Today we’d like to demonstrate how to build an interactive HTML5 banner ad.
This was a project we did for Carlsberg a while back, which we think can be useful for designers and programmers interested in front-end design work.
Carlsberg is a multi-billion dollar, global beer brand that employs over 40,000 people around the world. Besides the household Carlsberg brand, they also house other brands such as Tuborg, Somersby (cider), Kronenbourg, and Dali Beer (a fast growing brand in Asia).
What Is An Interactive Ad?
Let’s do a quick recap. In the old days, we had text ads, which are basically a short text blurb with a link to the advertiser’s page, product or service.
Next came static banner ads. These are typically static images. They’re more compelling that text ads, because images are worth a thousand words. The main formats come in a 300×250 pixels (box), 728×90 (wide) or 90×728 (skyscraper).
Then, Flash technology game along on the desktop browser. Flash was revolutionary, because it enabled a wave of animated banner ads, as well as interactive ones. Animated ads captivate user attention resulting in higher click through rates (CTR). Players could even play a micro-game such shooting something, or throwing a ball into the hoop.
In 2010, Apple convinced the world of the virtues of switching to HTML5, and with giants including Google following suit, Flash technology quickly declined.
Ad technology companies see the huge growth potential in mobile, and hence started implementing HTML5 into a new, cross-platform ad unit. This unit is called the HTML5 interactive ad, supported by new industry standards such as MRAID, MRAID2, and such.
Long story short, an interactive HTML5 ad, is an ad that now works on smartphones, tablets and desktop browsers.
So What’s This Carlsberg Ad About?
Here’s a link to video, showing the interactive ad running on an iPhone:
The goal of this interactive ad is to drive awareness of the World Rugby Sevens Tournament, an annual rugby event that happens in Hong Kong. The best of the best teams from all around the world compete annually to win the top prize. Carlsberg is one of the main sponsors.
The ad experience is simple. Users see a glowing Carlsberg beer bottle. A message is asking the user to tap on the glowing bottle.
Upon tapping on it, a short animation plays of a rugby player carrying a cold, iced bucket of Carlsberg beers.
A fun brand slogan appears: “Are you beer ready”?
Users can then tap on the ‘Find us on Facebook’ link to visit the advertiser’s page for more information.
Back To Our Regular Programming
An interactive HTML5 ad consists of 5 main elements:
index.html (main entry point)
main.css (the CSS stylesheet)
assets (visual assets)
the outbound link (where the ad should take users to)
Let’s start building the ad…
Part 1: index.html
The index.html consists of standard HTML declarations.
Several times a month I get emails and phone calls from real estate agents about websites. Most agents are looking for some advice and direction on what do about their own websites. In many cases they don’t have one but are looking to get one started.
Some of the questions I get are…
What are the best real estate agent websites to use?
Do I even need my own website?
How much do websites cost?
If I get a real estate website, how do I get leads from it?
What is the IDX?
Do I need to have the IDX on my real estate website?
Should I use my broker supplied generic website?
These are all good questions.
However, before you get into costs, features, and designs you should be asking yourself one single question first.
What do you want the website to do for you?
You should first establish a set of objectives for what you want the website to do for you and your business.
Just putting up a website alone will not bring in more business. Plus, not all real estate websites are created equal. They are all very different in terms of what they can and cannot do for you.
Once you establish your objectives for the website you can then start looking at all of the options you have available to you. Unfortunately, there is no single perfect answer for what is the “Best Real Estate Agent Website” out there for agents to get.
This is exactly why it’s important to establish your objectives first.
My Own Opinion About Real Estate Agent Websites
I do believe every agent should have a website. It’s 2016!
It’s never been cheaper and easier to have a website for your business. Furthermore, there are a lot of website solutions available for agents to have one at an affordable cost.
Your website is just has important as your cell phone number and your email address. You simply cannot do business with them. Clients and prospects need to see some type of an online presence about you and your business.
