Category Archives: Web Design

The Business Owner’s Guide to Hosting

Web hosts provide the ‘space’ where your website lives on the Internet. Making wise hosting choices will ensure your visitors have a pleasant and productive experience on your website.

Let’s explore the factors that comprise web hosting, what your particular website requires to run optimally and what services are available to help you make the most prudent choice for your customers and for your bottom line.

The first question is, “What does your site need?” There’s a continuum of what websites ‘do’ — from being a static, informational page to providing a full-blown e-commerce experience. Here are some terms with which you should be familiar when assessing your specific hosting needs:3

With those factors in mind, you can make an informed decision concerning the server (hugely powerful computer). You’ll choose among:

Shared server: Your website is one of perhaps thousands running on a single server. Because you share resources with those other sites, the possibility exists that resources your site requires could be periodically distributed to meet the needs of other sites, temporarily affecting your site’s performance. If your site’s requirements are minimal, however, this won’t be a cause for concern and makes this the ideal — and least costly — choice for most businesses.

  1. Dedicated server: This is your site’s server — and yours alone. Choose this option when your site must have the highest possible degree of uptime (uninterrupted operation) and performance. It’s extremely expensive, and therefore not appropriate for all businesses.
  2. Virtual server: A server is compartmentalized into mini dedicated servers. This option provides a small dedicated server whose size can be scaled according to your needs. If your site periodically requires more resources — but not constantly — this is a more cost-effective choice than a dedicated server.
  3. Co-location: Your server is located at a data center (a specialized environment exclusively built and maintained to operate servers). They guarantee an outstanding degree of security, uptime and performance. If you need total control over the configuration and location of your server, this is the option for you.

Other website hosting considerations include:

Reliability: While all hosting services promise a high degree of uptime, it’s more important to some businesses than others. If your company will suffer with even minor and infrequent variations in reliability, host with a provider who offers a Service Level Agreement (SLA), which is a contract that defines and guarantees the level of reliability you can expect. SLAs come with hefty price tags which are only worth it if your business will suffer should your site go down.

Security: It’s important to learn the procedure a host has in place to safeguard the information you’ve stored on their equipment. “Redundancy” is a term that refers to the backup measures a host will implement to prevent data loss.

Google Translate Sample Page

This is a page to show how the Google translate widget works on a website. Google no longer provides new access to Google Translate for websites. They prefer you utilize the chrome translation function.

If you’re thinking about using the Google Translate widget, you can implement it by going to the Google Translate page, clicking on Translate Website at the bottom of the page, set up a site, and add some code to your website. It will then take all the text on your website and update it to the language the user selects.


Use the code below to add the widget to your website:

<div id="google_translate_element"></div>
<script type="text/javascript">
function googleTranslateElementInit() {
  new google.translate.TranslateElement({pageLanguage: 'en'}, 'google_translate_element');
}
</script>
<script type="text/javascript" src="//translate.google.com/translate_a/element.js?cb=googleTranslateElementInit"></script>

Machine translation is only about 70% accurate, so if you need to make sure your content is translated exactly as you want, then you are better off doing it manually and implementing a system that allows you to maintain it as easily as possible. Also, keep in mind that Google Translate doesn’t do images, so any images with text will still have the original text in them (notice the language on the books doesn’t change when you select a different language).

Google Translate is a good tool if you need some quick translations, but we don’t recommend it as a solution for everyone.

HTML, CSS and Other Web Design Jargon Business Owners Need to Know

The features your website offers will determine how much professional assistance you’ll require to create your presence on the Internet. Even if your website is entirely a leave-it-to-the-experts job, you’ll want to have a basic understanding of the terms used in web design.

As Web developers, we often throw around terms in meetings that our clients may or may not know. Terms like themes, CSS, SEO and a bunch of others.

Here’s a primer on some of the jargon associated with designing a website so you’ll be in-the-know when the acronyms start flying about:

CMS (Content Management System) — Your designer may choose to use a program called a CMS to create your website. WordPress and Drupal are two popular CMSs. They include the interface in which text, photos and the other content that comprises your website are entered. When created in a CMS, oftentimes, you can update your site’s content on your own without needing to hire a designer every time you change a price or add a photo. However, the CMS systems need to be maintained so they stay up to date and don’t get hacked.

