Web site optimization, SEO and digital marketing tips for 2020. Web site optimization, SEO and digital marketing tips for 2020 by BlindDrop Design, a Cochrane Web Design & SEO service provider.

Why Is Optimization So Critical in Web Design in 2021?

Web site optimization, SEO and digital marketing tips for 2020. Web site optimization, SEO and digital marketing tips for 2020 by BlindDrop Design, a Cochrane Web Design & SEO service provider.

For many businesses, the beginning of a New Year brings with it a new marketing plan. Whether you are a new or established business, it’s critical to have a plan in place for your web marketing efforts. This applies to an online store, small business or large corporation. Your plan will of course include strategies to reach your marketing goals to increase your bottom line.

One strategy that is often overlooked, or under-developed, is web optimization. I am not just talking about Calgary SEO (Search Engine Optimization) services, which focus on ranking well in the Search Engines.

As we start 2020 with fresh ideas and goals for our businesses and online ventures, we need to consider the following key factors. These factors can help or hinder your Web optimization and Calgary web design strategies.

The definition of optimization is, “the action of making the best or most effective use of a situation or resource.”
Isn’t that what we want for our business and all resources and channels associated with it?

If you want your business to succeed online, your brand and web presence needs to be properly optimized.

Proper optimization will improve:

  • People’s first impression of your company
  • Brand trust & authority
  • Visibility in Search Engine results
  • An increase in positive reviews
  • Your company’s visibility on other vital profiles on industry sites and review sites
  • Increased back links to your website
  • Customer engagement (not only on your website, but also social media and other websites)
  • How long a customer stays on your site
  • Your multiple channels used for content distribution
  • Increased targeted traffic to your website (More targeted prospects and leads)
  • All of these factors will ultimately improve your bottom line

The optimization process is, as you can imagine, a very detailed and work-intensive process. For this reason, it is something often overlooked by Web development companies, who often overlook basic optimization factors.

Of course, you may have built your own website using a web builder service rather than hiring a web design company to create a custom website. In this case, your site’s success will depend on how much time and energy you had to learn SEO, UEO (User Experience Optimization) and core marketing techniques like doing Web marketing research of your competitors.

I’ve been building websites since 1997 and the funny thing is that many of the key design and digital marketing strategies are still effective. It surprises me how often these are still over looked, even by professional Web agencies.

That said, the biggest change I consistently see is that, as Web technologies get more intuitive and powerful, they get equally more complex to manage behind the scenes. For example, this applies to hardware, like the advent of mobile devices, and software, like Google’s search engine and apps. The easier things are for the end user, the more complex the engine is running them behind the scenes.

Here’s a quick example: if you want to know how well your website is optimized, you need to audit it. So, when I audit an existing website for a client, or when I audit their competitor’s sites, the site scores are usually in the 40/100 to 50/100 score. By comparison, a BlindDrop-produced website scores between 75/100 to 95/100 in our third-party audit. Which site do you think will naturally rank more highly?

When your website is properly optimized, it will rank higher and reach more of your target market.

It will provide a better user (customer) experience.

Overall, it will best represent your services, products and brand 24/7.

BlindDrop is a Calgary marketing company that specializes in optimization. When we produce a Website, we use at minimum, three different auditing apps to get the best range of reference to determine what is uniquely necessary for each client’s website.

To remain successful online requires agility and a proactive approach to your marketing efforts. The Web is an ever-changing landscape. Your website’s rankings change daily. Those rankings will depend on 200 SEO factors that influence Google’s ranking algorithms.

But, as I said, it is not only about ranking high in Google. You need to make sure your website is user-friendly, intuitive and professional. This is also a main goal of the optimization process as well.

Web Optimization Strategies for 2020

So, let’s look at ways to make the best or most effective use of your Web presence and marketing strategies for 2020:

1.    Your Branding

Branding development and promotion in Cochrane & Calgary, Albert


I’m sure you’re aware that your brand is not just your logo by now. Your brand is the experience and relationship created by your company with everything and everyone. This includes your prospects, leads, customers, employees and suppliers.

Your brand is your influence on the world. Its relevancy, authority and influence will shift over the years.

Being proactive and attentive to your brand is essential. Also, make sure you are consistent with your messaging across all channels, from your website to email marketing, to print and signage, to customer experience and human resources.

Make sure your visual brand is:

  • Professionally created, with a clean, simple iconic design
  • Is engaging and embodies the unique and authentic feel of your business and its offerings
  • Developed with supporting elements in mind
  • Comes with a branding guideline for future use, especially to share with third parties so they use the logo and branding material as intended
  • Carried through all media consistently, from your website, to mobile apps, to print and signage
  • You have placed some thought to a tagline or slogan.
  • Up to date – your brand needs to balance between maintaining its history and familiarity, but be open to tweaking your brand image and messaging over the years to embrace shifts in design, accessibility and target markets.

2.    Competitor Awareness

Competitor awareness in SEO services and Web design needed in 2020.


