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Mobile Website Usage Continues To Grow!

If you are like me, in the last 24 months or so you most likely have started using your mobile phone more and more for browsing the Internet.  Larger mobile screens, voice recognition software, and better wi-fi access are just a few of the advances that have made this possible. 

The usage stats that I have found support this tremendously. Approximately 15% of all web traffic in 2013 has been mobile.  I see no slowing down in this growing segment as the phones keep getting easier to use while more and more websites are becoming responsive (mobile friendly) websites.

It used to be for e-mail (and a phone call)!

My first 2 smartphones were Blackberry’s and their primary purpose was phone and e-mail. On my last Blackberry I started taking photos and sending them thru e-mail. That was great and it certainly gave me a level of connectivity with customers, family and friends that I really enjoyed and used.  When I was travelling to Australia it really become obvious to me how valuable a tool this was.

I didn’t really start actively using my mobile phone for a web browser until I had upgraded to an Android (in 2011) when I started reading the news on my phone  (in the bathroom  – and let me tell you it was just as enjoyable as a newspaper!).

We started developing mobile websites around 2010 when we saw initial demand for mobile sites. Creating the sites generally required separate templates from traditional desktop websites (and lots of development work to make the sites work) but it really wasn’t as clear back then what people would actually use mobile websites for. Today every website we produce is responsive (which includes a mobile friendly version) and this is now a standard with Bear Web Design.

SO what do people use Mobile Websites for?

The answer seems to be more and more obvious today – any web based task that can be accomplished on the mobile in a gnerally short period of time (and without the hassle of turning on a computer and finding a suitable work location). Of course this is my definition but here are some of the things folks now do on mobile sites:

  • Reading, Viewing and updating Content (News, Social Media, Entertainment)
  • Social Media Engagement (Facebook, Twitter & Google+)
  • Personal calendars and contact info (remember back when Day Planners were so popular?)
  • Online Banking and Online Shopping
  • Browsing QR Codes (in areas such as Real Estate and Retail Shopping in particular)
  • General information searching (Just like we do on a normal desktop with google
  • Maps and directions (locating nearest shops and restaurants)
  • E-mail (Voice activation which makes it even easier) & Phone

I am sure there is a lot more to this list, but the reality is if I can do something on mobile – say, transfer money from one bank account to another while sitting in the living room watching TV,  versus getting up and getting my laptop and turning it on letting it boot up and then having it sit awkwardly in my lap “OH THE ABSOLUTE INCONVENIENCE OF IT ALL!” then frankly I am going to use my mobile. Its more convenient and ultimately easier to do and based on that I suspect we are all going to continue to use our mobiles more and more in the future.

Do You Know What Google+ Is?

This week I presented Google+ to a lunch and learn session for the Mt. Juliet Chamber of Commerce. Google+ (pronounced and sometimes written as Google Plus or G+) is Google’s social media network. I spent quite a bit of time preparing for the presentation as I have only been using Google + for the last 3 months or so and I was curious about what level of interest there was going to be. Based on the lively group with many questions, comments, and feedback from my presentation, it is apparent that people are definitely starting to focus on Google’s social media network.

Introduction to Google Business Apps

To actually use Google + you must have a Google e-mail Account (a Google Business Apps Account or a Gmail Account). We have a Google Business Apps account set up for Bear Web Design so that is where my Google + Page is tied. This was an attractive feature of Google + to me – Google Business Apps has so many products that I use – e-Mail , Calendar, Drive, Chat, Video Chat (aka Hangout) and then our webmaster tools such as Analytics, Website submission, Google Plus Local Pages and Google Places, to name a few. And then when you add Youtube, Picasa (Photo Album), and Blogge, you start to see what Google + Social Media is going to be sharing (EVERYTHING!!!! – AND IT’S LOCATED IN ONE PLACE!).

Introduction to Google+

To get to Google+ from any Google e-mail account go to your Profile and you will see your Google + Page. Many people actually have Google + Pages that are active (but don’t have updated profile information). To see how people will see your Google + Page (search for Your Name and Google +) in Google’s Search Engine and you will most likely find your Google + Page. I have set up a personal photo cover on my Google + page to actually reflect the fact my page is Social. (In reality it is also for business networking!).

