The website for a Chicago wedding officiant I gave a sneak peak to a few days ago is now live.
This was a re-design project of an original site that had been created on Wix…an easy to use website creator but lacking in functionality and true internet marketing (SEO) capabilities. Here is a quick snap shot of the site prior to redesign, note the mobile version looks completely different from the desktop version.
Client, Toni Maddi , was very keen to keep the ability to update the website herself but really wanted a site where she could have full control of SEO. WordPress was the natural answer and it was this platform we used to build a fully responsive website for her wedding officiant business.
We created a very clean looking template design and updated the color palette a little. Toni had lots of fabulous photographs of wedding ceremonies she had conducted and these were used liberally throughout the site. All the pages were optimized for the search engines and we built specific landing pages for the locations and areas she serves.
The template was coded to respond to whatever device was being used to view it giving the visitor a consistent experience regardless of device they were using.
Here it is on an ipad
and again on an iphone
The site has been live for less than 24hrs but I have just heard from Toni that she has already received an inquiry through it!
We are currently working with Janet Summerfelt, an independent Reliv Distributor here in Chicago, in the freshen up of her WordPress website.
In our kickoff meeting she came well prepared, having not only found a stock image she wanted to incorporate in a new header but also ideas for a color palette. While some clients need our complete creative input, others like Janet have a firm idea of exactly how they want their site to look and only require us to execute their ideas. We are happy to work either way.
With a few image changes and CSS tweaks we were able to give her WordPress web site a much cleaner fresher look much more in keeping with the nutritional supplements she promotes
This is the original look of the site. It is amazing what a few color and image updates can do.
Last week saw the release of a new book by one of our clients, Edward Bison. His book, Mr Bison’s Journal, is a very funny collection of stories and observations and is a laugh out loud read. I was commissioned to not only illustrate each of the stories but also design the book cover. It was a fun project and fingers crossed it will become one of the top humor books of 2012/2013. It would make a great Christmas gift -see it on Amazon as a paperback and Kindle ebook
As part of the launch we updated his website www.mrbison.com moving it from a blogger powered blog, to the all singing and dancing WordPress platform and giving the site a mini design overhaul.
The home page now features a prominent call to action to buy the book and a video clip of a sample chapter. The site navigation was revised to include such as his Facebook fan Page
We also took the opportunity to re-code it as responsive website – I’ll fill you in on the ins and outs of that tomorrow.
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.
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 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.
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.
The content of the photograph
The content of your blog post
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)
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
I have been working recently on a number of custom WordPress sites.
The 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.
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/