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AS Creative can provide banks of hours at reduced rates. These can be used as needed for one year after they’re purchased.

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6 Important Reasons To Redesign Your Website

While recently thinking about all of the compelling reasons that a client should redo their website, I came across an article in Forbes that represents our sentiments to a tee.

Here are six reasons that may help you determine the right time to invest in a redesign of your company’s website:

1. It looks outdated.

Companies go through a redesign process for different reasons, but the main one is the old-looking site. You will not believe how many companies still have websites that look like they were done decades ago. Even people with no experience in web design can tell they’re outdated. This could hurt the business, especially if users are choosing between several competitors. Consumers will most likely go with a company that has a nice-looking, easy-to-use website because it provides the assurance that the company is growing and on top of the latest trends and technologies.

2. It is not responsive and does not provide a seamless experience across all devices.

It was so easy for companies to maintain their desktop-only sites several years ago when people didn’t use their mobile devices to shop, order food, do research and connect with their friends. Nowadays, users may be looking at your site from a desktop, laptop, tablet or many variations of mobile devices. And they expect a seamless experience from all of these entry points. They want to make sure that if they saved the product in their cart on mobile, it is still there when they go to the site on their laptop. They want to be able to do the research on their phones and share the information they’ve found with friends and colleagues. And you may lose these people as customers if your site does not provide a smooth experience across all devices.

3. It has a bad user experience and is hard to navigate.

How often do you check what your competitors are doing? Once a year, once a month, daily? Unfortunately, many companies don’t pay enough attention to their competition until it’s too late. The technology is evolving and changing so fast. Someone who is on top of the latest trends and understands users’ behavior could move far ahead in the game. Always do your research and see what people in your industry are doing on their sites, check the new features they’ve implemented, see what big players are doing and implement that functionality to provide the best experience to your users and convert them into customers. When you create a new site for your company, always make sure to build it so that it can grow with your business and you can add additional features and functionalities without the need to redo the entire site.

4. It does not reflect your latest business and marketing strategy.

There have been many times when I’ve talked to people at companies and learned that their business strategy has changed or they’ve launched new products and services, but none of these things are reflected online. It’s important that your site reflects your current strategy and service offerings so you don’t lose customers to your competitors. This is especially important if you know that your potential clients go to your website before they give you a call or write you an email request. They need to see the current state of your business, and if your online presence is not reflecting that, it’s time to redesign.

5. You cannot update the content.

Good content is something that can set you apart from the competition and deliver the right message to your users. This might be done through text, videos, tutorials, how-to instructions, etc. Content marketing has become very important and can play a huge role in the success of your business. The ability to update and add new content is necessary, and you should be able to easily do this through a content management system. Also, make sure that your website is optimized for SEO, which will help with your marketing efforts.

6. Features on the site don’t work properly.

Design is not the only thing to consider when thinking about website redesign. Good development is also crucial. If you have a great-looking site that doesn’t work properly and users leave because some features are not functioning right, you will lose business. So many times I have heard people complain that their shopping cart is not working or is too complex, and it still takes the company months or even years before it’s fixed. The company may lose more money during that time than what the site upgrade might cost them.

When you are finally ready for a redesign, be prepared and allocate enough resources. This will be an exciting process that will help you and your company look deep inside your business, analyze your goals and strategies, and launch a beautiful, easy-to-navigate site that will help your business grow.

https://www.forbes.com/sites/forbescommunicationscouncil/2017/06/13/six-important-reasons-to-redesign-your-website/#4bf98d7a7853

Please contact us with any questions!

Why We Use WordPress

Why We Use WordPress

About Us: Firm Overview

AS Creative Services is a full-service Internet marketing firm, serving clients Nationwide. We leverage an integrated team of consultants, designers, writers, programmers, and marketing professionals to produce unparalleled results. AS Creative identifies the best way to advance your brand. We create visually and conceptually striking material that engages and expands your audience. AS Creatives’ website and print design work can be tailored to your existing brand or we can redefine your image altogether.