Get to Know Google Plus Circles

One of the issues I have with my personal Facebook page is that I have many different relationships tied to my account. Since we are web developers, we have a lot of Facebook Apps we have set up for clients (which means we are administrators of their Facebook corporate pages) then we have business friends and family here in Tennessee and then we have friends and family back in Australia. I find it difficult to manage this and worse I get so many posts that are simply irrelevant to me.

Communicate Effectively (and Efficiently)

Google + comes with a categorization structure, called Circles, which allows you to manage your relationships and easily add more Circles. You can quite easily set up business acquaintances, friends, family, sports clubs or whatever you wish. And then when you post, you send the information to the appropriate Circle. This makes absolute sense to me. From a family point of view I don’t want to share my family conversations with anyone but my family (for privacy and also not to waste other people’s time). Same with every circle I have. One of the biggest areas people ignore in Social Media is how valuable people’s time is. Circles help me respect everyone’s most valuable asset – their time!

Other Great Features Include Google Hangout!

If you use Skype, which has been the standard voice and video communication online, then you should try Google Hangout. Again, what I like most about this is that it is tied to my Google e-Mail Account and I can video chat with anyone within my Circles (or invite additional people) just like a I can with Skype. It works great on your mobile as well, and is so easy to access from my email account. Since my mobile device has my Google account set up, I can easily get to Google + and then have a hangout (on the phone).

But even more exciting – Introducing Google+ Local Pages

So Google+ looks like the bomb (as my Grand Daughter Addison would say) – BUT – as a business owner my time and resources are limited… so, Is this going to help me with Search Engine rankings and deliver me more prospects?

The short answer is that Google + ultimately leads you to Google+ Local (Google’s Business Listing that ties Social Media to your Search Engine Listing). And that is exciting to me!

When you go to the Google search engine and type in a standard search phrase – “Lebanon TN Lawyers” – you will see:

Google Plus Local Page Result

You can see here that Google gives a good amount of results for companies that have Google + Pages set up (and it shows you where these businesses are located, which can be a key in a prospect’s decision making parameter). Also, look how cleanly the listing stands out compared to the rest of the page – you can click on the listing to go directly to a website, to the actual Goolge + Local Page or the OLD FASHIONED PHONE.

I hopefully now have gotten your attention — and more to the point, Google+ is something as a business you are now looking at a little closer. My next blog (next week) will be about Google+ Local Pages specifically, how to set one up, the Circle structure, and how they are tied to all your business app tools!

Hope everyone have a Happy Easter and a sunshine-filled week!

What is Responsive Website Design?

What is Responsive Website Design?

2013 has been declared the year of Responsive Design in many web circles. If you haven’t heard of  Responsive Design yet, you will soon. The reason it was created (and is snowballing in popularity) is because of the need to optimize websites on different devices — mobile, tablet,  laptop & desktop — with the growth of the mobile and tablet markets being the driving force for Responsive Design. 

In the last 12-24 months at Bear Web Design we have seen a significant increase in customers requiring their sites to be mobile friendly.  In the last few years mobile strategies have ranged from building completely separate standing mobile sites (which have been expensive to develop and quite often require double web content entry) to adding multiple separate templates to a website which would detect the device and execute the appropriate template.

Similar challenges have also emerged with the tablet market.  When you add the various browsers and operating systems into the mix of devices you can easily see the challenges that are facing websites today (and Web Designers and Developers).

Introducing Responsive Website Design!

Responsive web design is a web design approach aimed at creating sites to provide an optimal viewing experience—easy reading and navigation with a minimum of resizing, panning, and scrolling—across a wide range of devices (from desktop computer monitors to mobile phones).  Basically your website responds to the device and browser to give an optimal user experience.

Generally speaking these Responsive templates are built from the mobile level up (complete opposite of creating a mobile site from an existing full size website).  The template is then customized as needed to suit each device with image and content sizing and various element display.  The key is that all images, content, forms, buttons and other elements fit attractively (and usably!) into the device viewing the website.

Bear Web Design Commences Responsive Website Design

We have commenced designing and developing our custom templates using Responsive Design in late 2012 and we have our first client sites coming online in this quarter.  We will be sharing these sites with you and highlighting the sites on each device so that you can develop and increase your knowledge in this area. 

