Web Design and SEO Blog
Oct201520Announcements, Design, Development
We built Price Rite’s current site back in 2008 and at the time had implemented a double home page system that divided their two main services into separate sites. For this new overhaul, we will combine the two service-focused websites into a single cohesive site and will implement responsive web design so that it is accessible from all internet devices. Aside from reorganization to clearly represent the scope of their business, our team will design an updated user experience — a fresher aesthetic and content creation to improve search rankings and more comprehensively describe their catalog of products and services.
We are excited to be working with Price Rite again and look forward to diving into their responsive website overhaul soon!
Oct201513Design, External Publications, Industry News
Content blocking is going to substantially change the way in which we view content online. Although a lot of people have heard of and use AdBlock already, the newest iOS and OS X updates promise a staggering variety of more selective content blocking applications that will not only block ads, but prevent tracking activity and lessen the burden of heavy bandwidth and battery usage that many advertisements place on mobile devices.
Problems are created by most of these forthcoming content blockers. Not only do they block advertising that provides revenue for many sites, but they also block scripts that are necessary for a site’s essential functionality. To counter this, web developers are forced to adapt their coding techniques to maintain functionality in the face of content blockers being employed by visitors.
To address this major change in the world of website design, we have published an article with Speckyboy Design Magazine, a designer’s resource for tutorials, and insightful articles on the latest web technologies. The piece is titled “Adapting Mobile Web Usability for Ad Content Blockers” and we invite you to read it here.
A website, no matter how advanced, attractive or user-friendly, can’t work to its full potential without visitors, which is why putting some effort into search marketing is essential to grow your thriving website. Every business is different — different target customers, products, services, goals and ideals — so your approach to website marketing should never be cookie-cutter.
At JTech, we design detailed search marketing plans for you to acquire customers. Whether you have an aging site that would benefit from additional traffic to challenge a competitor, a new product line, or you’ve just launched a brand new interface — your site should be attracting targeted customers and making you money. Our skilled marketing team at JTech creates marketing plans to best fit your organization’s needs and goals, breaking down a clear strategy:
- We outline current SEO rankings, competitor rankings and ways to improve those numbers.
- We’ll explore social media solutions, pay per click and other search advertising options.
- We create brand personas in order to build a search acquisition plan that will reach the determined target audience.
- With Analytics and performance monitoring, we can track which keywords and ad campaigns are succeeding and which ones need to be tweaked to help you meet your goals.
Interested in building a customized internet marketing solution? We are happy to discuss an approach that will meet your budget requirements to find the right balance for the success of your business.
Sep201529Announcements, Content, Social Media
Photo credit: Pixabay
73% of the US population has a social media account (1) and over half of those users check their Facebook, Twitter or Instagram at least once a day (2). This is an enormous audience for your organization’s marketing efforts.
We understand many businesses do not have the time or effort to throughly utilize this huge resource. Our internet marketing specialists offer social media packages, customized to each business’s needs. In addition to setting up and launching any desired social media accounts you feel would benefit your organization, we will consistently provide fresh content for you, engaging your audience and driving them to your website.
Your social media sites will constantly be working for you as we follow a custom marketing plan, built for your company’s goals. By expanding your marketing efforts to social media, you can gain the attention of new customers everyday, collect positive reviews and provide customer service, all through Facebook, Twitter, Google+ or your other social media accounts. If you are interested in greatly increasing your business’s audience and improving your marketing efforts, contact us to put together a social media package today.
Sep201528Announcements, Development, Tools & Tips
Photo Credit: Stevepb, Pixabay
Through an exclusive partnership with an objective industry expert, JTech is offering a no cost, in-depth analysis of all aspects of your merchant account, including pricing, fulfillment practices and any potential risk issues to which you may be exposed. This is an offer that can substantially benefit all of our existing clients, without cost or obligation, whether or not they provide ecommerce.
Business owners today are often heavily solicited by merchant account providers, the majority of whom use aggressive sales tactics, know very little about the complex industry they're in and after the sale, are nowhere to be found. With the overwhelming amount of options available, the ever-changing marketplace and the generally confusing terminology, it is an asset to be able to consult with a seasoned expert in the merchant services industry. With the assistance of our partner, we can give you an honest analysis of your current account structure to make sure you're saving money and have the most ideal online solution. This thorough planning process ensures you always get competitive credit card processing rates, have the most streamlined system and are provided the tools to mitigate risk, making for effortless business transactions, operations and overall happier customers.
We’re very excited to be able to offer this no cost service for your website. To take advantage of this opportunity and make sure you're getting the most out of your merchant account, or if you have questions, contact us today.
