Web Design and SEO Blog

Dec201416

Junior Developer: Zachary Lowen

by Joshua Reynolds in Announcements, Development

Junior developer Zachary Lowen.
Junior developer Zachary Lowen.
Bozeman, Montana: A month and a half ago we took Zach on as an intern to work under the wing of our development team. We've found him a welcome addition — full of creativity, energy and a well-rounded technical background. Appreciating the strengths and development capacity he's added to our team, we've now invited Zach to be a full member of our team as a junior developer.

Please join us in welcoming Zach to JTech — again!
Dec201412

Choosing Website Imagery That Will Fit Your Brand

by Joshua Reynolds in Design, Imagery, Tools & Tips

Choosing unique photos for your organization's website.

Images are critical: they're a universal language that speaks directly to the intuitive, emotional half of the brain. The images you choose to represent your organization and communicate with visitors can have a greater and more immediate effect than the text they accompany, starting with the immediate decision of whether to view the rest of your website or whether to go elsewhere. The images on your website will be the first impression visitors have of your company, determining their gut-level reaction — positive, negative, trustworthy or not. Let's take a look at what goes into effective imagery.

Be sure to convey the right emotion and subject in your visual messaging.

1. Subject and emotion.
Whether you choose to use stock photography or hire a photographer, it's important that the images convey the right message and emotion. For instance: using Montana imagery for a business based in Montana, or photos of smiling people if happiness is a key component of what you want associated with your organization. If you're positioning your organization as affordable, using a larger number of smaller images signals comparisons as on supermarket shelves. For upscale websites, fewer images are used, but they tend to be positioned strongly for maximum emotional or conceptual impact.

2. Trust.
Do the images on your website give visitors a realistic expectation of what they can expect? If you're a small business, using stock photography of a large team working together is disingenuous and can lead to broken expectations further down the line. Whether or not the photos are actually photos of your business or product, it's important that they accurately convey a sense of who and what your organization is.

3. Appropriateness.
Be sure to use photos that are suitable for your target audience. If you're a non-profit marketing to families and children, photos of sultry women would create an odd dissonance — whereas a tanning salon might find bronzed women soaking up sun to be a perfect fit.

Unique photos are an important part of standing out from your competition.

4. Uniqueness.
While stock photography can be a cost-effective way to approach imagery, it's important to use assets that are sufficiently different than your competition — including simply using different stock photos. By now, you may have seen some of the "live chat support" women with smiling faces and perfectly coiffed hair so often that they've begun to feel like old friends.

5. Good content.
Investing in getting your images right isn't good enough, sadly. If the images are not accompanied by quality content optimized for your target audience, any good impression you create will soon evaporate. If you'd like help with content creation and optimization or choosing the right imagery, contact JTech. We'd be happy to help.
Dec20149

Coming Soon: Responsive Clark Film Buying

by Joshua Reynolds in Announcements, Design, Development

A mockup of the new Clark Film Buying website.

Bozeman, Montana: Our Montana web design team is in the process of rebuilding Clark Film Buying's website with a clean new aesthetic and fully responsive design. As with Clark's current website, the vast majority of the functionality is hidden behind the scenes in a secure extranet that Clark uses to manage their company's operations.

Clark Film Buying is a film buying and booking service based in Bozeman, Montana. They book for more than 160 independently-owned screens in 17 states, providing advocacy and support for their clients with film companies.

With the responsive website rebuild, the extranet is being expanded to add support for Clark's clients to login and access some of the services provided by Clark. We delight in returning to previous projects to refine their usability and add polish to the interface, and we always love working with the friendly folks at Clark Film Buying.
Dec20143

Upcoming: Gem Gallery Overhaul

by Joshua Reynolds in Announcements, Design, Development

We're very excited to be working on a major project with our longtime customers the Gem Gallery. JTech built their original website more than a decade ago and replaced it in 2008 with the site they have today. We're proud of their current site, and it's always a treat to look at something that's already great with an eye for how to take it to the next level.

Jewelry at the Gem Gallery

This time, our web development focus is on upgrading their site for a new beautiful layout and performance on mobile devices — responsive website design. The Gem Gallery's branding has evolved in the years since their website was built, so we'll be bringing the website's aesthetic into alignment as well as creating a great experience on mobile phones and tablets. Everything we like about the current site will be carried to the new site— its live-filtered storefront of gemstones and jewelry, easy checkout, gallery of custom work and detailed information about Yogo Sapphires and the Gem Gallery.