We are also very excited be able to offer Responsive Designs upgrades to our existing client base (which includes upgrading from Joomla 1.5 to Joomla 2.5 as part of that process). There will be cost and time involved in these upgrades and we will be sharing the process with our clients. But the rewards will be immense, as there is no doubt that websites which are not mobile and tablet friendly are going to lose a large segment of prospects and customers in the upcoming years!

Be sure to watch out for our Responsive Design blogs from our Design and Development team over the next few months.

Talk to us today about Responsive Website Design!
If you wish to find out what’s involved in making your website responsive shoot me an e-mail (or call me at  615 504 6845 ) to discuss!



Education-is-a-key to website success!!!

With the improved usability of websites over the last 24-36 months (Content Management Systems in particular) and the integration of Social Media  with websites, it has become apparent that education is becoming a key to having a successful website.

The general concept of just putting up a website that clarifies what your company does, plus a contact form and a phone number, has pretty much run its race. Websites are becoming far more dynamic in behavior and usage, with visitor engagement becoming an important part of converting a visitor into a contact, a prospect, a buyer or a customer. Even understanding what devices your website is run on (Desktop, Laptop, Tablet, and Mobile) are all part of this bigger picture.

With visitor engagement comes the requirement for your website to provide not only static content (About Us, History, Our Products, Our Services, Our Team) but also producing ongoing sales & marketing communication from team members sharing their specific areas of expertise and specialties (with the blog being the primary tool for sharing this info and attracting great search engine results).

So what is Website Education and what should it involve?

Around three years ago we started teaching Web Content Management classes. Clearly our first requirement was to educate clients in updating the content on their website.  This was a good start and we have many clients that are now fully managing their website content effectively. Then Google Analytics came along and starting help with educating clients on staying aware of website results (traffic in particular). We combined this with periodical meetings to review website results. 

Broadcasting your message and pulling people to your website has now become a priority!

This year with the focus on the Easy Blog System we added Intro to Easy Blog Classes to our quarterly teaching schedule. This class really opened up some great opportunities for clients’ team members to participate on their websites (ranging from the sales & marketing teams all the way to the quality control team).

Website Education can range from Content Management to Google Business Apps

We also offered 2 Google Business App Classes in 2012 which has also been in heavy demand all year long (clients moving to Google Business Apps – Google Mail , Drive, Calendar and other applications).

This week we offered a private class to Sanders Manufacturing and Sanders Marketing which included Google Business Apps, Intro to Easy Blog and intro to Social Media.  Participants included the Sales Team, Marketing and Production Teams. Not only was the team educated (and motivated) but they also became owners of their website which means they will be out selling and promoting it as part of their normal marketing and sales activities in the upcoming year.

Look for more classes and seminars in 2013!

When planning your marketing and website budget for 2013 be sure to consider your teams website education and training.  We are now formulating our education and training schedule for 2013 that will include:

  • Intro to Content Management (Joomla)
  • Advanced Content Management (Joomla)
  • Intro to Easy Blog – Advance Blogging
  • Intro to Social Media – Facebook, Google Plus, Linked In, & Pinterest
  • Intro to Google Business Apps – Advance Google Business Apps
  • Intro to eNEWS with Joomla Mailer & Chimp Mail

We are also looking to expand our class locations including classes being taught in Nashville, Murfreesboro,  Lebanon  as well our current training location – Mt. Juliet.

SO remember when planning for 2013 that Education-is-a-key to website success!!!



Needing to get 2013 and your website off to a Flying Start?

We are offering our final classes of the year (Intro to Joomla and Intro to Easy Blog) – be sure to register if you plan to attend:

• Intro to Easy Blog – November 8, 2012 – Details Here

• Intro to Content Management (Joomla) – November 17, 2012 – Details Here

Lots of folks are switching to Google Business Apps

I was updating our support ticket system tonight and I noticed we had 4 clients who were migrating from their old e-mail accounts to Google Business Apps. This seems to have become a common occurrence for many of our clients in 2012. We also took the plunge to use Google Business Apps in early 2012 and like many of our clients we are very happy with the move.

