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Should You Have a Mobile Responsive Website?

Posted by Dane Petersen on Jun 18, 2015 1:00:00 PM

Should you have a mobile responsive website? Absolutely.

WebsiteInfographic_1This may or may not be surprising, but most businesses have not yet moved to mobile, and that could hurt their existing client base or potential new clients. Over 20% of all Google searches come from a mobile device. Responsive mobile website design allows you to have one website that is coded to dynamically change its design based on what type of device it is viewed on (pc, tablet, mobile phone etc.). This allows your website to reach as many users as possible.

Here are a few more reasons why it is essential for your website to be mobile ready:

1. Your website will be adaptive for future devices. Mobile responsive design is based on Media Queries which allow the developer to code your website to adapt to multiple screen resolutions.

2. Mobile sites provide users with the best user experience. I’m sure we have all run into a website that is not optimized for mobile, and have found it difficult or even impossible to access the information we are looking for, driving us to look for that same information elsewhere. Giving your user base an easy way to access the information will give your users the trust in your business to keep returning. It also shows your clients that you care about their experience.

3. Google may penalize you for not having a mobile responsive website. They have noticed the trend that users are more likely to view your website on a mobile device than ever before. Having the mobile version of your website will lead to better search rankings, giving your website more exposure.

"To improve the search experience for smartphone users and address their pain points, we plan to roll out several ranking changes in the near future that address sites that are misconfigured for smartphone users."
-Yoshikiyo Kato, Software Engineer, on behalf of Google Mobile Search Team

4. If your competition has a mobile version of their website this could potentially lead to loss of clientele. Over 60% of mobile users say that they will never return to a website as long as they are not provided with an easy to use experience on their mobile devices.

5. Having a mobile responsive website allows you to only edit once, and will display on all devices.This makes it even easier to individually manage your the content.

At Network Center, Inc., we strive to provide websites with the best possible user experience whether it's on a desktop or a mobile device. Please contact us for further information on building a mobile responsive website.

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Topics: Mobility, Interactive Services, Mobile Friendly Websites, Mobile Responsive Website

Benefits of Implementing a CMS Into Your Website

Posted by Mia Ness on May 29, 2015 4:15:00 PM

CMS_photoToday websites are much more dynamic than they where in the past. Gone are the days of setting up a static website and just leaving it be. In today’s fast-paced society, people expect a certain level of interactivity on a website, whether that be a blog, social media feeds, or continually updated content to keep their attention and keep them coming back to visit your site. The solution for this essential need for fresh content is a CMS, or Content Management System.

So what exactly is a CMS?

A Content Management System is an easy-to-use software that stores all the content from your website.  With this it allows multiple web administrators to login in and update a website’s content as you please without any coding experience or the need to contact your developer.

Why this is great for you?

1. It’s convenient.
You have the ability to log in anytime and update your site on your own terms. Let’s say it’s a Sunday and you need to post a company-wide reminder on your homepage. Ideally you want everyone to see it right away Monday morning. With a CMS you’re not restricted by the times your developer is available to update your site. You can change content, upload images, videos, and more! It completely cuts out the middleman, making your site more dynamic and ultimately more valuable to your visitors. 

2. No Coding Required!
A CMS is a WYSIWYG meaning “What you see is what you get.” If know how to create a Word Document, you’ll have no problem at all updating your site.

3. Cost Effective
Although we’re still here to help if needed, simple updates won’t require you to contact your developer. Other than the one time fee to build your site with an integrated CMS, there are no monthly fees for accessing your content.

4. Stay up to Date
Any quality CMS such as Drupal or Wordpress will provide you with functionality updates on a regular basis, giving you peace of mind that your site and content are secure.

5. Build a Marketing Strategy

A CMS also gives you the ability to implement a marketing strategy harnessing email marketing, blogging tools, social media and custom forms, among many other powerful tools right at your fingertips.

The Interactive Services team at Network Center, Inc. can help build a site utilizing a power content management system. Don’t hesitate to give us a call today, and let us help you make the most out of your company’s web experience!

