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We are excited to announce our company has a new home on the web! Pushing the Envelope, Inc. officially launched our new website last week.
The address is the same – getpushing.com – but the look and content has completely changed. With enhanced services information, free eBooks, and more, the website was produced in-house by two folks you may kn0w… our Interactive Web Developer Matt Mernin and Internet Marketing Strategist Alex Fernandez.
It’s been a long time coming and we’re looking forward to adding even more features to it in the future, so if you have suggestions – send them over!
By: Matt Mernin
Interactive Web Developer
Having a website these days will no longer set you apart from your competitors. There are however, many factors that can help your website perform against your online contenders. If you’re considering developing a new website, this post should help you avoid some potential unexpected delays.
1. Choose the right website domain.
Your domain name is one of the first impressions your potential customer perceives about your company. Think long and hard about it; try to connect it to your existing brand and/or industry. The length of a domain is also very important. Some argue that longer domains are easier to remember, while others believe a shorter domain is easier to type. Either way, the domain needs to read easy and make sense. Try not to get your heart set on a single domain name because it may not be available. You can check availability by visiting www.domain.com. Simply submit your domain name, if it’s not available, domain.com will give you a list of suggested domains similar to your query.
2. Understand your target market.
Chances are you already you have enough customers to determine a general scope of who your target audience is. If this isn’t the case, do some research but more importantly ask your customers questions. Find out their interests. Roughly determine the average age, income, and gender, etc. All walks of life use the Internet, to convey your message and brand clearly the design agency needs to know who to design for. Maybe your target uses smart phones as their primary web-enabled device. Maybe your target is using a computer over a decade old. Techniques have been developed to address the limitations and boundaries set by society, take advantage of them by having a better understanding of your target market.
3. Determine the purpose of your website.
The capabilities of the web are growing rapidly! Your website is a platform not just for placing your contact information and details about your business. It should be utilized as a tool to help you accomplish tasks and goals. With your goals in mind a designer can develop strategies to point users in the right direction and funnel them to accomplish them. This will streamline your users actions, preventing them from getting lost on your website.
4. Integrate your website into other marketing materials.
From direct mail pieces to business cards, your website URL should be included on all of your existing marketing materials. When your website is launched you will need as much help as possible to spread the word and bring awareness. Not doing this can prevent potential customers from easily learning more about your brand, products, and services.
In this day in age when your website is your front door and often visited long before your brick and mortar location, be careful to set it up well and strategically. If you need help or have questions about Internet Marketing and Web Design, contact us!
Last week was the first of a three part blog series discussing all the reasons why we at PTE often advocates using WordPress for your custom website platform. Now that we know why WordPress Dashboard makes a great CMS, we’ll cover how WordPress can improve your website’s search engine visibility. The importance of being visible in search results is paramount in Internet marketing. Search is the primary traffic driver of most websites, so anything that helps a website rank highly in search engine ranking pages (SERPs) should be considered. Well, WordPress definitely helps, and hopefully this blog will do a good job of explaining why!
- Built-In SEO Features – WordPress actually has some impressive SEO features included with installation. For example, basic WordPress settings can be adjusted to notify you of incoming links to your blog entries. You can also easily manage and build out categories and keywords for your various entries. Perhaps the greatest built-in feature is the way that WordPress automatically formats the website HTML to establish the hierarchy of information.
- Hierarchy of Information – These sites are SEO-friendly, right out-of-the-gate. Content is easy to scan and index, and is pre-formatted with a hierarchy of information. This is done via “Heading Tags” in HTML. These tags are numbered from 1 to 6, with 1 being the most prominent, or most important content. Search engines can easily scan everything on your website and sort content from greatest to least importance.
- Built-in Blog – Search engines love blogs for several reasons: they’re ease to scan, they attract a lot of links, they’re packed with keywords and they’re updated frequently. Included with every WordPress website is a WordPress blog, built-in. Blogs are an excellent content driver for any social media effort, and are arguably the most valuable asset for a search engine optimization effort. They are ALSO a great source of fresh content for your website and social media, establishing your brand as a source of valuable information on a particular topic.
- SEO Add-ons – Going back to previous points, there are many add-ons for WordPress that can aid with Search Engine Optimization. A couple of my favorite SEO plug-ins are Yoast SEO for WordPress and the All-In-One SEO Pack. While they are not a substitute for professional SEO services, they do make a basic SEO effort possible with minimal knowledge, effort and cost. Another great widget, for keyword research (a component of SEO), would be the tag cloud. It provides a visual representation of the various keywords for blog entries, with the most commonly used keywords at larger sizes, and vice verse.