The Microsoft Era

For many years I had personally used Microsoft Outlook and then Windows Mail before we decided to move to Google. Being a person that is online 12-15 hours every day I burn thru a laptop every 2 or so years – and most of the time my old e-mails had been lost (when my laptop died) or in some cases I just didn’t want spend time moving old e-mail to my new laptop. I also had some challenges with Outlook when we travelled in particular having to setup different outgoing mail servers or using POP Account web mail – which did not always sync up with my Outlook account (or my mobile device). The need to have a more robust solution became more apparent as we travelled more and operated our business in a more mobile and on the go environment (that many small businesses operate in today).

So what is Google Business Apps?

Basically it revolves around the Google’s Business e-mail service, which also comes with some other great corporate communication tools that really help small business (and big business) operate efficiently within the Cloud. Note this is not gmail which many people think is the same thing. When you use gmail, your e-mail address is This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it . With Google Business Apps you get to use your own domain name while enjoying the features that gmail offers. Google Business Apps also offers a calendar as well as Google Docs (which are the 3 items we use primarily) to help manage our business. Google offers both a standard and premier version (the premier version has a $5.00 per user monthly fee). We are using the premier version so my primary experience is using that service. Google business mail has great archiving features as well as excellent spam blocking (and caching).

Great for remote employees or remote office locations!

Google Business Apps is domain specific which really helps you to use this tool with your company team mates. Accounts are setup with an e-mail account for each team member that needs a full e-mail account. Cost is going to be a consideration when you have a large team at $5.00 per user e-mail account – but forwarding accounts and e-mail groups and lists have no additional charge. The Bear Web Design team is located in several remote offices (including Melbourne, Australia) so it is nice that the whole team’s e-mail is in one account and easily managed. We can also share our contacts within our team – (although I must state that the current tools to do this are still improving and there are new solutions still being offered in this area). We can share our calendars so that at any time a member of my team can verify another team member’s schedule as well as book them for important dates. I must say one of the nicest features is the contacts sync with my Blackberry. When I am on the go that is a very handy feature, and connecting your mobile device is so much easier than setting a pop account. When I e-mail someone from my Blackberry a copy of that e-mail goes to my Google Mail so I am completely in sync with e-mail at all times.

Document Sharing is Impressive!

One of the nice features of Google Business Apps is the Document Management and Sharing. Again for a remote location this is a great tool. You can share documents with all your team members and also anyone else that has a google based e-mail (that includes personal gmail). For a lot of small organizations and not for profits this is a great way to be able to improve remote communications. Microsoft and Google have shown some great team work in this case with a product called “Google Cloud Connect” that allows you to share a Microsoft based product (Word, Excel, Publisher, Powerpoint) with a team member – that keeps that document in sync (that means only one copy of the document).

Sharing and managing documents has never been easier!

And even more impressive is the fact that you can share the document at the Microsoft level. In this case – I am typing my weekly blog in Word (and due to a complete lack of writing skills which you would never be aware of!) I am sharing this document with Our Design & Development Director who will clean it up a little before I post this as a blog article online. She will receive a notification that the document has been shared with her – she will be able to open it and make the appropriate changes and then will save the document (and let me know the document has been updated).

The next time I open the document it will sync up automatically with these changes – so I will now have the latest and greatest document (and will then post my blog and look like a literary hero!!!)…

Google Business Apps Document Sharing

Unfortunately, Cloud Connect does not work with Macs (which to my knowledge is due to Macs’ focus on their own iCloud product.) In this case – hats to off to Microsoft and Google for working together – and hopefully Macs will be compatible in the future.

So Who’s Now Using Google Business Apps???

Recently in discussing Google Business Apps with our Mt. Juliet Holiday Inn Express Owner and Client (Justin Patel) he informed me that over 6,000 HI Express employees world wide were switching to Google Business Apps (Not surprisingly we are working on Justin’s Google Business Apps Account right now!!). In my hometown of Melbourne, Australia, the largest Newspaper (The Age – Fairfax Media) has just announced moving their 10,000 employees world wide to Google Business Apps (from the traditional Microsoft Platform).

A Good Option for Small Business!

Comparing Google Business Apps to traditional Pop Accounts (which generally come with most hosting account) it is clearly a superior service. Many folks believe the hosting of website and e-mail have to be tied together which is simply not the case (the host generally manages the DNS – domain name server – which can point to e-mail services anywhere.) Over the last 18 months Google Business Apps have become a clear leader in business email. It is now a viable and proven option – and definitely a good option for small business!