Contact Us Today!

Topics: Interactive Services, website development, Content Management System, CMS

Utilizing Google App Engine and Amazon Web Services

Posted by Joe Dunnigan on May 1, 2015 4:00:00 PM

great_website2Oftentimes the most intensive and expensive part of building a website or application is managing your project infrastructure. I’ve interviewed our lead Application Developer, Joe Dunnigan to find out how we utilize Google App Engine and Amazon Web Services in our projects and why they are so effective for developers in today’s market.

So to start out with, what exactly do these tools do?

Both Google App Engine and Amazon Web Services are platforms you deploy websites and applications to that manage scalability and high availability on your site. Managing back-end infrastructure is incredibly time-intensive for the developer and thus expensive for the client. By deploying code to either of these services, you can free up time by allowing either Google or Amazon to manage your infrastructure for you.

What are the Benefits of using these services?

  1. Saves time: Allows us to build applications and websites quickly without worrying about the time-intensive underlying infrastructure.
  2. Faster loading times for your website or application: For example, a part of Amazon Web Services called “Amazon Elastic Beanstalk” propagates your code to servers across the world. If someone on the East Coast is viewing your site, the content will be pulled from a server on the East Coast near the user. In contrast if a user is on the West Coast, that same content will be pulled from a server closest to their corresponding location.
  3. More traffic – less crashing: Since it manages scalability, using these services gives your site the flexibility to adjust for high traffic on it’s own. You also have the control to adjust scalability manually if you predict higher traffic to your site in the near future. For example, both Netflix and SnapChat use this technique to scale accordingly throughout the day in order to accommodate traffic flow. As the infrastructure indicates that the demand is rising, it scales accordingly to meet that demand with no down-time.
  4. Cost-effective: Both Google App Engine and Amazon Web Services are charged based on usage. The more traffic you get on your site, the more it costs to manage that infrastructure. This makes these services ideal for start-up companies and small business, as it is initially a more cost-effective option.

A cloud-hosting infrastructure such as this is the best way overall to approach a potentially high-traffic site without draining resources. Clients need very little capital to get going, and it is perfect if your site is only busy during certain times or during certain events. The Interactive Services team at Network Center, Inc. can help guide you through this process. Don’t hesitate to give us a call today, and let us help you make the most out of your company’s web experience!

Contact Us Today!

Interviewer: Mia Ness, NCI Digital Designer
Interviewee: Joe Dunnigan, NCI Lead Application Developer

 

Topics: Interactive Services, Project Infrastructure, Cloud-hosting infrastructure, Google App Engine, Amazon Web Services

Exploring Mobility, the Cloud, and Analytics

Posted by Brett Anderson on Feb 27, 2015 4:21:00 PM

It’s an exciting time to be in technology! With new advancements each year, we are seeing increasing productivity, decreasing costs and many new ways to interact with customers. As these new technologies become more mature, their credibility increases and their usefulness in everyday business grows. Looking out into 2015, Network Center, Inc. is excited about 3 technologies in particular, and we encourage our customers to explore how they can make a difference in their business. Although Mobility, Cloud and Analytics have been around for many years, we believe they have grown in their features and practical uses. These three technologies will play an even larger role in 2015 and beyond. Here are a few of our thoughts in these areas.

mobility-1024x572Mobility

The use of mobile devices (tablets and phones) to drive productivity has gained popularity over the past several years. The reality is mobility is a two-sided coin and both sides of the coin need to be understood before you can embrace all that a mobile strategy can do for your business. The first consideration is related to productivity. How can you maximize your workforce via mobile devices? Allowing employees to access corporate email on their mobile devices is the easiest way to drive productivity, but everyone is doing this. How do you set yourself apart from your competition?  How can you make a difference in your employees’ success? How can you improve on the customer experience? These three questions can help you craft ideas that really make a difference. For instance, do you need an app with sales information? Or maybe a secure, responsive intranet site for inventory or scheduling details? There are many ways to leverage a mobile device to empower your employees and differentiate yourself from your competitors. Network Center, Inc. encourages you to build a strategy that fits your business!