Competition levels, generally speaking, continue to grow, especially online. So, while we don’t want to dwell too much on what our competitors are doing, we need to be aware of where they are at, and more importantly, what they’re NOT doing.

As I noted earlier, a simple website audit can reveal where your competition is lacking from a branding and marketing perspective. It shows how much that business is invested in their online presence and, ultimately, how they are perceived by their audience. As this perception affects their bottom line, they are leaving money on the table by not dealing with these issues.

The awesome thing about competitors is that they actually are your key to success! Put aside your fears about them under-cutting you, or out performing you. There is room for everyone online. But you do need to know your niche, your competitors and your customers.

You can easily determine this with some top-level research. Once you know where your competition is at, you can more easily define your own goals.

3.    Build a Strong Foundation

When we build a client’s website at BlindDrop.com, we don’t just build a website. We always review the client’s current branding and online marketing efforts.

We then research the client’s niche and develop a Web marketing strategy. From this foundation, we start to develop the website.

Your Web foundation should include:

  • Professional branding
  • A well-researched list of proven keywords and search terms
  • An accessible website that is professional, intuitive, secure, fast loading and delivers the information, digital media, services and products your audience seeks.
  • Host your WordPress website on a managed hosting service, such as a dedicated server, that delivers highest security and page speed.
  • If you are considering using WordPress for your website, make sure you have chosen proven themes and plugins that help you optimize the critical functions of your website.
  • A core network of your brand’s channels that includes Social Media, Video and Industry-related websites. This sets the stage for your social media marketer to shine.
  • If you are a local business, you will need to focus especially on local search factors as well.

4.    Be Consistent

Consistentcy is key in Calgary marketing and branding solutions

Your brand is really a story that builds over the life of your business. As the story unfolds, your brand should remain the mentor to the intertwined stories of your customers, suppliers, employees and competitors. So, the one thing you can do to strengthen your story, to make it one to remember, is to be consistent.

Your brand’s story is told through your website, your social media channels, customer reviews and testimonials, videos, pod casts, employee longevity and any other medium that speaks of your brand.

So be consistent in your messaging. Review your branding, your content, your communications, signage and your phone scripts. Even simple things like your email signatures may be overlooked.

To be proactive is to be consistent in your delivery, despite the changes in your marketplace, your offerings or competitors. Consistency builds trust. Trust builds loyalty and authority in your niche.

5.    Focus on Authority & Service

Brand authority as part of online marketing success

Becoming an authority in your niche is critical to your online success. When you have authority, it is easier to build trust with those who are just learning about your company. The challenge with being an authority is that you need to maintain that edge every day.

An optimized web presence helps you build authority most quickly because:

  • Your brand is presented professionally
  • You appear among your competitors in Google search results and on industry-related review sites
  • You have an active web presence, both on your website and across social media channels
  • Your website is highly secure and loads quickly for your viewers
  • Your clients can easily connect with you via a variety of methods
  • Your industry awards and certifications are easily seen on your website and key profiles
  • You actively build and respond to customer reviews
  • You are able to determine shifts in demand for services and products and adapt accordingly

You will see that maintaining authority is aligned closely to maintaining a consistent, professional image and providing superior customer service.

6.    Be Active

Blogging is an important part of your SEO and web marketing strategy in 2020.

Yes, your New Year’s resolutions to be more active extend to your business and Web presence! A few key activities here:

  • Google rankings – Google’s current algorithms will rank sites higher that get more real visitors than a site that gets lower traffic. So, your ongoing optimization efforts help more people find your website, which in turn, ranks you higher.
  • Blogging – Adding new content to your blog is important, but focus on quality over quantity. By producing quality, optimized content, you’ll naturally reach more of your targeted audience and keep them on the page when they get there.
  • Social media – while being active on social media is an industry unto itself, ideally you are active on at least one or two key channels. From a marketing perspective, focus less on making a sale and more about providing value, sharing information beyond your own company news. This will help keep you top of mind, start conversations and build relationships with your targeted audience.

As such, all activities like these should be first inline with your optimization strategy and research. Again, this is an ongoing process, so your content marketing efforts need to be revitalized over time with fresh research data, updated messaging and proper distribution.

7.    Multi-Media

When it comes to optimizing your content distribution, go wide but stay focused!

Yep, you have to love paradoxes in life. By this I mean you want to distribute your content to a variety of media channels.

Keep it laser focused to those channels and your overall SEO strategy. This benefits your efforts the most.

For example, when you write an optimized blog post, also consider:

  • Making it into a video for YouTube, social media and embedded on your website.
  • Recording an audio-only version for a pod-cast or audio file.
  • Make it into a branded, optimized PDF document that can be downloaded and shared.
  • Creating lead-in posts on social media that draw interested readers to your article
  • To include your optimized content and messaging in your in-person sales presentation, advertising campaign and print media. Remember, consistency is key, but adapt it as needed for each medium, as your audience and delivery will change each time.
  • To use it as a basis for other types of advertising and communications in mobile phone apps, Google ads, email marketing,  print, radio and TV.