Analysis, Communication & Collaboration – A Key To Great Web Design!

Of all the areas of web design and development that I enjoy the most – our Web Design meetings really rank highly for the part they play in ensuring a great website result for the client.

The key to the success of those meetings starts with analysis & research before the meeting, which can include reviewing the client’s business and marketing models , their current website, and industry leading websites for comparison and samples. Key communication actually starts in the sales cycle and should be in full “voice” – during the design meeting. Clients should be engaged in identifying their needs, aims and outcomes and the whole team (client and designer) should establish a collaborating process to ensure a successful outcome. 

Surely Your Web Designer’s Skills Would be More Important?

Without a doubt you have to have a great web designer to produce great websites. But an accomplished Web Designer is not only measured by graphic abilities. He or she must have a strong knowledge of the development tools the website will be using (and how they function) and must also have the ability to understand their client’s needs and requirements and to create a design that is results oriented.

There are many great web designers out there who can create the most eye catching web designs. But not all of those designs actually work for their clients. If the site looks good that will no doubt pass the first test of a new visitor – the test of whether they like the website or not. But as soon as they start to look for the specific items and areas of interest this may quickly change from “Liking The Site” to “Leaving The Site”. As my dear mother in Australia used to say “Peter – Looks Aren’t Everything” – in my case and the case of a successful website she would be right. (p.s. I do have a great personality!!!!)

Good Web Design Planning Starts with Analysis & Research!

We had two web design meetings planned for a Monday recently. In order to ensure that myself and our Design Director Vicki Payne were ready for those meetings we spent around 1-2 hours preparing for each meeting. During the sales cycle we really focus on the business and marketing models of the clients, the desired results they want from the website, and their timeline and budget. In the design meeting we really start to home in on the look and feel!

Preparing for our Design Meeting:

To prepare for design meeting my primary responsibility is to prepare an agenda for the meeting that ensures when we leave that meeting our Design Director has direction and clarity as to the design the client is seeking (the “look and feel” of the website). Although the design is now in the hands of our designer this process should remain a collaborative process. The client will ultimately pick the design sample (or combination of) that they feel best represents them. This decision making keeps the client in the forefront of the design process.

Wouldn’t The Designer Know Best when it comes to Web Designs?

At Bear Web Design we have two of the best custom web designers in Middle Tennessee. Vicki Payne our Design & Development Director has designed and developed over 150 great web designs over the last 10 years (plus hundreds of other sample designs). She is clearly expert in her field – as is our junior designer, Dana Bryson, who joined Bear Web Design in 2010. Yet when we attend a design meeting with a new client we approach every design the same – analysis, research, business direction, and business and marketing models of the client. Those steps really help establish a great design plan, ensuring that it is never just “our opinion” that directs these meetings.

I am sure many small business owners have ended up with what they thought was a great looking website that 6 months down the track was deemed as non-functional. (or basically not working for them). If you have ever been involved in a web design project and you have been told “Don’t worry – our designer knows exactly what you need” – you probably need to be REALLY WORRY!

Without a strong analysis of your business, how on earth can that designer really know what your business is about and what specific outcomes you are looking for with your website? Pre-selecting a website template is a great example of how a website that only looks good on the surface is simply not the best option (because in all probability that template was never built for that client’s business in the first place).

Analysis – Starts in The Sales Cycle!

It is much more difficult for me to produce a proposal for a client without having the entire web project understood. The only way to understand a website development project is to have a full analysis of the business and marketing models of the client. There is no other way to do this but to ask questions and do research — including research on the client’s existing site and also similar sites in their industry. So when we have produced a proposal we have a complete timeline and pathway to designing our client’s new website. We understand the client’s business models and we understand the outcomes the client is looking for.