It’s like during the days of the Yellow Pages before the internet. If you weren’t in the “Yellow Book”, then you were nothing. Just like what Steve Martin said in the movie clip.
A real estate agent website should be one piece of the whole marketing plan puzzle you have for your business.
Here’s a copy of the Marketing Plan I use to train real estate agents all over the country. You can see the real estate website is under Stage 2, which is, in an advanced level of marketing. Before you get to putting together a real estate website, you should have all of your basic marketing squared away first.
The Real Estate Agent Marketing Plan
So do you need a website? No. You can still run an effective real estate business without one, but I would highly encourage you to plan on getting one in the future.
If you really want to take your business to the next level online and have a presence there, you’ll simply need to have a website or a plan for getting one.
What a Real Estate Agent Website Should Be
Your real estate agent website should be the focal point of all your online marketing. Traffic is redirected there from Social Media and real estate search websites like Zillow & Trulia.
At a minimum, I believe your website should meet the following are objectives….
1. It Should Be a Source of Valuable Information
Your website should be source of information for your Buyers & Sellers. It should provide information in the form of ebooks, videos, blog articles, and/or audio, which answers questions.
Think of the most commonly asked questions you get from them. You’re a walking, talking, living book of real estate information, so share that knowledge online at your website.
2. It Should Be a Portfolio of Your Previous & Current Listings
This is the place where your sales record of listings should be. You should be using professional real estate photography and virtual tours for all of your listings.
There is no better way to show off your brand as a professional real estate agent than showing off how you “market” your client’s homes. Each listing should have it’s own page on your website. This page should be directly linked to the active listing both Zillow & Trulia thru virtual tour and external links. These linkbacks are also phenomenal for the SEO benefits to your website. Bringing in traffic from Zillow & Trulia should be a major goal of each one of your Active Listings.
3. It Should Tell Your Story
Your real estate website should show clients and potential clients who you are. It is the place to bring your own personal branding to play.
Don’t be like every other agent out there. Be Yourself. Be You. This is what they want to see.
Here are two great resources you should check out when creating your “About Me” pages and Bios: Sally Hogsheadand Mellissa Cassera.
Sally Hogshead and Fascination
First, you should check out Sally Hogshead and take her Fascination Advantage Test. This will change the way you look at your personal branding. She is all about taking an assessment on your personality traits and then applying those traits into your business and using that has a differentiator in your marketing.
In this video you can see her TEDx talk on this subject. It’s pretty awesome.
Melissa Casserara’s “My Story” Page
Second, if you want a great example of an “About Me” webpage then you have to check out Melissa Cassera’s website. Her “About Me” (called My Story) page rocks and I pretty much used it as a template to redo my own “About Me” page on this website.
Click Here to see her “About” page on her website.
What You Should Do Now
Figure out what your websites objectives are going to be first. Next, make sure you have complete all of your basic level marketing before you spend time and money (your resources) on a real estate website.
Once you’ve completed this you’ll need to begin to explore all of the options agents currently have available to them, and there are a lot of them.
I’m going to leave you with some additional information which should help you in answering some of the other questions you’re most likely going to have about real estate websites.
What are the Best Real Estate Agent Websites to Use?
There is no single best answer for this question. So I’ll give you the list of what’s available out there.
In my opinion WordPress is the best. I love WordPress. I believe it’s the single best solution not only for Real Estate Agents, but all entrepreneurs. However, that’s just my own personal opinion. There are some other really good alternatives out there.
Real Estate Website Choices
There are several companies which supply agents with basic template websites. Some of these site offers features like IDX and CRM functionality. I’m personally not a big fan of these but for certain agents this is all you need.
You can also go the WordPress route with an agent website. In this case you’re taking on a more advanced level of marketing because you’re going to be pouring in more resources to get it started and maintained.
Which ever platform you decide to use you will still have to ask yourself the first question: What is the Objective/Goals for having your own website?
Here is a breakdown of some of the most popular agent website choices you have available to you today.