Sep201522Design, External Publications, UX
JTech has published another successful article with the online web designer and developers information resource, Web Designer Depot. The piece is titled: The UX Case Against the Home Button.
Below is a synopsis of the article. You can enjoy it in its entirety here.
As users become more fluent in navigating the intricacies of the web, having a prominent home button is becoming an unnecessary navigation crutch — a visual obstacle that web developers increasingly eschew. By culling the home button from this list, the decision-making process is simplified and we are able to provide an improved user experience. Reserving it a space in your site’s primary navigation when the same functionality exists elsewhere is a waste of valuable real estate.
Reducing decision-making and cognitive load for your users will help encourage more conversions — purchases, videos watched, articles read or whatever tasks your site helps visitors complete. Even giant organizations such as Amazon, Apple, Twitter and Wikipedia have done away with their home button because home is not where the primary source of interaction is taking place, but merely a location for featured offers, promotions or a table of contents. This is a philosophy we’ve integrated into our custom website development as well.
“Digital marketing is by far, the most intriguing field I have come across in my studies,” Sam says of his new venture. “I knew after a short time that it would be an enriching career, and the concepts and ideas that come along with it present challenges that motivate me like nothing I have found yet.”
In his free time Sam takes his horse, Molly, out to the mountains in search of Montana’s hidden scenery. He also enjoys fly fishing, playing guitar and shooting pool. What he likes most about Bozeman is how quickly he can find himself in the mountains, or fishing a secluded lake or stream.
Sep20158Announcements, Design, Development
Our second project for Nistler Home Builders has been completed. Ryen Glenn Estates, a brand new subdivision in Belgrade, Montana, has a brand new online home. The site features stunning local photos and a comprehensive list of nearby attractions, outlining the amenities offered by the surrounding Belgrade community. This site was created with responsive web design for a top-tier experience on phones and tablets as well as on desktops.
An impressive feature of Ryen Glenn’s site is the Plat Map, which overlays specific lots available for sale in the Ryen Glenn subdivision over a Google Map of the neighborhood. This information is dynamic and a lot can be updated with unique details. The map is completely interactive, allowing prospective real estate purchasers to zoom in and out, switch between street and satellite view and select a lot to view square footage, prices and a brief description of the area. This feature allows home buyers the very best and most advanced experience when selecting the perfect location for their Montana homestead.
Sep20158Content, Design, Imagery, Tools & Tips
Photo credit: Jordan McQueen (Unsplash)
Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery - sometimes.
The images on your website are crucial to engaging your customers and maintaining a positive first impression. Before they find the content they are searching for, visual media evokes that initial feeling of trust — trust that they are in the right place, their questions will be answered and that your site is a legitimate source of information. If you don’t personally own the photos you are using on your site, however, you may land yourself in legal troubles. In order to safely use images owned by someone else, you must be granted permission by the copyright holder. Advanced search software now allows these rights holders to easily track down exactly where their photos are being used and, without their permission, you are at risk of being taken to court.
In order to avoid infringing on another’s copyright, there are a number of ways you can legally obtain stunning photos that properly represent your brand while staying true to the owner’s copyright and keeping your business out of trouble.
A brief history of copyright.
The concept of copyrighting began in 1710 Britain in order to protect the assets of book writers. The Statute of Anne allowed book purchasers to do whatever they wished with their own copy, except make additional copies of it. “Making a copy,” however, is a lot less straightforward than it sounds, and doing so in the age of the internet is an even tricker subject. For example, printing a copyrighted article that you did not publish in a book of short stories and linking to that same article in an online forum would be two very different actions in the eyes of copyright (1). Being found infringing a copyright, whether it be written work, music or an image, has typically lead to a cease and desist letter from the original owner.
Cease and desist letters usually contain the first steps toward civil litigation, such as a fee request or a licensing offer, and trigger actions that will quickly resolve the issue at hand. When it comes to using content that you do not possess ownership of, it is best to avoid this financial or legal risk and simply purchase a license or ask permission; the same person who sent you the takedown notice may have said yes if asked.
Tracking their images.
In the past, if you quietly took an image for your own use, there weren’t many tools in place to help enforce that copyright breach, and most often, you could get away with it. Today, if you’re using images that are not your own, and fail to agree to the owner’s license agreement, the odds of you being discovered are substantially higher due to the creation of advanced image search and tracking software. This software employ bots to scour the internet for those breaking copyright law so that the corporations who hire them can monetize on their product. The availability of this software builds a strong case for business owners to stay legal when taking images from outside sources.
Getty Images, a Seattle-based stock photo agency, has created controversy surrounding the opportunistic manner in which they pursue copyright infringement with the help of this software. Rather than send out a general cease and desist letter, they opt to instead track down users, many of whom are unaware of their fault, and threaten legal action for unpaid licensing fees. The fees average about $1,000 a photograph and target anyone from church group sites, to web developers, to small business owners.