Design Meetings Focus On details

When we commence our design meeting we are really focusing our design on the details with a primary focus on the look and feel of the website. We must leave this design meeting with clear direction. To help show the techniques we use to accomplish this, here is our standard agenda we use to help us really focus in on the details (with some comments to explain each area)…

  • Introduction – Specific Aim of Meeting – Identifying Look & Feel of Website(s)
  • Client’s Mission Statement – Primary Business & Marketing Models
  • Slogans – Logos – Identifying Demographics and Customer Base
  • Design Discussion – Website Look – Site Functionality – Web Site Areas
  • Color, Images (Photos), Logos, Font Style, Menus, Graphic Techniques
  • Additional Extensions, Components & Modules and any integrating 3rd Party Software
  • Social Media integration and interaction as well as the website interaction
  • Review of current website (likes, dislikes) and good industry examples (that we can learn from)

Additional Questions – Next Step(s)

At the completion of the design meeting we have really established all the necessary information and direction for our designers to be able to produce design samples for our client. We do not actually start building the website until the client has signed off on the design through this process. Our designers then create and post 3-5 unique design samples in .jpg image format, which are the exact replica and size of a normal website. This saves time and money in deciding the final design. To design the site and then change the design after development has begun would be inefficient and extremely costly.

Once the client has selected the final design we are ready to move forward with the actual web development. To a very large extent the success of the website has already been established and — don’t be mistaken — it has been established with analysis, research, communication & collaboration, and of course a great web designer!

Is Your Website A Part Of Your Team?

Over the last few years I have really become very aware of the important connection between a website owner and their website. The arrival of Content Management Systems has provided website owners with the opportunity to update their websites directly and in my opinion (and most importantly) allows the website owner to be an active participant in the process.

And, I might add, not every website owner understands or view the website from this point of view, at least not initially. But make no mistake about your website – it is a part of the team and it is going to play an active role in your company’s success.

In the old days (first generation – or Web 1.0), websites were seen as electronic brochures to a large extent. You were really taking the marketing and sales brochure of your organization and placing it online. Based on past experience – and also by the process through which websites were primarily managed back then – creating and launching a website was a “one time” event, with the website going live and then “great – I don’t have deal with that for another few years”. Your connection to any updates to the website were through your webmaster. Generally to pay a webmaster to update your website was costly and quite often not very timely – so this only reinforced the view of a one-time setup process of a website….

Roll forward to Web 2.0 and websites have now become a much more active part of the operations of a company (including the marketing, sales, and operations). The basis of a glorified brochure sitting online is becoming a thing of the past, and content management systems have become the norm. Your website is now a key player within your corporate team. Here are just a few of the roles websites now play:

1. First impression of your company for a prospective customer. (Marketing)
2. Introduction information about your company and key staff.(Marketing)
3. Descriptions of services and products that your company sells. (Marketing & Sales)
4. Key contact information, including directions to your office, e-mails & phone numbers. (Marketing & Sales)
5. Inquiry forms that entice a prospect to send a sales inquiry, as well as Social Media to engage your customers and web visitors. (Marketing & Sales)
6. Online Content, blogs, e-NEWS, photos and multimedia (Operational & Marketing)
7. Online Shops and e-Commerce (Marketing & Sales)
8. Subscriptions, registration login and customer portals (Operational)
9. Customer forms and documents (Operational & Sales)
10. 3rd Party add-on products such as Real Estate IDX (Operational & Marketing)

These items should really highlight the roles a website can provide to your company. And like any other team member, the website and its results should be actively included in periodical staff meetings. For every organization to be able to maximize the use of their website, this team member must be given high consideration!

So take the time to consider your website’s role within your organization. Starting with the education of staff members who learn how to update and manage content (and become responsible for it). Expand your knowledge of website statistics (so you can track and measure your success) and make these results a part of your corporate reviews and analysis. Call your website “Wilbur” if you have to – but be sure to create a culture where your website is an absolute part of your team!

Facebook Spends One Billion Dollars – Why?

Most likely no matter what your interest in Social media you would have heard of the recent purchase of Instagram by Facebook. I suspect the biggest reason we all heard about it was the actual buying price – one billion dollars (Somehow I could imagine Dr. Evil stating that price!).

What is Instagram? – Here is their explanation taken from their home page:

“Snap a picture, choose a filter to transform its look and feel, then post to Instagram. Share to Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr too – it’s as easy as pie. It’s photo sharing, reinvented.”

Instagram has no reported income to date but it has become very popular very quickly – approximately 15 million users since conception in 2010. Without being a user of this product I believe the filtering options is one of the big reasons it is so popular helping make a digital photo taken on a mobile device better. It offers filters that you select once you have taken the photo to improve (and finalize) the shot. Then it’s ready to share.