The second consideration is the risk associated with allowing company resources to be accessed via mobile devices. What if the device is lost or stolen? What if there isn’t a passcode on the device? What if there are documents stored locally? What if the applications on the device have loose security? How do you mitigate these risks? The best way to address this is with an ‘insurance policy’ – a Mobile Device Management (MDM) solution can help you mitigate these risks. There are many MDM solutions in the market, but we can help you choose one that is a good fit for your needs.

shutterstock_105420140Cloud

If you have heard a few of us at Network Center, Inc. talk about “The Cloud”, you’ve probably heard a little sarcasm in our voice when we use that word – people are using the term “Cloud” to mean everything but nothing in particular. We’ve been fortunate enough to have many great clients who have embraced the cloud at varying levels. And this is really the power of the cloud – being able to choose what makes the most sense for your organization. There isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution but rather a fully customizable palette you can choose from. A few of these scenarios we have helped our customers with include: 

  1. Moving servers, compute and infrastructure offsite
  2. Leveraging productivity-based software in the cloud
  3. Building a business continuity/disaster recovery (BCDR) solution
  4. Mitigating connectivity or other soft issues
  5. Addressing cyclical and seasonal needs with scalable solutions

There are so many benefits to moving pieces of your business to the cloud. We encourage you to talk with Network Center, Inc. to see how the cloud can save you money, drive productivity and reduce risk. 

analyticsAnalytics

If you attended nVision 2014 you heard me talk about the power of analytics. I call it one of the most impactful yet underused technologies of the past 10 years. The best way to define the concept of analytics is to describe its benefits:

  1. Self-service: Easy to use and does not require a report writing expert.  If you can use Excel you can leverage analytics.
  2. Interactive: You can ask questions of the data, build variations of reports and be more analytical without writing new reports from scratch.
  3. Predictive: Analytics can be used in trending and predicting!
  4. Distributable: Rather than sending out large files, analytic solutions are based on reports that link back to the server data.

Many of our customers define Analytics as a game changer. If you want to learn how analytics can change your business, talk to your Network Center, Inc. representative. We at Network Center, Inc. are excited for what's to come, and we challenge our customers to do great things.

Contact Us Today!

Topics: Mobility, Website Analytics, Mobile Device Management, Interactive Services, Cloud Services, Analytics

11 Components of a Successful Website

Posted by Mia Ness on Feb 20, 2015 4:30:00 PM

great_website2Everyone has been to a great website that is easy to spend a lot of time on. But what really makes a site “great"? What makes you want to stay on a website and browse, when you could just as easily navigate away with the click of a button? Let’s explore 11 aspects of a “great” website, and how you can apply these tips to your own site.

1. Who is your audience?
Ultimately what do you want your viewer to do? Do you want them to buy something, read an article, or give you a call? This should always be the first question you ask yourself when you decide to build a site. You want your site to subconsciously direct the user to a goal, and you don’t want the viewer to scroll through miles of text if you’re goal is to get them to pick up the phone.

2. How quickly does your site load?
Unfortunately, people will only take note of this when speed is absent. As Internet connections get faster and faster, there is more and more content, images, and data for users to view and download. Everyone has been to one of those sites where you seem to sit there FOREVER to see your content or download your file. This by itself can be a major turn-off for people visiting your site. With a site that responds quickly, you’ll ensure that your viewers will stay longer and potentially return again in the future.

3. Navigation is essential.
If your user can’t easily get to where they want to be and get the information they want, they probably won’t stay terribly long on your site. Page navigation should be clear in the way it’s laid out and use a font that’s easily legible. If you have a very long page, it’s helpful if the navigation is either anchored in place or you have a “Back to Top” button of some sort to avoid unnecessary scrolling. 

4. All of your links should work.
Broken links are a huge turn-off for users and search engines alike. It can be perceived that your site is not well maintained and question the integrity of your business. Who wants to hang around on a site that doesn’t work? Having multiple broken links can severely hurt your search engine rankings as well, creating a domino effect that could potentially impact your overall business. 