While WordPress doesn’t “do it all” when it comes to search engine optimization – it DOES help significantly. With search engine visibility so vital to online success, it’s great to work with a platform that has so many convenient features. Next week, we’ll discuss how WordPress “Themes” are different than website templates – So don’t forget to check back, or add us to your RSS reader.
If you’re considering a custom website for personal use or for a small to medium sized business – shoot us an email at email@example.com or give us a call at 239.221.2858. We’re open to answering any questions you may have, as well as discussing how some of these ideas might apply to your website.
By: Matt Mernin
Interactive Web Developer
A website is a machine designed to address the specific needs and goals of your unforgiving end-user who will use a different tool to accomplish the task if their demands aren’t met immediately. Building a website is far more complicated than adding images and text to a pre-built template and making it available for everyone to see. This blog is designed to explain the crucial benefits you get with a professionally developed website versus a template.
Frequently I see advertising promoting website services in a package, typically offering clients a choice of one design from a list of pre-designed templates and the option to add their own text and images. While this sounds good on the surface, the design and text are only two small components of a website and by using a template, you’re almost certain to have “the same” website as someone else! In short, unless you need a website in less than a week, and have less than $100 to spend, steer clear and get a custom-designed website developed and tailored just for you/your business.
So lets go over some of the advantages of a custom developed website.
- With a custom built website you will get the beauty and design of a template without the risk of having another website out there that looks identical to yours. You can purchase exclusive rights to a template but that only stops others from using it moving forward, plus you will end up spending more than it would to have a custom website developed.
- Customizing a website outside of a template allows you the freedom to funnel end-users in the direction you want. With the help of a professional who understands usability patterns, you can maximize the success of the website’s website to meet your specific goals. A template will not give you the flexibility to design the website to support the most important objectives the users should accomplish.
- Industry standards are set to ensure that proper work is done accurately and efficiently. Template design would be the equivalent to hammering a nail with a sledgehammer; it may get the job done, but you will also end up with a giant hole in the wall. A template website tends to take shortcuts when developing the flow and view and can cause errors associated with sloppy work. These shortcuts can effect your search engine ranking resulting in lack of activity and website traffic.
- “What you see is what you get” is the concept of templates. This is a good option for those on a very limited budget and time frame. However, a professional website developer will sit down with you and figure out your needs, then structure a website towards those needs. With a template you are limited to making changes to the structure, especially if you lack coding knowledge.
Template websites do offer some benefits: cheap, easy and quick. However, the primary concept of a custom built website is your specific needs and goals. If you are looking for a professionally built, custom website that will offer your users a satisfying experience and meet your goals (new leads, traffic, etc.), then contact us. Anyone of our team members would be happy to learn more about your business and help create a site, custom, for you.
Don’t worry, just because it’s custom doesn’t mean it’s out of your budget. There are many options for creating a unique site on a budget. We’d love to help you!
By: Matt Mernin
Interactive Web Development
As I write my first blog entry for Pushing the Envelope, one particular topic comes to mind, which is vital to effective project management – Defining the Website Development Process. This can be defined as a sequential series of steps to follow, guiding a web development project from discovery to launch. It is vital that websites are built carefully and systematically, as they are the nucleus of your internet marketing strategy. This process can be different for every company, as we all have different approaches to our trade. However, there are four key steps that we feel every company should follow to a certain extent. They are:
- Discover & Define
- Concept & Design
- The Build
- Website Launch
I’m Matt Mernin, Interactive Website Developer for Pushing the Envelope. After several of years of experience in the industry, in addition to my education at the world-renowned technical school, Full Sail University, I’ve learned that walking down a path of assumptions is never a good idea. Following these steps makes for a systematic website development process that (1) accommodates the client’s marketing goals, (2) conveys the brand accurately and (3) is built on-time/on-budget.
Step One: Discover & Define
This step consists of researching the company, analyzing the industry and competitors, understanding the target audience, and submitting a proposal. At PTE, we consider it our “due diligence”. The more we learn about the client, the more confident our client will be in our ability to craft an effective marketing tool (i.e. their website). The following subjects should be included, but not limited to, in your proposal:
- Client Profile – A brief explanation of the company will reassure the client you understand who they are, what they do, and why they operate.
- Communication Brief – The overall vision of the project and identification of the target audience.
- Audience Profiles – Business storytelling to describe, in detail, the target audience.
- Timeline - Key milestones, not only to keep clients in-the-know, but to keep the project moving forward.
- Situation Analysis – The current situation, goals of and intent of the website, and how you plan on accomplishing those goals.
- Time Estimate – Create a list of all phases and how long each one will take. Ex. Wireframe design, mockup design, html coding, programming etc.