Web and Digital marketing can feel overwhelming. So many options and so little time. It’s hard to know where to start and which marketing channel will be most effective for your business.

Building a Solid Business with proper web strategy.

Some Quick Optimization Tips

  1. Start at the end – define your goals and decide what you realistically need to achieve from your marketing efforts.
  2. Be realistic – don’t over-commit to marketing to ten different channels if you only have time/energy/budget for two or three channels each month.
  3. Start with your “hub”, your website. It is the alpha and omega for your web marketing efforts. Yes, you can have success on your social media channels, but you don’t have as much control, impact nor freedom as you do with your website.
  4. Incremental changes add up – keep at it! It’s better to make small changes and efforts each month, than feel the weight of having to make many changes less often.

In summary, focus on making the best or most effective use of your online brand, internet marketing and website. Your efforts will have a ripple effect to all of your existing channels.

So, start with a professional audit, do proper SEO research and build a strategy from there based on your competition and your current Web presence.

If you’d like help with this process, just fill out the form below.

I can provide you with a detailed, one-time service that will objectively identify the areas that you need to improve and a strategy to get them actively in place.

Just fill out the following form to get started!

Lucas Arnatt, Cochrane web designer serving Calgary, AlbertaAbout the Author

Lucas Arnatt is a Web consultant and owner of BlindDrop.com, an award-winning Cochrane web design and SEO company based in Alberta. Lucas has been building websites since 1997 and has worked with hundreds of companies in Calgary, Alberta and across Canada.

BlindDrop specializes in branding solutions, website optimization, SEO services, custom WordPress development and managed WordPress hosting services.





Get a Professional Website Audit for $495.00

Whether you have a website or are starting a new brand, you need to know your competition.
You need a core Web strategy to make the most of your online marketing.

With our personalized web audit service, we use a variety of industry specific SEO and marketing tools to research and plan your strategy.

These tools are only part of the auditing equation:
Your manual review is completed by a Web Design & SEO Expert with over two decades of experience.

You can take the information we provide to your current Web marketing team, or we can help you start improving your website optimization today!

What is the Best Responsive CSS Framework According to Web Developers?

Local Web Design in Calgary & Area: CSS Frameworks

We came across this a great article about grid systems in relation to a CSS framework. This is a core area for designers as it can greatly streamline the users’ experiences of the Web site design across multiple platforms and screen resolutions. Responsive design is key to a fluid, inclusive and easy-to-manage Web site for yourself or your clients.

A grid system, or a CSS framework, is mostly used by web developers who are new to responsive design. Besides these ‘newbies’, there are also more experienced web developers who use grid systems or CSS frameworks because they want to save time, don’t want to write the same codes from scratch time after time, or don’t want the cross-browser/-device concerns and just want to be sure the website displays great on all computers and devices.

As you probably noticed in the previous paragraph, there are many terminologies used to describe frameworks and grids that can be used to easily create a responsive website. The most terms to describe these frameworks and grids are: Grid system, CSS grid, CSS framework, front end framework, UI framework, and responsive framework. At first hand, they all might sound the same, but if you do some investigation, you’ll find out that frameworks can be divided into two categories, the grid systems and the complete CSS frameworks.

From the article “The best responsive CSS frameworks according to 41 developers” on https://psdtowp.net/

A lot of us have heard of bootstrap, but did you know there is another framework that is as popular among web developers?

Check out this video that pits Bootstrap against Foundation:


Read more about BlindDrop’s Web development services. Please feel free to contact us with any questions regarding Calgary Web design, marketing and promotion.

The Temptation of DIY Web Design

When the seemingly inevitable point comes when your Calgary business cannot do without a website, when people wait with baited breathe and poised pen for your lips to start “double-u, double-u, double-u” or for those living in the fast lane “dub, dub, dub…” you may well be tempted to go the DIY route and whip something together over the weekend or during the evenings when the house has become quiet – just to relieve that mounting pressure.

Or, if you have a young employee with fingers blazing away at text-lightning speed, you might naturally assume they know what PHP, MySQL, and DNS mean because they apparently were born without umbilical cords (ever since pregnancy went “totally wireless, dude”). This is not to say that today’s youth are not skilled in technology, since we all know that a toddler’s knowledge of home theatre often stumps the thirty-something cable guy, but it is to say that successful technology is based on pairing geeky science (the language of the introverted) with the fleshy test ground of the general masses (the dance of the extroverted).

The Web didn’t wait long to look us dead in the eye and say, “Web 2 point what?” and then grab its long board made up of forums, chat rooms and membership sites and go for a new ride by turning into a more business-savvy entity, now known as “Social Networking.” Okay, this to me sounds like the geeky science guys went to a party and met some inauthentic marketers and they all got whacked out on a couple of six packs of those Energy drinks that come in lady-finger thin cans with logos done by a tattoo artist – so it’s cool – and they ALL decided in between slurps and tweets that it was time to “Network Socially.” This is akin to the brain thinking about emotion and deciding it’s the same thing as emotion.