5. Optimize Search Engine Optimization (SEO).
Search Engine Optimization is the process of affecting the visibility of a website in a search engine such as Google, Yahoo, or Bing. Optimizing a site for SEO involves editing a site’s HTML content, headings, and metadata to increase a site’s relevance to specific keywords. Increasing the amount of inbound links or backlinks is another tactic to promote a site and increase search engine optimization.

contactform26. A contact form of some sort should be easily accessible to the user.
Your site may be absolutely stunning, but if a method of contacting you is unclear, then that pretty site really won’t help you much. Again, ask yourself what is your ultimate goal? If the purpose of the site is to get the customer in front of you face to face, you need to spend some time thinking about the visibility and accessibility of your contact form. 

7. Use appropriate colors for your business.

  • Red – Is a common color in the food industry. It’s attention grabbing, aggressive, and evokes a call to action. It’s also been scientifically proven to increase appetite. However, it’s also a color that can easily be overused. Too much red creates a kind of mental shutdown and nothing will stand out. Try pairing red with cooler colors to tone it down a bit and really make it pop.

  • Blue – A very calm, reliable color. Evokes of sense of trustworthiness and reliability. Companies use blue to let you know you can stand by them, and they will be there for you. 

  • Brown – Brown is a common color for stability. This company is well rooted and very reliable. It’s also very earthy and is a good color for representing organic-type products.

  • Green – Green, like blue is a cooler color that evokes feelings of trust. It’s a very common color in the tech industry due it being reminiscent of green type on a black screen. It’s also very common in industries that want to represent a feeling of soothing calm.

  • Yellow – A very cheerful and energetic color. Like red, it’s often used to draw attention and can easily be overused if you’re not careful.
  • Black – Black pairs well with any color. It’s classic and elegant. A very common color in the financial industry, black evokes a sense of power and boldness. 
  • White – White, like black is very versatile and can be paired with any color. It’s simple, clean, and elegant. More whitespace is always a good thing. 

Of course you can use many combinations of multiple colors to fit your needs and evoke desired feelings. Yellow and black may be an excellent choice for a successf­­­ul construction business, but if you take that same yellow and pair it with orange and blue it takes on a lighter, more playful quality. Choose color combinations that make sense for your business. If your logo is red and orange, blasting your site with too much of these colors is overwhelming. Find colors that will compliment your brand so your logo pops and is easily visible.

8. Spell everything correctly.
People are very critical of spelling and grammatical errors. Misspellings can come across as a business that lacks a sense of detail. Have multiple people proofread your content to ensure that everything is correct and makes sense to the user. 

9. Don't over-explain the content.
Writing for web is a little different than writing for print. There is such an over abundance of information online, so people usually skim through the content instead of taking time to read big blocks of text. So if you’re taking the time to read this, great! Many readers are probably just skimming the headlines, and they will do this on your site too. If your goal is get the viewer to actually contact you, don’t overload them with so much content that they don’t feel they have to.

10. Include a purposeful footer.
Many people will look for contact information or an extension of the navigation in the footer area of the website. This is also a great spot to place social icons, or even a sign up for a newsletter or blog. Make sure the footer is purposeful and contains relevant information for you site. If you have a great deal of scrolling on your website, a “Back to Top” link above the footer is very user-friendly option to include as well.

mobile_friendly11. Make your website mobile friendly.
In today’s busy society, there’s a good chance people are going to be looking at your site on a phone or tablet. The NCI Interactive Services team always designs sites to be responsive and can be viewed consistently across any number of devices. 

These are just a few helpful pointers to help you improve or create your new website. The Interactive Services team at Network Center can help guide you through this process. Don’t hesitate to give us a call today to let us help you make the most out of your company’s web experience! 

Contact Us Today!

