In the multi-device world we live in, it’s important to ensure your website is presented well on devices of all sizes. From our experience with small to medium sized businesses, a website can expect to receive 20 – 50% of its traffic from mobile devices. Many North Americans name their phone as their main device to access the web; in fact, mobile searches will exceed desktop searches by the end of the year, Google predicts.
Over the past few years Google has been looking at the mobile experience of websites more closely. Google has recently announced that they will be expanding their use of mobile-friendliness as a ranking signal. Unlike other Google updates that target specific countries, keywords searched, or anchor text, this update will affect all mobile searches, in all countries, for all keywords. This update happened on April 21st, 2015.
Wondering if your website is mobile friendly? Google has a tool that can tell you:
- If your website classifies as mobile-friendly (and thus were not affected by the update)
- If your website is not mobile-friendly, it will explain what is not mobile friendly.
There are options for how you build a website that works for all devices. You can have a responsive website, or a separate optimized mobile website. Before April 21st, Google would generally rank websites on mobile phones the same as they ranked on desktop. That has now changed. If your website ranks on the first page for a given search term, you may not rank in the same position on a phone. The extent of the effect will depend on your individual situation and the competitive situation.
In 2012 IdeaZone started with responsive design, and in 2013 we made it a standard to build all our WordPress websites using responsive design. We understood the importance and value for our clients. For IdeaZone clients wondering about their mobile-friendliness please send us a message.
If you have any questions about the mobile-friendliness of your website don’t hesitate to contact us.
I was recently asked where I saw IdeaZone’s design style moving in the future, and replied that I wanted us to move backwards – back to our roots. On further reflection, I realized that it was not IdeaZone’s design origins for which I was striving, it was my own.
I have found myself thinking of my early days in this industry, before anyone started seriously talking about this new medium called the ‘inter-web’.
In 1993 (yes, I am that old), renowned graphic designer Richard Urysz brought me into his firm. His company, Designamite, was a creative design firm that specialized in corporate branding and point of purchase advertising. I wish I could say that Richard hired me based on my outstanding design skills, but I suspect it had more to do with him being tired of watching the father of his two grandsons struggle as a freelance graphic designer.
One night, over too much beer and bourbon, Richard told me that he felt that the internet would be the world’s next point of purchase medium and that we needed to move in that direction. I felt that trying to push a highly graphical message through a 14.4kbit/s (the best at the time) modem was crazy. Richard insisted that one day, every business would be featured on the web. We might even have online services that would stream our audio and maybe even video.
He might have been accused of being a visionary.
Designamite shortly became one of the first design firms in BC to feature a client’s company online. It was a daring and innovative marketing move that proved itself to be immensely successful.
Designamite folded. Richard and I parted ways, but continued to work closely together. Richard went on as Creative Director at PCNCG, while I founded J. Valade Studios (soon to merge with IdeaZone). In the early years, I felt that Richard’s designs were much too bold for the internet, while my team kept things subdued and comfortable for our small business clients.
The friendship that Richard and I shared went far beyond our working relationship, lasted much longer than my marriage with his daughter, and was steeped within the industry that defined us both.
THAT IS WHERE I WANT IDEAZONE TO BE.
I want IdeaZone to be bold, laced with tongue-in-cheek copywriting, and far beyond outstanding. I want this company to reflect the heart and soul that Richard and I originally brought to this industry.
Richard was more than just a friend. He was a mentor I looked up to and respected. I owe my career to him and I wish him the best in the next life.
What is HRD Photography… or High Dynamic Range Imaging?
“High dynamic range imaging or HDR Photography is a set of methods used in imaging and photography to allow a greater dynamic range between the lightest and darkest areas of an image than current standard digital imaging methods or photographic methods. HDR images can represent more accurately the range of intensity levels found in real scenes, from direct sunlight to faint starlight, and is often captured by way of a plurality of differently exposed pictures of the same subject matter.”
In the simplest terms, HDR Photography will blend together three versions of the same photo. One at normal exposure, one at a lower exposure and one at a higher exposure. This creates a high dynamic range that produces an outstandingly vibrant picture. Most new cameras come with HDR options built in. Even my Samsung Galaxy SIII has this option provided that you manage to keep your hands from shaking long enough. If not it will produce an outstandingly vibrant blur.
But what about those older pictures in your archives.