Our team includes experts in every facet of design and development. From start to finish – from stunning website design through mobile app development – AS Creative Services easily navigates even your most complex marketing initiatives providing solutions at an affordable cost.

 

WordPress: Overview

Description: WordPress was born out of a desire for an elegant, well-architectured personalpublishing system built on PHP and MySQL and licensed under the GPLv2 (or later). It is the official successor of b2/cafelog. WordPress is fresh software, but its roots and development go back to 2001. It is a mature and stable product. We hope by focusing on user experience and web standards we can create a tool different from anything else out there.

Source: https://wordpress.org/about/

 

WordPress: Security

Description: WordPress Plugin and Theme Security

The Default Theme: WordPress requires a theme to be enabled to render content visible on the frontend. The default theme whichships with core WordPress (currently “Twenty Fifteen”) has been vigorously reviewed and tested for security reasons by both the team of theme developers plus the core development team. The default theme can serve as a starting point for custom theme development, and site developers can create a child theme which includes some customization but falls back on the default theme for most functionality and security. The default theme can be easily removed by an administrator if not needed.

WordPress.org Theme and Plugin Repositories: There are approximately 50,000+ plugins and 4,500+ themes listed on the WordPress.org site. These themes and plugins are submitted for inclusion and are manually reviewed by volunteers before making them available on the repository.

Inclusion of plugins and themes in the repository is not a guarantee that they are free from security vulnerabilities. Guidelines are provided for plugin authors to consult prior to submission for inclusion in the repository17, and extensive documentation about how to do WordPress theme development18 is provided on the WordPress.org site.

Each plugin and theme has the ability to be continually developed by the plugin or theme owner, and any subsequent fixes or feature development can be uploaded to the repository and made available to users with that plugin or theme installed with a description of that change. Site administrators are notified of plugins which need to be updated via their administration dashboard.

When a plugin vulnerability is discovered by the WordPress Security Team, they contact the plugin author and work together to fix and release a secure version of the plugin. If there is a lack of response from the plugin author or if the vulnerability is severe, the plugin/theme is pulled from the public directory, and in some cases, fixed and updated directly by the Security Team.

Source: https://wordpress.org/about/security/Source

 

WordPress: Viability

Description: WordPress CMS Platform Viability

WordPress used to be described as more of a blogging platform in the past. The misconception is that it is not a viable Enterprise level product. However, over the years it has transformed into the most flexible and robust platform on the market.

WordPress: Statistics

Most popular content management systems: Since 1 May 2018

© W3Techs.com usage change since
1 March 2017
market
share
change since
1 May 2018
1. WordPress 31.0% +0.3% 59.9%
2. Joomla 3.1% 6.1%
3. Drupal 2.1% 4.0% -0.1%
4. Magento 1.1% +0.1% 2.2% +0.1%
5. Blogger 1.1% 2.2% +0.1%
percentages of sites

 

Most popular server-side programming languages: Since 1 May 2018

© W3Techs.com usage change since
1 May 2018
1. PHP 83.5% +0.1%
2. ASP.NET 13.3% -0.1%
3. Java 2.3%
4. static files 1.9%
5. ColdFusion 0.6%
percentages of sites

 

Fastest growing content management systems: Since 1 May 2018

© W3Techs.com sites
1. WordPress 748
2. WooCommerce 394
3. Squarespace 246
daily number of additional sites
in the top 10 million

 

Find more details in the server-side language surveys

WordPress: Statistics

Usage of content management systems for websites: This diagram shows the percentages of websites using various content management systems. See technologies overview for explanations on the methodologies used in the surveys. Our reports are updated daily. 

How to read the diagram: 48.1% of the websites use none of the content management systems that we monitor. WordPress is used by 31.0% of all the websites, that is a content management system market share of 59.9%.

Source: https://w3techs.com/technologies/overview/content_management/all

 

 

WordPress: Site Examples

 

Source: https://wordpress.org/showcase/

 

WordPress: Multi-Site Examples

Source: https://wordpress.org/showcase/flavor/wordpress-ms/

For more information on WordPress or if you have any questions, call us at 301-476-4128 or Contact Us below

A New Approach to Web Design

Here at AS we are constantly searching for new ways to approach web design in more effective ways. The newest approach is called Data Driven Design.