Whatever “Social Networking” is or what emerging Web trends afflict on you, whether you’re an entrepreneur, dedicated employee, Fortune 500 owner or someone unemployed and on that vacuous Web treasure hunt on EBay or looking to “Make $10,577.98 per month with no effort whatsoever” (that includes the effort to use discernable common sense), the Web can be daunting wherever you are in the world. So to begin the task of stepping into this full spectrum virtual reality takes more than just exporting your site from Publisher or getting your Graphic artist to create your site from JPG images cut up in ImageReady.

Websites often seem to be singular entities and still look like electronic versions of a 3 panel brochure, but they really do rely on multiple strata of technology and human interaction.

A basic Website now needs the following support:

  • A well-chosen, not too long, but definitely relevant, domain name registered to you.
  • A loving and supportive Web host that provides all email and Web services 24/7.
  • An attractive Web design (either pre-fab or custom) to wrap around the content
  • The most intuitive and clearest navigation possible, including a planned site structure
  • Unique, accessible, informative and/or entertaining, Search Engine Friendly content
  • A doting audience of actual people, not just Search engine bots.
  • Advertising support provided by links, banner ads, Adwords, print advertising, etc.

Before plunging into building your own website, you do need to ask yourself:

  1. Do I have the time and patience to learn about: domain registration, domain name server IP switches, hosting account set up, email account and email forwarding configuration, fundamental website design, GUI design, ASP or PHP, DHTML or XML? Browser compatibility, Content drafting, revisions and changes based on recent SEO trends, how to set up Google Analytics, what Content Management solution works for you, if your images are to be stock or custom, if those images are copyright or royalty-free, whether you write promotional articles yourself, if you want a blog fully integrated or if you have to set up one on ANOTHER server at ANOTHER web address, or find a 3rd party e-commerce shopping cart to “somehow” fit into your html site, what GUI means, how to run adwords, adbrite, overture, how to add in a multi-page “sticky” form, or upload a file for your visitors to download, custom MX records, A records and just for fun, how to write your very own SPF records.
  2. Were you born without an umbilical cord? If the answer is yes, indeed, you were born “cordless”, you’re in luck, since you should know all of the above anyway, so no problem, right?

There are so many facets to building a successful Website that really; the Web designer is only part of the equation. A good Web designer will provide you with a good looking, functional site. A great Web designer will do their best to create a site geared to bring abundance to you, to plan for the future, to work in organic SEO at every level possible, build toward expansion in content and traffic and provide a look to the site that will not become dated as fast as you can say “drop shadow” or “3D bevel”. A great Web designer will do whatever you choose not to do, and do it better than you could. So keep your weekends free, spend evenings with family and friends and when you’re ready to say “dub, dub, dub” give us a call and we’ll take care of the rest.

Turn Your Website into A Web Presence!

How Can You Turn a Website into A Web Presence?
By Lucas Arnatt, Web Designer

A website is, by definition, a singular online entity. It has a unique address, localized navigation, some kind of Web design surrounding the site content and is, for all intents and purposes, a standalone resource. The general practice of website development from the 1990’s into the new millennium was to create a website as a digitalized, online version of a company brochure. In fact, a lot of companies simply copied their brochure content over from print to their new site. Of course, the Web evolves quickly and so do search engines and marketing techniques. Combine this with more advanced dynamic functionalities become more affordable or even free, the basic Web site can easily get lost or outdated.
What are some signs of an outdated Web site?

  1. Dated Design – most designers now build for a 1024 pixel screen resolution, and since older sites were built to an 800 pixel wide screen width, just seeing one built to this width can create the impression of an older design. Dated designs are also subject to much less functionality since they are based on a more limited technology.
  2. Dated or Stagnant Content – probably most obvious is content that is “old news” or last updated a year or two ago. This goes for broken external links to other sites that no longer exist…or have been updated.
  3. Dated copyright Notice – enough said.
  4. Little or No Communication Functionality – older sites rely on email and maybe forms, which is all good as they are keys of communication. However, newer sites can now offer “Live Support”, forums and interactive flash media to their gamut.
  5. Little or No Search Engine Marketing – chances are if the site is not updated regularly or built to newer standards the owners aren’t going to be out promoting it. This includes Search Engine Optimization and/or online ad campaigns.