While copyright infringement is against the law and stock photo sites, photographers and other artists are within their right to uphold that law and gain compensation for their work, Getty’s way of doing business is considered copyright extortion by many (2). Worse, they aren't the only company who embraces this practice, a fact demonstrated by the tens of thousands of letters that are sent a year (more than those sent for movie and music file sharing violations). The use of advanced software to track copyright violators is becoming increasingly common, keeping companies motivated to either pay up or take down — whatever it takes to stay within the boundaries of the law.
The dangers of a casual image search.
Back in 2010, a copywriter at Webcopyplus made the $4,000 mistake of snagging an image off of a Google image search to place in a blog. The blog was published on a client’s site and subsequently found by the image’s rightful owner. Although they complied immediately in removing the photo and issued an apology, the copyright holder still demanded a fee. To properly purchase the photo would have only cost $10 (3).
While many website owners, designers or copywriters may be tempted to Google search the image they are looking for and use the perfect photo, the risk is much higher than the quick satisfaction of saving a few bucks. The safest assumption? Everything is copyrighted unless otherwise specified.
Fair use and public domain.
There are a couple of the aforementioned specifications that allow works to be shared for free, namely when it falls under fair use or public domain. Comedy shows, such as The Daily Show or South Park, are allowed to show, and even mock, news clips, songs and characters. News sources have the power to display photo and video from a subject’s social media page without acquiring permission. Teachers exercise their right to fair use daily when they distribute photocopies of literature and worksheets from a textbook. Although he has a longstanding tradition of asking permission first, fair use is the same right that allows the Weird Al to turn any song he desires into an ode on aluminum foil or the lifestyles of the Amish. It sanctions copyrighted works to be used without cost for purposes of criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching or research and potentially protects many uses of intellectual property.
Public domain is similar in that it allows legal use of works that would otherwise be copyrighted due to expiration or forfeiture. Shakespeare, Beethoven and Newton are victims of public domain, as any works created before 1989 are usually considered to be expired or non-applicable (4). This is why you can print off an Edgar Allen Poe poem or read Treasure Island online without paying for their copyright.
There are a plethora of resources for those looking for images released under public domain, either because their copyright has expired or because their owners have deliberately released their work for anyone to use however they want. Sites such as pixabay, picjumbo and PublicDomainPictures are some providers of these sources.
If you’re not entirely certain that your usage falls under fair use or public domain, you aren’t necessarily out of luck, you are just required to gain legal access to a copyrighted piece of work by asking permission from the original owner with a description of how the material will be used — with an agreement to pay any associated fees. Sites such as EveryStockPhoto and Flickr offer some photos that are protected by a Creative Commons license that makes them free for use with the appropriate attribution — each photo includes information about how the copyright holder would like to be credited if you use their photo. There’s also the option of finding a photo source, such as ShutterStock, who will allow you to use their images for an easy monthly membership fee.
The most failsafe way of keeping yourself removed from the confines of anyone else’s licensing terms and fees is to create, or hire someone else to create, the images yourself. That way, you will own the copyright or negotiate an arrangement with your photographer for exclusive copyrights to their work.
Keep it legal.
Image agencies, photographers and other artists who work to produce quality work can and will use image tracking software to find out who is utilizing their efforts and which sources are not paying. Chances are, if you’re not a source of monetary gain to them, they won’t think twice about slapping on a hefty fee for your copyright infringement, no matter your excuse.
Work you create or directly commission is likely to be more relevant to those visiting your website than bland clipart or stock photos. Likewise, paying for professional stock photos gives you access to higher caliber material than you can typically access for free -- above all, infringing a copyright can have some serious consequences and it is well worth the time and money to be sure you’re using images legally.
Sep20151Announcements, Design, Development
JTech's web development team completed some improvements to the Northwest Regional Telehealth Resource Center’s (NRTRC) custom website that will greatly help them in their 2016 season. NRTRC is a network of experts who gather to share information and resources to develop new and improved Telehealth programs for the states of the Northwest Region. Their programs provide quality healthcare in Alaska, Idaho, Montana, Oregon, Utah, Washington and Wyoming.
We refined NRTRC’s Annual Conference section as they prepare for the 2016 season, re-working the registration process to include their current special offers, including early bird and student discounts. Their registration allows the opportunity not only for attendees to register, but also for sponsors and exhibitors to sign up as well. The session schedules page provides a detailed look at the lively, informative content offered throughout the conference, and the presentation of information on conference speakers and photo galleries of past events has been streamlined. The NRTRC site, including its annual conference registration, is designed responsively for usability and easy access from any device.