We look forward to sharing the new Gem Gallery website with you in 2015!
Nov201426

Faster, Better Development at JTech

by Joshua Reynolds in Announcements

Bozeman, Montana: We're always looking for ways to improve the advanced web development services we offer to our clients. Often this means research and development into the latest web technologies and methodologies — but it also means looking for performance enhancements in how we work together as a team and schedule work.

Two Week Development Cycles
Starting December 1st, we'll be switching over to two-week development cycles. This is part of an internal reorganization that will allow us to deliver better work more quickly. A practical result for our customers is that new work orders will be scheduled into the next production cycle after they are approved, rather than being inserted into the current development cycle.

We're very excited about the many projects, opportunities and friendships that our clients share with us, and we look forward to taking all our work to the next level. Thanks for your business and happy Thanksgiving!
Nov201418

JTech Website: Attention to Detail

by Joshua Reynolds in Content, Design

Our Montana web development team is focused on honing the experience offered by our custom websites — which means perfecting the interface's usability and expressing our attention to detail through small touches that add delight. We don't just want to help you get things done — we want it to be smooth, painless, and possibly even fun.

The News section of our website.


All the news fit to print.
With that philosophy in mind, we've made some changes to our website. In the previous iteration, we'd hidden all of our announcements and long-form publications — the Technical Blog and Business Dispatch — on our About Us page. We're emphasizing publishing and curating information for companies doing business online, and as a result we determined that the articles we've published needed their own section and a higher profile.

The News section, our most recent addition, is presented as a feed that shows complete articles — no more snippets or truncated content. To read the next article, just keep scrolling — articles will load on demand as long as you want to keep reading. We've also added distinct News channels, for those interested in a particular type of content — be it business-oriented, technical content or announcements from JTech.

Let's have fun.
Adding a new section to our website meant evaluating the balance and iconography of our site's navigation. This is where we realized that usability — easy navigation, fast page-loads, and responsive design — wasn't enough for us. We convened at the drawing board and designed unique animations for each of our icons to add fun and greater detail to the interactions. Sometimes getting the job done well isn't enough — sometimes you need to add a flourish! Our website is where we do business, and it's important that it reflect the values and priorities we hold.

jtechcommunications.com
Nov201417

The Internet in 2014: The Necessity of a Responsive Website

by Joshua Reynolds in Design, Industry News, Optimization

Mobile phones and tablets account for most internet traffic.

Responsive design in action.
Responsive design in action.
The number of people using phones and tablets to access the internet continues to grow. At JTech, we use responsive website design to craft and develop websites that look great and perform well on devices of any size. Your old website — the one that may have only been built a few years ago — is no longer adequate to accommodate the way that people are using the internet today.

In January 2014, 58% of American adults had smartphones and 42% owned tablets. (1)

Smartphones and tablets were responsible for 55% of the United States' internet traffic — compared to 45% of internet traffic from PCs. (2)

More than a third of phone internet users use their phones as their primary means for accessing the internet. (3)


This is an incredible shift in how people access information, communicate, and buy goods or services — and if your website doesn't work well or look good for people who are using mobile devices to access the internet, they will often choose to go elsewhere. Not only will a responsive website lead to more time spent on your website, higher sales (if you're offering eCommerce), and a more satisfying experience, it may also improve your search engine rankings.

Google offered the following thought regarding mobile search results:
“According to our studies, 61% of users are unlikely to return to a mobile site that they had trouble accessing from their phone. That includes sites that use fonts which are illegible on mobile, or sites where users have to zoom in or pan around excessively. Mobile is a very important area; the mobile device penetration is over 50% in the USA and most users use their device for browsing websites. Because at Google we are aiming to provide a great user experience on any device, we’re making a big push to ensure the search results we deliver reflect this principle." (4)

Already, Google penalizes search rankings (5) for sites that offer a poor mobile experience or load slowly on phones. As of October 2014, Google was experimenting with offering a "not mobile friendly" (6) icon to name and shame websites that won't offer a good experience to those searching.

These days, it is no longer a question of whether your site has mobile traffic. The question is how much it's costing you not to serve mobile visitors to your organization's website. To learn more, contact JTech about how you can make your website work on mobile devices.