Step Two: Concept & Design
In this step, we review all of the information gathered during discovery and begin applying it towards the overall project structure. Important elements are of course the architecture of the website, branding, art direction (visual look and feel), hierarchy of information, any features and functions that are needed, wireframes, design mockups, analytics setup, etc.; any activities relating to the project as a whole and aligning the build with the clients needs and wants. This step is just as important as the build itself, because it will serve as a guiding light moving forward.
Step Three: The Build
We always start this process with a team production meeting, identifying who will be handling which tasks. All components of the site are be broken down and assigned to different team members. Website content is revised & edited (if existing, or developed if not), server and domain settings are determined, and of course, constructing the actual website (constructing the website has an entire process of its own, and we can discuss that in a future entry!) The Build can take varying lengths of time, depending on the project. Also varying from project to project is the approval process. Every company has a different leadership structure. Once the website is completely built and approved, we move forward to the Website Launch.
Step Four – Website Launch
We like to handle the launch of any project with care. Rushing a launch can lead to costly mistakes, which takes away from ROI, and can have a negative effect on our relationship with our clients/customers. We advocate having a soft launch, which is a collaborative process where the website is reviewed internally by all key management, followed by time for revisions and debugging. Following this step is the website launch, summation and hand-off of all assets. Time to show the world what we’ve built!
Again, this is a general process for website development. Every company has a slightly different approach, but these core components should certainly be covered. Your brand deserves it! If you want to know how we would approach YOUR website development project, get in touch with us at Pushing the Envelope Inc., our team of experts will provide you not only with a great website, but an incredible experience to go with it.
With Father’s Day coming up this Sunday, I wanted to give my father a gift, in the form this blog entry. I’ve always wondered if he understands exactly what I do here at PTE, as an Internet Marketing Strategist.
While I’m sure he knows it has something to do with the Internet, websites, search engines and social media, I don’t think I’ve ever taken the time to properly explain how all those things come together. This is ALSO a great opportunity for anyone else to learn about the fundamentals of internet marketing – as it has proven to be one of the fastest growing industries in recent years!
So, what IS Internet marketing?
Internet marketing, also referred to as web marketing, online marketing, E-marketing, the list goes on, is the practice of marketing products via the Internet. Typically, it also implies the use any email, mobile and/or wireless mediums. While my specialties are mainly search marketing and social media, the rapidly-evolving plethora of disciplines that fall under the umbrella of Internet marketing makes keeping up quite fun!
What it really comes down to is marketing strategy. I’m a strategist, Dad! I help companies find a target market that is in need of their product, and then develop a strategy for reaching that market and communicating with them effectively. The many disciplines of Internet marketing all come into play at different points in the AIDAS Buying Model. AIDAS stands for Attention, Interest, Desire, Action and Satisfaction. These are the stages that the typical person goes through before they become a satisfied customer. In the graphic below, the orange triangle represents the decreasing number of potential customers that make it through each step. My job is to minimize those decreases, thus maximizing the effectiveness of an online business.
Here’s where it get’s fun – EACH step in the graphic below plays a special role in the AIDAS buying model – and EACH step requires its own special set of disciplines. For example, search engine marketing, social media marketing, and advertising are vital to the Traffic Generation step. Website usability and testing methods, as well as analytics and evaluation methods are vital to setting Conversion Goals. Every step requires a different set of skills. That’s why I work with an awesome team. Everyone at PTE helps with specific areas of the buying model.
So there you have it. I’m not a web designer; I’m not a programmer; I’m not a social media manager (although I used to be); nor am I a sailboat captain.
Those are all very specialized positions. I’m a strategist that helps businesses compete online. I help businesses get found, attract visitors to their websites, and maximize the performance of those websites, creating emphatic customers. I hope that best explains it, Dad! Happy Father’s Day!
Shame on us, but we aren’t able to put out one of our stellar blogs this week! We apologize, but things are a bit busy around the PTE offices these days.
Next week, Matt, our new Interactive Web Developer, will share a tutorial on Web basics – what every website should have.
Thanks for reading and enjoy your long weekend! We’ll see you soon.
Yes, we’ve got another announcement to make! Rounding out our recent growth spurt, we’re excited to share that we’ve added Matt Mernin to our team!
Hired as an Interactive Web Developer, he will be responsible for all web development, coding, design, and email campaigns. He’ll also collaborate with Alex Fernandez, our Internet Marketing Strategist, for other web-based projects.
A lifelong resident of Lee County, Matt has been doing graphic and web design for nearly 10 years. He will soon graduate from Full Sail University with a Bachelor’s degree in web design and development, with a focus on Web development usability and standards.
His skills are timely addition to the marketing mix we offer at Pushing the Envelope, Inc. and we’re proud to have him on the team! You can contact him at matt(at)getpushing.com.