Giving Thanks

Giving Thanks

This year is not over yet but Sunita and I wish to thank all of you from the bottom of our hearts. Not only for trusting us with your design projects but for being so nice to work with on a daily basis :). We are very blessed to have such an amazing bunch of clients!

A few shout outs for 2016 that we’d like to mention:

  • This year we moved to our new Redmond office. It was a scary move, but ended up being great for the studio. This is proof that even rough situations can lead to great opportunities. Our current office better reflects our studio’s mindset: colorful and inspiring. If you haven’t had a chance to visit, what are you waiting for?!
  • Another big thanks to Pyramide Production for giving us the opportunity to collaborate on the Microsoft Book of Dreams project. This project got the attention of MS CEO Satya, and he recognized the project’s success at the MGX keynote presentation.
  • Thanks to Biscottea for trusting Sunita’s great photography skills. This makes them the first official client who took us on for product photography. You will soon see the results on shelves word-wide!
  • Thanks to Novo Fogo as this year we celebrate seven splendid years of working together! Thanks to their amazing team and products, our designs are displayed not only in the best bars and restaurants in the states, but also in many hotel chains, and even on luxury cruise ships! Now let’s hope we can get some free stays in any of those amazing locations :).
  • We have another great bee, Archit, joining our creative hive. Thanks to him we can expand our horizons in web development, SEO, and many other tech based services that we could not handle before. Thank you Archit for being a such great addition to our team!

Thank you all, and have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

 

 

Responsive Web Design 101

Responsive Web Design 101

Responsive web design (RWD) is an approach that is becoming more and more popular if not the way to have a site nowadays. The concept aims at designing sites to embrace the flexibility, and unpredictability of internet browsers and throw away fixed widths. The end goal is to design once and have it presented appropriately everywhere whether it be displayed on a giant monitor or a tiny mobile device.

With this new method on the rise more like routine these days, there are changes in the workflow that every designer/client should be aware of:

  • Content Priority: Info/content first. It’s best to think what info do you want your viewer to see first – especially when an average viewer has a very (very very very) short attention span.
  • Think small, then big – MOBILE FIRST. In this day and age, most check websites on their mobile devices whether it be phones, tablets, phablets etc. so be sure to cater the design more for mobile and work from there for the full-size site on a desktop.
  • Consistency is key.

Our graphic header is a great example of how RWD works showing the original graphic on a laptop and how it may translate to smaller mobile devices.

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Helpful articles:

W3Schools – CSS Intro to RWD
W3Schools – HTML Intro to RWD
Smashing Magazine – Responsive Web Design Guidelines and Tutorials

Responsive Web Design in a nutshell:

rwd-content-is-like-water-1980

WordPress Plugin Starter Kit

WordPress Plugin Starter Kit

Here is a compiled list of plugins we recommend installing to your WordPress site ranging from super helpful to bells and whistles type plugins.

WordPress sites have been a common request from clients here at CreateHive. With each site, Paula and I notice that there are standard plugins we instinctually install into each client’s site. Gathered here is a list of plugins we definitely install and some extras that have been very nice additions to sites.

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Plugins that help behind the scenes during the construction of a new site:

Database Help
To update the domain/url from the database (without sifting through code) – serves as an easy search and replace.

Plugins:
Go Live Update URLs

Under Construction
This is for when we are working on a live site and not wanting to fully launch it yet. It puts an “Under Construction” sign up as we work.

Plugins:
Coming Soon / Maintenance mode Ready!

Elegant Themes Helpers
Since we frequent the use of the DIVI theme from Elegant themes, here are some helpful plugins to help facilitate the use of the theme.

Plugins:
Elegant Themes Updater

Code
Helps implement code into posts/pages like PHP or JS.

Plugins:
Insert HTML Snippet

Child Theme Aggregate
Helps create new child theme without you creating your own on the backend side.

Plugins:
Child Theme Configurator

Security

Plugins:
Wordfence Security

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Style plugins to help the construction of a site:

Forms
Some clients want a more customized form vs. the standard WordPress one.

Plugins:
Ninja Forms
WordPress Appointment Booking and Online Scheduling Plugin by vCita

Social Networking
Different ways to integrate social networks to WordPress sites.

Plugins:
jQuery Pin It Button For Images
Pinterest Pin It Button For Images

Bells and Whistles
Some common additions clients typically like in their site.

Plugins:
Kiwi Logo Carousel
YouTube 

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Plugins that help once site is up and running:

SEO/Tracking
Helpful tools to help track stats for sites.

Plugins:
Google XML Sitemaps 
Google Analytics by Yoast
Yoast SEO Plugin

General Fixes / Help
Fixes to help the site. Often are changes made by WordPress updates.