A. Z57, Point2, and Market Leader:
These are usually the top choices for the basic template websites available for agents. I’m not a big fan of these sites and wouldn’t expect that you’ll get very much out of them in terms of lead generation.
Each of them have some level of CRM functionality Listings Syndication services. The customization features of these templates are usually pretty limited.
In my experience, agents that get a website from one of these companies usually don’t keep them over the long term and eventually search out for a better long term solution.
However, this doesn’t make them bad alternatives. It comes down to what you NEED and WANT to get out of your agent website.
B. Agent Websites from Zillow:
I don’t hate or love Zillow. They simply are the most viewed real estate website in the world. However, their website solutions for real estate agents are very “Not Good”.
Zillow offers Premier Agents a WordPress site, but it comes with very limited functionality. They are also very weak in design and look very generic. In my personal opinion, I highly recommend NOT to use these for your business merely because of the lack of Functionality and Design.
I still think Zillow is a very important tool and website to use for your overall marketing plan and you should be engaged on this website. Before you pour time and effort into setting up and using one of their websites, think about it clearly first.
C. Placester, SquareSpace, and Wix:
If you want to step it up a little then I like these alternatives better. They have more functionality and better design. You can call these a “happy medium” for all of the website alternatives out there.
If you’re going to use Wix or SqaureSpace you don’t actually need to use a “real estate template”. You can go with another design. You’ll just have to be more creative about it. It’s not necessary for you to have a “real estate themed” template, or the IDX on a real estate agent website. Go with a design that fits your brand and style instead.
Placester has some of the most attractive real estate website designs out there. They have 4 different packages with different levels of CRM capabilities to them. This is where it starts to get costly, especially if you don’t intend on using their CRM services.
I’m not a big fan of using your website for also being a CRM, but it comes down to what works best for you and what your goals are.
D. WordPress for Real Estate:
I’m totally biased here, but it’s how I feel and look at real estate websites. I just think WordPress is the best solution in the LONG TERM for any real estate agent.
However, WordPress is not perfect. WordPress, takes some work to set up and some more work to develop the content you’re going to put into it. There’s also maintenance costs which carry over into the future.
WordPress is FREE software but you will incur other costs for keeping your WordPress site up and running. These include: Hosting, Backups, Security, and Theme Purchases. The good news is you can run a WordPress website for under $100 per month depending on which companies you are using for these other services to run your WordPress website.
I will have some more info about putting together your own WordPress real estate website coming soon.
If you’re just becoming a real estate agent, you may have a leg up on those who started their careers years ago because you work in an age where anyone can access listing information within seconds — all it takes is a few keystrokes and clicks. How is this possible? In short, through the policies and software jointly called Internet Data Exchange (IDX).
IDX is an umbrella term used to cover policies, standards, and software pertaining to the display of listing information on websites. Most importantly for agents and brokers, IDX is what enables members of a multiple listing service (MLS) to integrate real estate listings from the MLS database into their own websites.
But why exactly was IDX created? How does it help you become a successful real estate agent? What does it cost to integrate IDX listings on your website? We detail everything agents need to know about IDX below, including its origins, evolution, and features, as well as how beginner real estate agents can get it set up on their sites.
A Brief History of IDX: Then and Now
IDX originated in the early 2000s, when the internet was in its relative infancy and real estate agents and brokers realized they could effectively promote their listings online. Around the same time, MLSs needed a way for their members to have online access to their listings so that each agent could have more opportunities to promote listings, attract leads, and close deals. There were similar listing-sharing means for MLSs and agents previously, but at a costly price. As a result, only few agents and brokers — those with large pocketbooks — could afford to integrate MLS listings onto their websites.
Over time, though, standards for listing data and advances in web technology lowered costs, not only for agents, but also for the MLSs and software developers that serve the real estate market. In just a few years, the cost to create and maintain a real estate website went from thousands (sometimes tens of thousands) of dollars to just a few dollars each month. Today, it’s much simpler for agents to show off listings on their sites using IDX, and also for their audience to find homes for sale that fit their needs via search and filter functions.