Citations:
(1) Pew Research Mobile Technology Fact Sheet
(2) comScore data reported by CNN Money
(3) Pew Research, Cell Internet Use 2013
(4) Sent to Barry Schwartz of Search Engine Round Table
(5) Google Webmaster Central Blog: Changings in rankings of smartphone search results
(6) Search Engine Roundtable: Google Displaying Not Mobile Friendly Icons in Search Results
Nov201411

My JTech Early Access

by Joshua Reynolds in Announcements

Request Early Access to My JTech
Request Early Access to My JTech
Bozeman, Montana:
My JTech, our next-generation custom website content management system, is now being put through its paces in early access testing for select customers. My JTech is an integrated platform for managing websites, email, internet marketing, eCommerce, email campaigns, and more.

Custom-configured.
Our Montana web development team custom-fits My JTech to each customer’s website for an amazing experience: no pre-built templates or clumsy one-size-fits-all interface. The interface is structured around your organization’s data, with responsive design for screaming-fast performance on all modern browsers and devices.

The evolution of content management.
My JTech can do everything you’re already able to do with our Control Center — and that’s just the beginning. Even for existing functionality, we’ve taken some big leaps forward: huge improvements in speed for eCommerce management, on-demand loading of databases, and drag-and-drop file uploads (with huge speed improvements when uploading large images).

Request an invitation.
If your organization wants to be involved in the next phase of testing My JTech, send us a message.
Nov20144

Internet Marketing Intern: Kate Burgan

by Joshua Reynolds in Announcements

Marketing Intern Kate Burgan
Marketing Intern Kate Burgan
This month Kate Burgan joins JTech's Bozeman internet marketing team as a Marketing Intern. Born and raised in Seattle, she came to Bozeman to study marketing and graphic design at Montana State University — where she's also minoring in international business. Kate will be working with Mike, our Search Marketing Manager, and Diego, our veteran Marketing Intern, to develop custom website promotion plans.

Like many pilgrims to Bozeman before her, Kate is an avid student of the outdoors. Whether it's skiing or hiking or fishing or soccer, the call of the Montana wild is strong. We're excited to have Kate's enthusiasm and energy added to our internet marketing team. Welcome, Kate!
Oct201428

A Year of the JTech Technical Blog

by Joshua Reynolds in Announcements, Design, Development, Industry News

We launched the JTech Technical Blog a year ago as a channel to share our technical approach to solving online business problems using advanced web design and web development tools. If you’re interested in a detailed technical look at how our team approaches custom web design, website development and internet marketing, we've compiled a retrospective of what our team wrote:

The State of Resolution-Independence In Web Design: 2014 by Felix Wolfstrom
Human Interface Designer Felix Wolfstrom goes in depth with the design and development strategies being used to deliver beautiful, effective layouts to devices of all screen sizes and resolution densities.
Read the article

Using Async to Avoid Render-Blocking by Patrick Milvich
VP Technology Patrick Milvich describes the benefits of asynchronous JavaScript and CSS for page-loading and custom website performance, as well as its limitations and illustrative examples.
Read the article

Safely Using Async Javascript by Patrick Milvich
This followup article describes the web development solutions we've employed to avoid some of the dangers inherent to asynchronous JavaScript.
Read the article

Dark Patterns in Design by Felix Wolfstrom
Human Interface Designer Felix Wolfstrom discusses dark patterns — unethical choices in website design intended to trick the user. This article gives examples of how dark patterns have been deployed and discusses the fallout of taking advantage of your customers.
Read the article

Keyword-Rich Domains & Microsites by Mike Kostrey
Search Marketing Manager Mike Kostrey wrote about using custom microsites optimized to address very targeted niches, creating relevant answers to search queries based on geographic markers, language, or vertical product offerings.
Read the article

jtCount: An OmniGraffle AppleScript that Counts! by Tyler Miller
Project Manager Tyler Miller published an AppleScript developed by VP Technology Patrick Milvich. This script allows JTech's team to quickly develop web project budgets based on flowcharts developed in OmniGraffle, but has many other potential uses.
Read the article

Using Adobe After Effects to Design and Prototype 3D CSS Animations, Part I & II by Tyler Miller
Project Manager Tyler Miller wrote about prototyping the JTech advanced home page using Adobe's digital motions graphics software. This article goes into minute technical detail about the process of composing in After Effects and exporting the unique composition directly to CSS.
Read the article

Designing Responsively by Felix Wolfstrom
Human Interface Designer Felix Wolfstrom wrote about how his approach to design is shifting to accommodate designing responsive websites instead of fixed-frame websites. This article includes an overview of what responsive website design is and how JTech's overall approach to website projects is changing.
Read the article

If there are any topics that you’d like to hear our Montana web development team explore on the Technical Blog, get in touch with us. We look forward to hearing from you!