Plugins:
Advanced Excerpt
– Duplicate Post

What is SEO?

What is SEO?

If you’ve ever wondered what SEO really means…

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is a group of actions affecting your website or web page organic (not paid) visibility and ranking in web search results.

SEO most common misunderstanding:

It would be nice if SEO worked as easy as a snap of a finger. The reality of things is that having a beautiful website does not necessarily mean you will be first in line or even on the first pages on Google or other search engine results.

More than it seems:

There are a lot of considerations when designing a website that would work efficiently with SEO. Also, the build-up of a good search ranking does not end when the site is up, but is an ongoing hard work that should continue as long as the website exists.

What search engines look for?

Search engines look for relevant written information and rich content, in contrast to obvious advertisements or selling blurbs. They look for how many other sites found your site relevant by linking to it. Also, engines look at how often you update your content to keep up with the dynamic demand.

As far as ranking goes, written content will always come first, before images, before movies, before music or effects extravaganza.

As a design company, our challenge is to find the right balance between relevant content and a visually appealing results.

Here are some tips:

  • Submit your site to the search engines:
    • You will never be indexed unless you announce your presence by adding your site to the search engines.

      Google: www.google.com/addurl.html, Bing: http://www.bing.com/toolbox/submit-site-url

    • The most common search engines are Google, Yahoo, and Bing. Btw, Yahoo’s search is actually provided by Bing.
    • Submitting your site to the search engine is the first step on your way. Although most times this process takes a few days, it can sometimes take weeks or even months without any particular reason. Neither of the search engines provide an SLA for how long this can take.
  • Good written content is the most important key for success:
    •  Use relevant content as well as phrases and keywords which your target audience might type in a search engine when looking for sites such as yours.
    • Make the written text relevant.
    • Balance your content. Don’t over saturate content with unnecessary repetitive keywords. If a search engine word counter find your keyword count suspiciously high (known as Keyword spamming), it can delete that keyword from the search count altogether.
  • Keep it fresh:
    • Updating your content regularly will help your site ranking, as search engines will see your site as a living and dynamic source of information.
    • If your site has static content, you may want to consider adding a blog to it.
    • You already have a blog? Keep it coming. A good target is to post 2 times per week.
  • Use proper title and descriptions for each page:
    • A page title says a lot about its content. Even if you would prefer to use short names on the visual navigation, you should use the extended full name in the page title. For example, the navigation link can say “Services” and page title can be “Real Estate Services for the Puget Sound Area”.
    • A “description” meta-tag is an extra content your developer or designer can add to the structure of your page. It’s not visible on the page itself, but search engines see it, and it’s usually shown as the first paragraph under your page URL in search engines results.
    • Use relevant Alt text (alternative text) for all your web images.
  • Links:
    • Links will be your best friend in the Internet. Getting other sites to link to you is the fastest and best way to boost your ranking in search results.
    • Social media is good way to do increase exposure. Have a profile on LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram and any other relevant social media site related to your business. Even if you won’t keep them very dynamic, their links connected to your site will help you (still, I encourage you to keep your social media network alive!).
    • Write content and publish articles relevant to your market or industry on other known web portals, and have them link to your site.
    • Try to get relevant sites to write about you or review your company.
    • When linking to your site, try to get the links text to be as descriptive as possible. For example, it’s better to have “CreateHive graphic and web design studio” rather than “Company info.”
  • Be patient. It takes time for your site to build a history on the Internet.

Nothing that’s given for free has guaranteed results:

Let’s not forget that we are talking about “organic” (not paid) end results from search engines. None of the search engines (Google, Bing, Yahoo, etc.) guarantees your website ranking or visibility results. Paying for ads, for example, won’t boost your organic results but will expose your site in the ads zone.

SEO investment strategy can vary in time & cost:

  • From as little as just submitting your site to search engines.
  • Up to big operations, which could be a full time person, department or a SEO dedicated outsource company generating content and working to secure cross-links with other sites.

What we, as a web design studio, can do for you?

  • We will build your site following the most common SEO industry standards, along with a visually appealing presence.
  • We can give you pointers if needed regarding your written content to make it more SEO friendly.
  • We will add your pages meta-data (titles, descriptions and content tags).
  • We will upload your site map to Google and Bing.
  • We can set-up your Google Analytics account.
  • We can help you with ongoing website maintenance and help updating its content following your lead.
  • We can help you design or add a blog to your site.
  • We can provide you with short and long strategies SEO plans.

I hope all the above will help you understand the Internet wild-west, and how SEO fits in it.

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