So, if you have a website that sounds like this, you will want to read on to see how to turn your Web site into a Web presence.
The difference in a Web presence is the difference between the wall flower at a party and the chain of people doing the conga around the entire room to the beat of the music.
A Web presence is alive, it adapts, expands, gets attention and gets people looking. It goes to the beat of the lights and sounds of the party and obstacles that are in the way, just make the conga line more interesting! A Web presence is a living entity because it involves people; those who started it, those who join it and those who just enjoy watching it. As for the conga line there’s always the few in the line who call “C’mon!” encouraging others to join in. Those would be the affiliates! J
To take your current Website or if you are planning a new Website from scratch, you must consider the following key features to make your site a true online presence:

The site itself:

  1. Have a unique design that is clean, professional and eye-catching, but does not inhibit the navigation nor the accessibility or flow of content.
  2. The design should not limit expansion, but encourage it – it should easily be able to have new pages and functionalities added. Consider the nature of a blog or forum – these encourage new content and are made to expand with it.
  3. A Well Planned Navigation and site flow are needed to define which sections are passive, which are active, which functionalities are dynamic or static and which areas are most likely to expand. Ideal navigation will allow for the user to access any page from any page, with minimal clicks. Clear logical grouping of content into section/page/subpage is key.
  4. Have unique content that is written for the Web, not just transferred from a Print document or technical paper. You can make these documents into White Papers or single PDFs for downloading, but the general content on the site needs to be Web-ified and Search Engine Optimized.
  5. Add Reasonable Functionality – you don’t need an “Live Online Support” function if you don’t plan to use it. Determine who will do the site updates, either the Webmaster or someone who can be trained to use a CMS (Content Management System). If you have a portfolio, use a dynamic gallery to show it off. If you want a blog, make sure you understand how to use it properly. If you want to start e-commerce, be prepared to learn how to manage the catalog and admin areas.
  6. Search Engine Optimization – starts with the organic results generated by how the site is built, how accessible it and its content is, and how it relates to other websites. Then get your site manually listed in the top search engines and directories and start building reciprocal or back links to your site to help increase exposure and build popularity.

Once the site is live, you will need to:

  1. Continually review and develop effective Search Engine Optimization
  2. Expand into e-commerce, so your site can make money for you.
  3. Start to develop targeted ads using CPC paid listing campaigns like Adwords, Adbrite, etc.
  4. Collect Information about your visitors using Opt-in newsletters and special offers.
  5. Get feedback whenever possible from your visitors.
  6. Make your site as interactive and personal as possible.
  7. Explore how to use other channels (print, mobile, radio, networking) to elevate your Web presence even more.
  8. Update your content regularly and get involved in posting to othe sites, blogs and groups.

A Web presence is more powerful and successful than a website because it has people actively involved in these key areas.
A website is good as a channel for your regular business model, but a Web presence can take your success to a whole new level of communication and separate revenue stream.

For more information about how to revitalize your Web site and turn it into a Web presence, please contact us.

How to Prepare for Your Web Design Project

Is your company or organization starting the process of getting your Web site made by a professional Web design team? If your company is in Calgary, Alberta or elsewhere, you can help your Web design team, and your company, if you do a bit of preparation before you go seeking Web design quotes and buying domain names. You will save time and money in the long run, since you will be clear on what you want and where you feel comfortable in letting the project go in the hands of the Web design team.

Consider these tips before contacting Calgary Web design firms:

  1. Know your business niche. If you are starting a business or in business already, it is critical for you to know your business niche. Think location, your specialties, and areas you want to focus on in the future. Are you tied to one location, like Calgary, Alberta? Or can you run the business globally? Defining the scope of your targeted audience goes a long way in knowing what keywords and search terms to use on the site and in paid advertising online.
  2. Take a look at your current marketing material and how it is branded such as logo, slogan, stationary, business cards, posters, signage, etc. All of these may need to be redone if you don’t have the domain name already on them!
  3. Search out your competitors, both local and global online. The best Web design attracts local and global audiences and will be accessible to as many visitors as possible, although your focus is more local than global.
  4. Search the Web for half a dozen websites that you like for one or more reasons. These websites may be in your niche, but they might be from an entirely different niche. Take note as to what it is you like about that site, is it design, layout, content or some function, such as a blog or gallery?.
  5. Choose if you want a dark web design (light text on dark colored field) or a light web design (dark text on a light colored field. Review your business branding and decide what you think will fit your unique situation best. If you are unsure, make a note to discuss this further with your web designer when you meet.
  6. Think about what you want the Web site to do: will it be a simple static website? Or will it be interactive? Or is it going to be an e-commerce website?
  7. How deep are you willing to go into the development of the site? Will you be able to provide professional, edited copy for the website? Getting a new web site designed is great, but if your content is poorly written then the web design won’t matter! Content is King, so make sure you invest properly in this area and consider hiring a professional Web copywriter for the job. Hopefully your design team also offers writing and editing services, but if they don’t or you need a different writing style, find a professional who can produce what you need.
  8. Create a hierarchy of sections, pages and subpages. An easy way to do this is to look at websites in your niche who have a very similar navigation structure. This will help your Web designer define a realistic timeline for development.
  9. Get your logo and any branding elements you use for print onto a disc or ready for emailing.
  10. Organize any digital photos that you’d like to see on the website and if you know which page you want them on, list that too. If you need stock or custom photos provided, make sure you note this in your requirements when talking with your Web designer.
  11. Define your budget. Consider that a professionally built website will be good for a minimum of three years. Also make room in your budget for hosting, security needs and ongoing marketing for organic SEO and paid advertising.