It is possible to create a False HDR Effect using Photoshop.
I have looked at a number of different techniques for this and the following is my favourite because the effect is a little more subtle and most of the steps can be done with keyboard shortcuts.
The photos on the left are the originals with the adjusted photos on the right… click to enlarge.
To create your False HDR Effect using Photoshop, follow the instructions below:
- Take your original image and move it from the background to a layer called ‘Original’. Since I will need to create multiple layers with the same image I did this by selecting the image and pasting it into the new layer… this keeps the original image in the buffer to easily paste it a few more times.
- Create a new layer above ‘Original’ and call it ‘Desaturate’. Paste the original image into the layer and change the Blending options to ‘Overlay’
- Desaturate the layer (Image > Adjustments > Desaturate) or (SHIFT + CTRL + U)
- Invert the layer (Image > Adjustments > Invert) or (CTRL I)
- Add around 40 pixels (tweak to your liking) Gaussian Bluer to the layer (Filter > Bluer > Gaussian Blur
- Create a new layer above ‘Desaturate’ and call it ‘linear’
- Change the blending option to ‘Linear Light’
- Adjust the opacity of ‘Linear’ to somewhere between 25% and 65%
Save it and be fabulous…
I have been asked to Join Richard Clement to present a session at this year’s WRCUP Conference at UVic.
Richard and I will be spending this time critiquing websites for journalism students.
From the conference’s Facebook Event page…
Our conference will take place from March 22-24th at the University of Victoria. We are looking to bring dynamic speakers from Victoria’s vibrant journalism community to our conference. Accommodation will be provided by the Strathcona Hotel, right in the heart of downtown Victoria. A short 15 minute bus ride on public transportation will bring you from the hotel to campus. Victoria has an amazing number of local brew pubs, nightclubs, and other venues sure to keep any cuppie satisfied for the night.
For more information, please go to: http://cup.ca/
So I thought it might be time to test out the Facebook ads. IdeaZone has been staying consistent at 360 Facebook likes for almost a year. Granted there have been a number of interesting discussions but I really did not think that we were growing on this particular network. Anyone who has a Facebook business page has seen the ‘Build Audience’ link at the top of the page and the ‘Promote’ link at the bottom of every post. I thought it might be time to invest a small bit of money to test this.
Here are the results after two weeks.
The IdeaZone Facebook page went from 360 to 521 likes and continues to grow by about 5 likes per day.
We also went from an average of 160 people reached per week to 15,412. This is significant now matter what type of media you are using to connect with potential buyers.
Here is what I did.
I started by creating a Facebook ad designed to get more ‘Likes’. The link to start this process is always in the sidebar on the right of your Business Page. I specified a budget of $5.00 per day to a total of $20.00. For a low cost test, this was worth the budget.
While that ad was running, I selected a handful of messages to promote to my friends and friends of friends. The cost of this was $6.00 per message for 5 messages. The total cost was $30.00.
So the results I got came at a cost of $50.00 over the course of two weeks. Although this is more then I intended to pay, the reach I got is a much better value than any other available media.
A week later I was told that we were one of two businesses up for the award. I bought the tickets for the awards gala, enjoyed an outstanding meal with Michelle at The Butchart Gardens, and… received the Honourable Mention. Although I would have preferred to have taken home the Crystal Award, I was proud that IdeaZone was getting some recognition for the community service work that we have been doing.
A couple of weeks ago I was informed that we were nominated for another business award. This time it is through the Victoria Chamber of Commerce. I am still unclear as to who nominated us but I am looking forward to finding out how this will play out. Getting the recognition in Victoria is fantastic and we are looking forward to the win this time.
Wish us luck.
Join me at WordCamp 2013 for an one-hour session on WOO Themes and WOO Commerce.
WOO Themes and WOO Commerce will transform your WordPress website into a powerful online eCommerce store. Delivering enterprise-level quality & features whilst backed by a name you can trust.
Curious, come and join me at 4:00pm on January 12th for WordCamp 2013.
During this session we will be:
- Installing a WOO Theme and WOO Commerce ready child theme
- Installing the WOO Commerce plugin
- Going through the custom WOO interface to personalize the theme
- Looking at the WOO Commerce administration and setting up
- The general settings
- The commerce pages and navigation
- The tax tables
- Shipping options
- Payment gateways (PayPal)
- Setting up product categories
- Setting up a basic product
This presentation will be geared towards website managers, designers and developers and assumes that the audience has a general knowledge of the WordPress administration section.