Traditionally a web design project has a very distinct approach. 1) Set a discovery/planning phase for strategy, messaging, overall site structure, & look and feel. 2) Create Wireframes 3) Create UI Designs 4) Development 5) Beta 6) QA Testing 7) Deployment

Most people are used to this approach and thus it’s challenging to think about a different way of doing things. Data Driven Design is a much more agile approach that has 3 main tenants

The First tenant is Strategy. You can’t avoid a discussion surrounding this newer approach. You can’t avoid planning and you can’t avoid talking about your goals. This is just a sound way to create a roadmap for a website project. That being said you should not consider your plans set in stone.

The Second tenant is building a scaled back website. Your focus for a new website should be creating a site that looks better than the one you currently have. Obviously there will be very specific needs, but it’s a good rule of thumb to understand there will be time to change following once the website is live.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Third and final tenant is Test and Iterate. Now that you have deployed this new site, you can begin adding, deleting, and changing the site over time. This should all be guided by analytics, and user feedback. Your website is now a living breathing tool to promote your business.

 

So what’s the catch? Truthfully there is no catch. This new approach will just require the vision to rely upon an innovative approach to the redesign process. Instead of applying your budget to a one and done website project, you will have to split your budget between a scaled back website and a period of testing and changes following deployment.

So what’s the benefit? The benefit is, you will have a new website up in half the amount of time and then you’ll have the ability to change your website after it’s deployed and feedback is given. You will have the ability to understand the importance of certain parts of your website and and the lack thereof in others. Finally, you will be able to continue to create the perfect website over time rather than crossing your fingers to hope your best planning has created the website that satisfies all your users needs.

This concept makes a ton of sense, but we understand that it may be a hard pill to swallow and may not work for everyone. We hope this post creates some conversation surrounding this approach and we are happy to discuss at any time.

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GDPR | What you may want to know

 

You may have been noticing a slew of privacy notifications on your favorite software and social media platforms. This is timely as of the recent testimony by Mark Zuckerberg on Capitol Hill. The buzzword of the month is Privacy. You may also be noticing quite a bit of conversation regarding new regulations in the EU that affects how data is collected on the web. While this conversation is fairly new, it is becoming one that will need to be addressed. While we are by no means experts in this yet, AS recognizes the need to quickly learn about how to address some of the questions and help clients stay appropriately informed and help provide corrective measures where necessary. Here is a very high level overview of some items concerning GDPR.

 

 

What is GDPR? (General Data Protection Regulation) is a new law in the EU that will be enacted in May 2018

 

  • This law is being enacted as a way to allow citizens of the EU more control over their privacy and data on the web
  • If you are a company or organization that has an international website reach and/or users, this will apply to you.
  • In order to enforce this, Supervisory Authorities will be working to ensure compliance. Fines can be steep if corrective measures are not taken.
  • Many Large US Companies are already investing in how to better comply in this space.

 

Some main things to consider on your website:

  1. Types of Plugins being Used
  2. Security
  3. Collecting Data
  4. Notification of Breaches

 

While this regulation is being enacted into law in the EU currently, we wholly expect the US to follow suit in the future.

Please connect with us if you’d like to discuss.

 

AMS/CRM Offering CMS? Watch out for the Golden Handcuffs!

Is your AMS or CRM company offering to provide you a fully integrated CMS as part of the package once you sign up with them? In theory this sounds great, but please don’t fall for the Golden Handcuffs!

Web Design and Development is not their main speciality; their software is. It’s advantageous to have organizations on the software companies CMS because it makes it that much harder to leave the software company because all their eggs are in one basket.

How many times has your boss/board come to you with a new web initiative which has required you to search for outside partners to help execute? You should be able to build functionality into your website with relative ease. Most software CMS systems have very strict parameters and don’t allow much customization. Thus organizations can’t easily reach their goals without creating a web of outside vendors.