So back to our big question – Why did Facebook buy this?

The answer I believe is simple – we now communicate thru photos.

On average we design around 30 new custom websites each year and this year we have really seen the demand go up for slideshows, photo galleries, and photo integration into articles with our new developments. The story and message is now a photo (and not just words). And those photos help us interpret the story in a very different way than when we read and most importantly in a much quicker fashion.

And it is very possible that that future story or message will be sent directly from the field as a finished product – to a website or social media site. And this is where I hear a very loud message from Facebook’s purchase –“We believe this is how people will communicate in the future”….

In 2010 I was visiting Australia and was sending my fiancé Vicki Payne photos of my trip from my Blackberry. This was highlighted as I spent a day in Sydney including walking across the Sydney Harbor Bridge. The actual reason I was not using a camera was for convenience and time – I could take the photo – add some “inspiring caption” – and SEND. At the time I did think it was rather magic in particular sending photos directly from the Sydney Harbor Bridge as I was experiencing the views.

But you are probably wondering how good the photos were? Were they keepers or did they have a 5 minute inbox life span? No doubt a tool that would clean up the photo at the point it was shot and then allow me to select an appropriate filter or theme and send it to my loved ones, my commercial website or social media may truly make a keeper.

So why did Facebook spend one billion dollars on buying Instragram?

Maybe they just recognized the evolution of that next “Kodak Moment”!

What is Google Adwords?

Recently I had a prospect ask me to focus (almost exclusively) on improving their Google Search Engine positioning based on key words and phrases. The belief of the prospect was that you can manipulate results on Google easily and quickly and that regardless of your website (and its design) this methodology (known as Search Engine Optimization) could be implemented very easily.

Of course this information had been passed on to our prospect by a “Search Engine Optimization” expert selling their services, ranging in cost anywhere from $100.00 – $500.00 a month, maybe a lot higher. Regardless of the price, the premise itself should be considered and understood by every website owner. In a nutshell, if a company could “manipulate” the results of Google Search Engine it is obvious that Google would lose business (as the best websites would not come up on a search, only the best manipulated websites.). Google clarifies clearly on its website that no one can manipulate these results. They also identify that companies can help you with this process but it should start at the design phase. If you want to have the best search engine results you have to have a website that has great content. (PERIOD)….

Here is what Google Stats about companies offering number 1 ranking search engine results – .

Big and bold this article states “No one can guarantee a #1 ranking on Google.” So with that in mind, there is a service offered by Google where you can ensure placement on a search engine. It is called AdWords.

Here is a basic introduction to AdWords from Google’s Website:

With Google AdWords, you can create and run ads for your business, quickly and simply. Run your ads on Google and our advertising network, no matter what your budget, you’ll only pay when people click your ads.

AdWords ads are displayed along with search results when someone searches Google using one of your keywords. Ads appear under ‘Sponsored links’ in the side column of a search page, and may also appear in additional positions above the free search results. That way, you’ll be advertising to an audience that’s already interested in your business. You can also choose to display your ads on Display Network sites in the growing Google Network. Also you can choose the exact Display Network placements where you’d like your ad to appear, or you can let contextual targeting match your keywords to content.

You can choose from a variety of ad formats, including text, image, and video ads, and easily track your ad performance using the reports available in your account. There’s no minimum monthly charge with Ad Words, just a nominal activation fee. Learn more about the cost of advertising with Google AdWords.

Based on the requirements of our prospect, we have now offered the service of implementing an Ad Words Campaign. Bear Web Design itself has engaged in a month long AdWords Campaign primarily to get a better understanding of how it works and what work is involved in implementing a successful program. One of the major benefits in running an Ad Words Campaign is that you really can hone in on what your customers are searching for (which gives you a great deal of direction from both an AdWords Campaign and SEO)…

Keep in mind there are 3 faces of Google that are relevant to a business today – Adwords (which we discussed here), Google Places (which is tied heavily to location and type of business), and then organic search – which is pure content that google ranks websites on (along with many other parameters). And if you ever wondered how Google makes so much money the answer is their Adwords program.

I will be covering both Google Places and Organic Search in upcoming blogs. Having a good understanding of these can really help a small business make good decisions and direction in terms of their internet marketing plans.

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