Theme — Often this word is used in relation to a website’s design, or overall presentation. A website’s theme is its appearance, including the number of columns, location of particular features that appear on the page and the look of any graphical elements. The design, or theme, is the foundation upon which the look of the site is built.

Many platforms on which websites are built, like, WordPress or Drupal,  use the theme to keep the design of the site consistent. While the client can change the content on the site (the text, images, posts, etc.) typically, updating the theme requires more technical knowledge.

CSS (Cascading Style Sheet) — This is the technical term for the computer code that creates the ‘style’ of your website. In other words, CSS dictates how all the elements of the site’s appearance will be displayed, such as:

so that whenever these elements appear, they are consistently displayed site-wide. The CSS also controls how your site displays on various screen sizes, for example if your site is responsive, it will display differently on a mobile device with a smaller screen size.

Browser – This is the program on your computer or mobile device that you use to view websites. Internet Explorer (IE), Safari, Chrome, and Firefox are all browsers. There are also different versions of each browser, for example IE 8, 9, or 10.

HTML (Hypertext Markup Language) — This is the computer code that creates the structure of each page on your website. It includes information about the page, such as the version of HTML that is being used, links to other scripts (including javascript and css), search engine information such as page titles, and the content of your webpage.

SEO (Search Engine Optimization) — Search engines are the means by which Internet searches are conducted. SEO includes measures you take when developing your site (including proper keyword insertion and search engine-friendly site development tactics) to make the content on your website more likely to come up in Internet searches. Optimized content ranks higher in search results – and is therefore more easily found by interested people.

JavaScript – JavaScript allows additional functionality within a webpage. It can be used to make a webpage more usable, report information back to the web server, create animation and more. Although it can be very useful, it can also be disabled by the visitor to the website. Java and JavaScript are not the same.

Java – Java is a programming language, typically used to create applications. While it can be used to create websites, typically smaller sites don’t use Java. In order to run a Java application in your browser, you will need to have Java (the application) installed on your computer. Java and JavaScript are not the same.

A basic understanding of web design jargon will help you feel like you speak the language as you tackle creating your website on your own or consult with a designer.

5 Ways to Cut Web Costs Without Cutting Results

When you’re already paying for rent, advertising, and every other expense that goes along with running a business, the thought of paying for all the bells and whistles that go along with having a website can seem painful. But a website is a necessity for businesses both large and small. What’s a business owner to do?

There are ways that you can minimize the costs that go along with building and maintaining a website, while still getting the results you want — more clients, more sales, and more awareness of your business.

  1. Learn the content management system. When your web designer is putting together your site in the first place, make sure that they use a content management system. For fairly simple sites, WordPress is a great option (this site is built on WordPress). For more complex sites, we typically use Drupal. As long as you can spend a little time learning how to use that system, you can make updates to the content of your site (like adding new products) without asking your web designer to handle it.
  2. Shop around for your domain name and SSL certificates. There can be some dramatic differences in the prices of registering a domain name between different companies, making it crucial that you look at more than one domain registrar. There can be similar differences with SSL certificates. Similar products from companies like Verisign, Entrust and GoDaddy vary dramatically in cost. It’s important to look at exactly what you get for your money before making up your mind on hosting. Some cut-rate hosting providers don’t give you what you need, despite their low prices and big promises.
  3. Create a consistent style. It’s easier to maintain a website where every page looks similar than one with lots of differences. It also makes it easier to roll out social media accounts, mini-sites, HTML newsletters and every other aspect of your online presence — and the consistency will help your customers recognize your website and other efforts immediately.
  4. “Future proof” your website. While there seem to be constant changes to what technologies and strategies are used for websites, taking as many steps to make sure that your website can be easily updated is important. That can include, but isn’t limited to, avoiding website builders and templates that you can’t be sure have kept up with the times, making sure that your web designer is using the most up-to-date techniques and choosing content management systems that can be easily updated.
  5. Make arrangements to back up your website. Our hosting plans include daily off-site backups, but if your host doesn’t, make sure you have a backup copy of your site. Recovering a website after a problem can be an expensive (not to mention unexpected) process, sometimes requiring you to go back and have the site rebuilt from scratch.

You don’t need to become a web expert to make sure you get the most out of your website and there are some options that make the ongoing costs of maintaining a website much lower than in the past.