You can save yourself time and money and provide clear communication with your Web designer if you take a couple of hours to plan out your ideas for your new site. You will be more confident and happy with the final outcome.

What Is the True Definition of a “Custom Web Design”?

By Lucas Arnatt, Web Designer

You’ll see this phrase all over the Internet when searching for Web site development, whether in Calgary or around the world, the term “custom” web design has itself become incredibly diluted in its meaning. While I don’t like to be pedantic with words, advertising can quickly gloss over a true meaning of a word by hoping that its target audience doesn’t fully understand the term’s definition, or the context of the term. If you go to a popular search engine and type in “Custom Web Design” you will see paid ads on the side that say things like:

Free Web Design & Hosting
30 Day Free Trial! Custom Website
Design & Hosting For $6.99 a Month.

This sounds like a good deal, right? “Free Web Design & Hosting” – Of course, they actually contradict themselves on the third line when the “Design & Hosting” now suddenly cost $6.99 a month! Hmmm…Can a trial actually be seen as free if there is a cost associated with the actual product? So “Free” actually means “on loan” or perhaps they mean that you don’t get charged extra for their website templates that you build your site with because they are included in the package price?

But I digress, my main point with this ad is the use of “Custom Website Design” in the ad copy and the question is, is this actually true? I would have to say no, that this is not a proper use of the term “Custom Web Design.” Why? Because they are using design templates that you can “customize” – which is different than an actual custom design that is started from scratch. Sure, you can change pictures in pre-coded spots, maybe change colours and positions, but in the end the design is a prefab template – this is NOT custom design, it is customized design.

Now, customization in Web development is extremely useful, it allows for fast, semi-automatic development where the majority of code is reused across a wide platform of applications. It streamlines the process and also makes security updates and coding/database upgrades a lot easier since the sites share the same code and database structure. This is the major advantage and reason for the large variance in Web site prices online since, for those willing to use template designs, they can make the process user friendly and basically automatic for ANYONE to use…and provide this service at an extremely low price. However, be aware that there could be dozens or hundreds of other companies using the SAME template that you’re using, which in the end, could well damage your image and not promote it.

For those who create a definitive custom design, their Web design process start with a blank page and a strong connection with their client’s vision and needs. Sure there is overlap with how these needs are satisfied, as there is also need to keep to certain, proven conventions in design that ensure proper navigation, logo presentation and content layout and promotion. But the goal of the custom Web designer is to create a unique, one-off design that will stand out from template designs and designs that do not satisfy or adhere to the needs of design conventions, nor capture the client’s perspective.

The best Web designer/developer will be able to balance between the customized world of coding and the custom world of design. This ensures a fast, manageable turnaround time in the development of the code and database (if necessary) and the integration of a design that is compliant with Web standards, is built for Search Engine Optimization and is unique in its graphic layout.

If you are looking for a custom Web site design in Calgary, Cochrane or anywhere else in the world, make sure you are getting a unique design by asking your Web designer if the design is based on a template or if they build from scratch. Take a look through their portfolio and see if their work shows variety, improvisation and innovation while simultaneously providing consideration for proper navigation, content flow and effective use of branding.

To get your custom Web design built in Cochrane & Calgary Alberta, just call or email Lucas Arnatt at BlindDrop Design Inc. We can provide full Web development services including a unique design tailored to your vision and brand. 

Calgary Web Design Company, BlindDrop Design

Are you a business or organization looking for a Calgary Web design team? A professional web design for your Calgary business will provide you with many advantages over competitors who still do not yet have a website, or have a website designed but have not updated it enough. It is true that a Web site can become a detriment to your company if you do not keep the content updated and play a proactive role in its development. So, beyond the initial web site development, you will need to consider that getting the site live is really the first step. It takes ongoing effort to keep your site updated, to make sure it is appearing properly and successfully in the top major search engines and that the site’s integrity remains intact through browser updates and server upgrades. Even beyond the Web, you must consider how to properly advertise and promote your Web site to your local audience in Calgary Alberta.

So, as a Calgary Web designer, I ask the question – Do you even need a professional Web design company at all? There are many free tools and resources online for you to learn and use to create your own site. If you’re willing to take on the onus of the time and effort to learn the software, contact support boards and forums, read instruction documents, learn proper search engine optimization – basically how to become a lightweight Web developer yourself – then these resources will help you. You do not have to learn code with some DIY web tools, but you will still have to learn what Web developers and SEO specialists learn, on an ongoing basis, since the Internet’s playing field changes and evolves along with coding standards, browser makes and versions, hosting requirements, domain name releases and general advances and trends such as social networking and mobile usage.