Topics: Web Design, Interactive Services, website development

The Interactive Services Client Process

Posted by Mia Ness on Feb 2, 2015 4:57:00 PM

Website DesignSo you’re in the market for a new website. The last time you changed the look of your site was about 8 years ago. It currently looks flat, blocky, and the navigation is clunky. You’re prepared to take the leap into the process feet first, but you’re still not sure what to expect. “How does the process work?” “How long will it take?” “How do I convey what I want?” A website is an important investment for your business. Not only will you be able to reach out to a larger pool of potential clients, but you’ll also have the power to target the individual needs of your customers. “So, this sounds great. But how do I get started?”

Sit down with a designer and developer for an initial meet. This first step in the process is crucial because it sets your expectations for the project. Communication is key. This is the part where you tell them what you want out of your site so they can give you an accurate idea of the “Scope,” or overview of the project. The more detailed you can make the scope, the smoother the process will go, and the estimation of price will be much more accurate. So, as the client, what can you expect from the designer and developer, and what can you do to make the process go as smoothly as possible?

  1. Research: The more information you can provide the designer and developer with, the smoother the process will go. It always helps if you’ve surfed the Internet a bit, and can provide some examples of what you like. Tell them specifically WHY you like the examples you provided. This not only helps the designer, but also the developers in knowing what you’re looking for as far as back-end functionality.

  2. Set Realistic Expectations: This goes both ways. Tell your designer/developer exactly what you want in the provided timeline. As a designer/developer it’s also their responsibility to give you, the client realistic expectations for your goals. If you ask for something out of the ordinary don’t be surprised if that takes a little more time (and costs a bit more) than usual.

  3. Website DesignSay What You Don’t Like: Most people will spend the majority of their time telling the designer what they like, but they forget to mention what they don’t like. This is just as important. Is there a color you can’t stand? Something you just don’t want your site to do? Let them know! The more information you can give them the better.

  4. Be Completely Honest: It’s their job to create a site for YOU. It’s your site; so if there’s something you’re not crazy about after the initial proof, please don’t hold it back! Don’t be afraid of offending them by saying what you want out of your site. The more honest you can be, the smoother the process will go, and the happier you’ll be with the finished product.
  1. Be prepared for questions, but don’t forget to ask them too!: Initially, you’ll hear questions like, “What colors do you prefer,” “What does your logo look like?” “What kind of functionality does your site need to have?” The more questions on both sides, the more accurate the finished product will be. As you get further into the development stages the questions will become more specific. Communication is key.

  2. It’s better to Over-Budget than Under-Budget: With any large-scale project it’s safe to say that you might have some unforeseen complications or requests somewhere in the process. As a client, don’t spread your finances too thin. Be realistic about what you can afford, and clearly communicate that to your designer/developer. Accurate communication really helps streamline the process so you get the most out of your site.

  3. Website DesignWhat if I don’t really know what I want? That’s fine too! Especially if it’s your first website, you might not have the best idea of what you’re looking for. This is where good communication and accurate questions come in. It might take a little longer in the early stages, but you will still get to your goal. Don’t be afraid to experiment with out of the box ideas.

  4. Share Meeting Notes: Sometimes you cover a lot of information in one meeting. If a great deal of information is presented, it’s unlikely the average person is going to remember every item discussed. It’s ideal if one person takes meeting notes and shares them with the attendees directly following the meeting. This way you can ensure that everyone is on the same page and avoid unintentional “he said” “she said” situations.
If these tips are followed throughout the preparation process the rest should flow smoothly. Moral of the story is that the more prepared you are walking into the process, the smoother the overall project will go. Above all, HAVE FUN! These pointers are applicable to mobile app development, custom application development, and many other products within our Interactive Services department as well. Our talented team can help you through the process from start to finish to make sure that your product not only looks the way you want it to, but also includes all the functionality you need for your business to be successful. The process shouldn’t be a hassle and the ultimate goal is that you absolutely love your new product. 

For more information on website development, contact a designer or developer at NetWork Center, Inc. today!

Contact Us Today!

Topics: Web Development, Web Design, Interactive Services

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