ALSO, once again IdeaZone will be hosting The Idea Zone where you can come and get one-on-one answers to all of your WordPress questions.
Visit WordCamp Victoria 2012 online for more information.Button
Welcome to IdeaZone’s Awesome WordPress Plugin Pick of the Month. This month I am introducing….
jQuery Slider Shock
The best content slider available. This plugin is easy to manage and FREE!!!
Available features include:
- Add thumbnails on any of the four sides of the slider
- Create a video slider or get external sources
- Add videos from any of your favorite videos host
- Mix videos and images inside the slider
- Show the slider wherever you need it
- Several sliders in the same page
- Add a background to the text captions inside the slider
- Add captions to your slides with adjustable width and position
- Add background patterns via external URL
- Choose delay time
- Select a specific image width with customizable margins
- Add thumbnail labels and select a color or a pattern background
- Pick a style for title and text
- Select the style of the arrows
There is a commercial license available starting at $19.00 that adds a few more features including:
- Fully responsive, mobile ready
- Multiple slides sources, including external: Custom Slides, Posts (WordPress), Custom Post Types (WP), Taxonomies (WP), External RSS, YouTube, Flickr, Twitter and Instagram
- Several transition effects
- Access to premium slider skins
All websites created by IdeaZone.ca are now responsive. This graphic, done by Amee at our partner company North Studio, expertly explains why.
The best solution to displaying your website on a mobile device is starting your build using responsive design solutions.
With over 174 million users, LinkedIn is a professional network, much like a 24/7 Chamber of Commerce meeting or a ‘Super-sized’ tradeshow. I will start by letting you know that a LinkedIn Profile Page (for you as an individual) is different from a Company Page.
Your Profile Page allows you to:
1. Re-connect Find past and present colleagues and classmates quickly.
2. Power your career Discover inside connections when you’re looking for a job or new business opportunity.
3. Get Answers Your network is full of industry experts willing to share advice. Have a question? Just ask.
1. Showcase Show people who you are and what you do (product and services).
2. Offers You can include offers either directly on your LinkedIn Company page or by sending visitors to a landing page on your website.
3. Connect Introduce people to your other networks, blog and website as they all highlight different elements.
4. Engage with followers.
5. Strengthen word-of-mouth referrals.
If you do not have a company page, follow these easy steps (from LinkedIn’s Help Center) and view their short video.
1. Click Companies near the top of your home page.
2. Click the Add a Company link in the upper right area of the page.
3. Enter your company’s official name and your work email address.
4. Click Continue and enter your company information.
*If the work email address you provide is an unconfirmed email address on your LinkedIn account, a message will be sent to that address. Follow the instructions in the message to confirm your email address and then use the instructions above to add the Company Page.
Now, you will need to add information to the page including:
Overview Tab - This includes the basic company information and provides a high-level overview, you will also see status updates and friends and colleagues who are connected to the business.
Here’s some helpful character counts for specific fields:
- Company Name: 100 maximum characters.
- Description: 200 minimum and 2000 maximum characters.
- Specialties: 256 maximum characters.
- Website URL: 256 maximum characters.
Products and Services Tab - see LinkedIn’s guide Remember to add images, videos, your website URL links and clear direction for each category. Make use of the Spotlight feature to grab your visitor’s attention.
Company Status Updates – share what’s happening with your company. Make these updates professional, short, and engaging.
Recommendations - Consumers are depending more on word-of-mouth and referral marketing to make their buying decisions. Build confidence in your products and services with recommendations from past clients. Don’t send a blanket request to many people, target clients for whom you have recently completed a large project or sold products to. Remember to ask for recommendations for specific products or services (so you don’t end up with a general recommendation) and always say ‘Thank you”.
Recently, I shared 10 ways to use LinkedIn’s features to your Company page stand out, promote your brand and generate leads. Please feel free to view, download and share my slides.
>>>>> DOWNLOAD MY PRESENTATION SLIDES <<<<<<
…. Stay tuned as I will be creating a post for each tip so I can provide you with greater detail.
As always, I would be happy to answer your questions, respond to comments and hear your LinkedIn promotion strategies.