Archive for November, 2013

postheadericon Are You Ready For Cyber Monday?

We all know about Black Friday.  Crazy prices, insane crowds, lines out the door, and complete and utter chaos.  In recent years, however, Cyber Monday has been gaining ground to match or even surprise Black Friday.  Cyber Monday is the e-commerce version of the famous Friday holiday.  However, if you run an online business and are planning on taking advantage of the new holiday, you need to make sure you are ready for it.  To help out, here is a checklist of things to do to make sure you are prepared:

1. Check your server capability

A lot of hosting companies limit the amount of bandwidth that their customers can use in a month.  If you are expecting heavy traffic to your website, the last thing you want is for your site to go down in the middle of the biggest sale you have every made.  Make sure you know how much bandwidth your host has given you and see if you can track how much bandwidth is being used over the course of the day.

If you are concerned over how much bandwidth you might use during the holiday, one of the best defenses is to minimize the amount of data downloaded by your potential customers.  A good web developer can help you to make sure that the images on the screen are only as large of a file as is needed and utilize a customer’s browser cache to reuse the same files as much as possible.

2. Check your shopping cart

While it is a wonderful to have customers making purchases on your website, you will only see the money from those sales if your customers are able to “check out.”  This seems simple at first, but updates to systems and operations can mean that your shopping cart may or may not be up to date.  Generally, if you are using a big name like Paypal, you should be fine.

3. Optimize your website for sales

Getting customers to your website is important, but you have to be the salesman.  You need to direct your customers with big headlines and images.  Call them to action with words like “Click Here!” or “Find our More!” to send your customers to the biggest sales.  Once they are looking at your website, they can spend as much time as they would like without worry.

4. Test new changes early

If you are planning to have special changes made to your website for the holiday, make sure that they are tested beforehand.  You don’t want your big changes to cause a big issue without the time to fix it.  Make sure you check and double check any and all changes that will be going up to your site.  Use unlisted subdirectories or dummy domains to test out exactly how the website will look before you flip the switch at midnight.

5. Promote, promote, promote

This is not one of those scenarios where the idea of “if you sell it, they will come” applies.  Your customers, both current and potential, need to know what your offering and the kind of deals they can expect.  Push it in blogs, and spread it through social media.  Tweet, post, and advertise as much as possible to get the most amount of customers to your website.  Remember, this holiday lasts one day.  If you don’t get your customers there for your big day, it won’t end up being much of a big day at all.

 

If you follow this checklist, your website should be primed and ready to make the most of Cyber Monday.

postheadericon Web Design Evolution: Expanding Horizons

As a company with years of experience in designing and developing websites, we have seen the trends change as the years go by.  Just as the fashion industry has a tendency to reinvent itself every couple of years, website design seemingly overhauls itself every so often.  Light colors become dark colors.  Animated buttons become drop down menus.  Now we are seeing a focused shift towards using the whole screen as a design canvas.  Interestingly enough, this is nothing new, in fact the design idea is old enough to be considered “retro” at this point.

In the Beginning

Mankind created the internet.  However, without html attributes, css, or other modern day niceties, there was no way of limiting how the data was spaced horizontally.  Vertically, you started at the top and went to the bottom.  Horizontally, you started at the left and went to the right.  There was no real middle.  This made for cluttered and often unorganized websites that were difficult to look at and even more difficult to navigate.

Then, there was the css revolution.  Wrapping div’s were created to center content inside a nice, pretty box.  Sites became advertising art pieces like other advertising media had long before.  Now there was a background, to be mostly ignored, and the parts that marketers wanted you to look at.  For non-business websites, this also provided a canvas by which artists could express their creativity.  With javascript, we saw animation added and websites started moving, but they still stayed towards the center of the screen, where it was safe to play.

And Now…

We are seeing a radical shift back to the days of full-width pages…somewhat.  There is still a focus put on the middle of the page.  This is where the important images and text is going.  However, there is also a focus on blurring the lines between the content and the background.  Elements like headers will expand the length of the screen.

Take for example what I believe is a very interesting theme developed for WordPress.  This particular theme was purchased from ElegantThemes and a demo can be found on our site at http://activenation.com/demos/fusion/.  Notice that the background images expand to the whole width of the screen, while the text and focus of the website is right in the middle where it has always been.  This, I believe, is where the next generation of websites is heading.  More and more, this style of website is becoming more popular.  While not the most appropriate for perhaps a corporate setting, for marketing themed websites, it fits the bill of having a wow factor to it.