“Web Design” can easily become an ambiguous term for developing a Web site. A professional Web designer does far more than design the site. I’m sure you’ve heard the expression “Design & Build” well, a true Calgary Web design team will  “Design, Build, Promote and Expand” your Web presence and should readily look at how your offline efforts match your online efforts. Design envelops the look, function, performance and success of your Web presence – Web design should never stop at just being something pretty to look at. It’s purpose needs to be deeper.

In another article I wrote about how SEO (Search Engine Optimization) can actually be seen as Web Design, to show how integrated their goals are for a Web presence. So when you are looking for a Calgary Web designer make sure they can support you in the other areas of hosting, domain management, marketing (online & offline), can provide an ongoing service to keep your site easily found and help you expand the Web presence as you need.

If you are a business or organization in the Calgary AB area, it would definitely be an advantage, if not a prerequisite for you to find a local Design team to help you achieve your goals and coordinate your graphic design with your Web presence and online campaigns. You can consider your Web design budget as at least a three year investment, maybe even five years if your site is built and expanded properly.

In the end, you will need to find a Web development team that you are most comfortable to work with, a team that is focused on the key areas of making your site a success…not just making your site, period.

If you are looking for a proactive and multi-faceted design team, take a look at BlindDrop’s testimonials and featured client list, and if you are interested, please contact us via our Request form for a free quote on your Calgary Web design project.

Calgary Web Design & Usability Issues

1. First Impressions
Studies have shown that the human eye generally reads a webpage in an “F” pattern, from top left to right. Therefore, the hottest real estate on your business website is the top left area. Post your essential information there, especially your corporate logo. Overall, your website needs to create a great first impression and establish confidence and trust in your visitor. A Web design should not hinder or overwhelm content or branding on any page, including the home page.

2. Menus & Navigation
It is ideal to have consistent and universal navigation on your Calgary business website. This means having a menu that can access all pages at any time. This makes it easy for visitors to find the information they need and also maintains confidence in their experience with your company. Having supporting navigation such as breadcrumbs or contextual “previous” and “next” buttons or links to related items will reinforce the site’s overall usability. Consistency is key, and remember that navigation, such as text links and a site map, is also used by search engine robots when indexing your web site pages for their search results.

3. Contact Information
Make it easy for visitors to contact you by displaying your Calgary office address or phone number clearly on all pages of your website, or at least on your key pages. You can also have a contact us page that has more detailed information, such as different branches, key contacts or a contact us form. These days it is also not uncommon to see live chat options so a visitor can connect with your staff as they surf!

4. Call to Action
Even if it is just to get a visitor to call your office, a website needs a “Call to Action” – this is something that is defined by a combination of site navigation, content generation and site functionality, including e-commerce processing. What do you want visitors to do on your site? Where do you want them to go? What is the next step once they have found your site? Is it to call you? Buy a product online or learn something? Or perhaps share information with a co-worker in the form of an e-book or pre-recorded video.

5. Keeping Above the “Fold Focus”
Keep the critical information in the top area of your website, above the fold where someone has to scroll down to read more. This is why logos, menus and the main calls to action appear in the top part of the site design – they need to be easy to find and use, without the person having to scroll down the page to find the information. Of course, when detailed information is needed pages can be long, however, consider using a PDF document for more passive content, as it keeps the actual Web page shorter and more manageable.

6. Web Content that Invites and Offers a Return
A relationship is an ongoing commitment from both sides, it is not a one way street. While the visitor is looking for a product or information, your business is looking for that new customer and the sale they bring – and as it has been said before, it is so much easier to sell to someone who has already bought from you before. So, when I say “offers a return” I mean it’s a return for both sides, the returning customer finds continual value in your services or products and you retain them as a repeat customer. So keep content fresh, updated and consider adding a blog or Content Management System to you Calgary Web site.

7. Clear Content Layout
Organize your site so the visitor can easily flow from one page to the next, that information is prioritized in a hierarchy of need (both for them and you) and provide the information or product to them as efficiently as possible. Consider the home page as the gateway to the site and lead the visitor to what you can offer them (e.g. latest deals, latest information package, latest blog entry, etc.) and then give it to them. Ensure that each page follows a consistent layout for navigation and branding and that the content area is organized in a clean manner so the design of the site does not interfere with content delivery.

8. Appearance Matters
A website’s impression is made not only by what is included in the site, but what is left out. Bypass banner ads, third party advertising, non-interactive flash animation and overwhelming colour schemes that blatantly fight for the visitor’s attention. Visitors are generally looking for one thing on your site, so make it easy to find by keeping the structure and layout of the site simple, clean and direct. While someone may gain attention by wearing a speedo with flashing lights on it, most people will end up buying a product from the salesman who is a tad more conservative.

9. Trust & Security
With billions of Web pages online these days, visitors need to know, more than ever, that they can trust their valuable time and money to what your site has to offer. Security seals and trusted third party endorsements, 256-bit SSL Certificates speak directly to the visitor about what you have done to secure your Calgary web site. However, there are subtle, yet effective, ways to show your visitor that they can trust your site: include properly written privacy policy, terms of use, shipping and returns policy, unique logins for their registration, acknowledge you will never sell or share your information with a third party unless they agree and only email them to the degree to which they have agreed. A basic way to ensure trust is to have your site professionally developed as this shows you have invested your own time and money in something you feel is worthwhile to others.