If it sounds too good to be true, it likely is. If you’re a shoemaker, stick to making shoes. If you’re a software company, don’t get into the website business! Truly innovative software companies are recognizing the need for interconnectivity and are working at better integration with WordPress and other open source CMS systems. Don’t get trapped in the Golden Handcuffs! Keep software separate from your CMS, but focus on seamless integration.

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A Word About Content

When doing a redesign, some organizations choose to simply pull their existing copy over from their old website into the new one. They may change some of their historical data, but overall they are more concerned with the look and feel and/or they feel they don’t have the internal resources to make wholesale changes to their content. Here are some concepts that might be helpful while doing due diligence in regards to a content strategy and also the burden on both your time and finances.

Content Migration: Any firm worth their weight in salt should include migration of your content as part of the project. Don’t think you are saving $$ by offering to do this on your own. The internal pull on your resources will cost more in the long run. What takes you 10 min, will take a web firm 1 min.

Content Curation: A more strategic firm should be able to help guide your existing content in a more intuitive way. You know your organization better than most and your content likely reflects that. Intuitively appropriating where that content should live or not live on your site is the main proposal in content curation. This seems to be a popular direction, as it addresses a more strategic need, while not costing an arm and a leg.

Content Creation: Brace yourself!! This is not cheap, nor should it be an expectation in a redesign. However, if it is, look at it as an additional line item. This requires a much deeper dive and should be autonomous to a certain extent. Website goals, audience, & site traffic should be the guide. Effective content creation, should be done in tandem with curation, but in some cases requires two different mindsets as one is more reliant on design.

There are strong cases for all three of these approaches, and ultimately your organizations needs will dictate the direction. Better to start with less and make changes over time. Content Management Systems are built for this. Test and Iterate! Test and Iterate! Test and Iterate!

 

If you have any questions, please reach out to us!

 

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The Democratization of the Internet, Virality for Good, and Duke Lacrosse

The Democratization of the Internet, Virality for Good, and Duke Lacrosse

Several months back, my wife and I watched the 30 for 30 ESPN Documentary “Fantastic Lies” about the Duke Lacrosse story. We really didn’t know much about the story, however we associated Duke Lacrosse with a rape case involving Duke Lacrosse players. Upon watching this documentary I was stunned by how much damage had been created by the media surrounding this case. The irreparable damage had been done, and I was a victim of contempt prior to investigation. I thought poorly about those student athletes without understanding the facts. The facts of this case were grossly misled by then District Attorney, Mike Nifong in an attempt for him to gain politically. Media grabbed onto a false story and ran with it. The implications of this bad information led to campus outrage and awful press towards Duke and its Men’s Lacrosse team, singling out a handful of players.

If you were paying attention to only the headlines like I was, Duke students were guilty! However, when the dust settled, Nifong was forced to resign and ultimately disbarred and jailed for his misconduct and the students were all exonerated. Media did a poor job at correcting the bad information, and have likely put a bad taste in the mouth of many people concerning Duke Lacrosse to this day. The Democratization of Press is guaranteed under the constitution. The responsibility of the Press, should be to recognize its mistakes and mend them rather than sweeping them under the rug. They will never be able to fully right the Duke Lacrosse story.

The Internet is ever-growing. In 2006 it seemed more finite. Today, it’s hard to even comprehend its expanse. Our mobile generation has created trending virality and news can be generated so quickly, it’s hard to keep up with everything. A lot of the news is still sensationalized and can reach people very quickly. People can write about anything and just like printed press, a lot of bad information gets put on the internet. I look at the virality of information today, and how quickly information can get out. I wonder how the Duke case would have looked if Twitter and Facebook had been more prevalent during this case. Would we have received more information regarding the problematic parts of this case rather than just the sensational headlines? Would we have received the truth?

The internet affords the same constitutional guarantees or free speech and press, and the virality allows for a reach that is far beyond TV or printed media. So much of today’s media is divisive and depressing. I think the focus should be to use the virality of the internet and the ability to speak our minds to correct misleading bad information. Doing good should be the focus. Don’t let people live in ignorance, based on bad information.