10. Polish to a Shine
Errors happen, it is technology after all, and while we all want to believe that technology can deliver 100%, 24/7 – is that reality? The reality is knowing that accidents happen, glitches happen and once in a while things need to be fixed. The reality of the Web is knowing that technology is expanding and those tools made to make your life easier still take time to learn and use. As technology expands we must be prepared to update, upgrade and expand along with it. By working out all of the errors such as broken links (this requires ongoing maintenance), spelling errors, broken images, browser inconsistencies, etc. you can present a well-polished gem to your website visitor, which will inherently carry its worth in its visual appeal, optimum functionality and delivery of relevant, needed content.

Top 5 Marketing Tips for your Calgary Website

Top 5 Search Engine Optimization & Marketing Tips for your Web Presence

Here we are entering the second decade of the new millennium. The Internet and the World Wide Web keep building and are continually more influential in our business and personal lives. With the advent of “smart phones” and “net books” that allow for compact, mobile access to the Internet we can only expect this access and usage to increase worldwide. Just as cellphones made the anachronistic leap into lesser developed countries in the past decades, it is conceivable that our public wireless network will truly become world-wide and help level the playing ground of world economics and political responsibility.  I hope that technology will bring about that kind of positive change toward individual freedom and expression, rather than create more division and segregation in the world.

Now, change is inevitable and forever constant, Google algorithms show us this, and while it keeps us in the Web development and promotion business hopping, the search engine’s continual rebirth is needed to act as a catalyst for future standards and to keep those abusers at bay. I don’t think that SERPs are out to get us, for example Google’s main focus is to provide the best user experience possible, so when they ditched landing pages from their “in box” to their “out box” it improved user experience overall by acknowledging that there is more to life than making money. Landing pages are a marketer’s money funnel and while the information products that were being sold might be of some use to consumers I can see why Google made this change. Sure, we all need to make money to stay in business and sure we need effective, efficient ways to do so, however, when a marketing technique reaches saturation it will find itself in bullish territory.

Blogging is something I have resisted myself for sometime, for no other reason that it is another commitment in an already busy schedule. However, it is a force to be reckoned with as a part of the growing popularity of social media and also as a marketing tool for business owners. Unfortunately, I have seen a growing trend in blogging where SEO marketing companies are producing blog entries that are choppy, randomized articles that have the keywords, such as “Calgary Web Design” scattered throughout. This technique’s single purpose is to sidestep the “chore” of actually creating unique, useful content in hopes of getting a back link to their client’s site. This is an example of the other end of the marketing funnel – focused landing pages on one end and hazy, randomized blog entries on the other. The former is a hook, the latter a net. As a Calgary and Cochrane Web design company owner and operator, I wouldn’t condone either of these methods for our clients, however they do provide us with a gauge for the extent of manipulation companies are going to in abusing technology to make money. I guess what I am saying is that technology allows us to push its limits, however, we can’t be surprised with SERPs decide that enough is enough.

To this end, I would like to offer five fundamental components for search engine optimization and search engine marketing:

  1. Useful, organic content – Focus on producing unique, organic search results for your main Web presence. This means adding and updating content at a comfortable pace for you. If you think from the visitor’s point of view as to what they would find of value, then you are actually satisfying the SERPs too. At least the ones who define themselves by user experience. A blog is a great way to to this, but not the only way, adding new PDF documents, news articles and channeling relevant RSS feeds work too. Get your site built, or rebuilt, with a CMS (Content Management System) so you can do updates yourself.
  2. Meta tags cannot hurt – at least when done correctly. Research what the current acceptable rate is for Titles, descriptions and keywords and make sure the keywords and search terms reflect the organic content on the page. Make them as unique as possible.
  3. Use Search Engine Friendly URLs where ever possible – again, they work well for visitors as they do for search engine indexing. Since many websites are database-driven, this feature is becoming more and more popular and necessary.
  4. Get steady back links – back links, whether reciprocal or one way will help your site’s popularity, you can help control the search terms used for incoming links to your site by running an ongoing back link campaign on sites that are themselves popular, for instance, those that have a Google page rank equal or greater than your own.
  5. Make friends with Google – Since working with Google seems inevitable, since they represent approximately 70% of online searches, get set up with Google Analytics and submit a Google XML site map. While server stats are good as a default, Google’s webmaster services help open lines of communication between a Web site and those promoting it. Make sure your website is mobile-friendly!

It is good to challenge boundaries, and to test the extent of technology, however we always need to remember that it is people, not statistics or page views, that make the Web go round. People generally only are looking for one thing, whether it is a service or product, when they come to your site, so keeping it real will keep them coming back and not clicking away.