The Rules and Regulations for Using IDX
There have been countless rules and regulations tied to IDX over the years, many of which have been influenced by the National Association of Realtors (NAR). (A comprehensive list of NAR’s stipulations for IDX usage can be found here.) The main thing to know about IDX is you need to consult your MLS to understand their particular policies (which vary by each MLS) pertaining to use of their data on your real estate website via IDX. There are several ways you can get in trouble with your MLS should you misuse IDX data. Examples of some prohibited uses include:
Posting a seller’s listing when the seller has indicated to their agent they do not wish to have their home listed in IDX
Failing to update IDX listings on your website
Providing IDX listings and their information to outside parties not participating in the IDX exchange
Altering the information included in IDX listings (e.g. property dimensions and features) to make them more appealing to your audience
Showing listings on a website that aren’t approved for display by the MLS or listing broker
Achieving success in real estate isn’t solely defined by generating leads and closing deals — it’s also about following the rules, so research the guidelines and rules associated with IDX before you integrate listings on your website.
What IDX Can Do for Your Business
Despite some stringent rules regarding IDX, it certainly offers many advantages for agents. It’s actually a win-win for everyone who uses it: real estate professionals and consumers. Agents and brokers can share the most pertinent, appealing listings in their markets on their websites to attractive prospective buyers. Buyers get the lowdown on the most recent listings to hit the market and confidence that the information is correct.
Today, consumers expect to see property listings on agents’ real estate websites, so agents who don’t incorporate listings into their website via IDX end up at a disadvantage when compared to agents who do display listings.
The search engine optimization (SEO) world has undergone some big changes in the last few years—the biggest being coming in the form of Google’s heightened push towards strong user experiences. It’s hard to imagine that just 10 years ago, SEO was a discipline governed by blackhat marketers whose sole objective was to increase rankings and drive traffic. Long story short—it wasn’t pretty, and Google didn’t like it.
Today, the ‘secret’ to SEO is no secret at all. It’s common sense. Brands that rank high on search engines have great content, address their target audience’s search intent, and take the time to optimize their sites from a technology standpoint. Here are 9 SEO ‘secrets’ that will lead your brand to awesome.
1 – Stop overthinking it
The biggest challenge with SEO is that it’s ambiguous territory—but you shouldn’t let the uncertainty get the best of you. Understand that almost every marketer is exactly where you are now. Everyone’s trying to figure out SEO’s ‘hidden secrets’ with little direction. The best thing to do is to keep your mind off the complexities and instead, focus on delivering the best possible user experience.
2 – Keep content fresh
When people conduct research, they want up-to-date, accurate information. That’s why it’s important to keep content updated. Recency is becoming an increasingly important ranking factor in Google’s search algorithm and for good reason—your audiences don’t want to waste time reading dated content.
3 – Prioritize usability
Technology is an important part of the user experience equation. In addition to providing audiences with helpful and informative content, you’ll want to make sure that your website is easy and enjoyable to browse. Make sure to optimize your website to be mobile friendly and to ensure that it has a quick load time.
Just recently, Google announced that more than half of its US searches are now coming from mobile devices. This stat, coupled with the recent ‘Mobilegeddon’ algorithm update provide strong signals that even greater emphasis is going to be placed on businesses mobile websites in the coming years.
You can use WebSite Auditor to identify potential technical flaws and to crawl your site on a consistent basis.
4 – Build relationships, not links
“Link building” is a term that SEO practitioners use to describe the process of building credibility. The idea is simple: people link to your website when they perceive your brand as a source of authority. Often, however, SEO specialists take the expression ‘link building’ too literally. By asking for links, they end up with the extreme opposite—absolutely nothing.
Links are the key to ranking well in Google, but what marketers often forget is that links are built upon relationships with people. The best way to ‘build links’ is to forge connections and offer value to bloggers and other influencers in your niche.
Try using SEO SpyGlass to see who’s linking to your website—and to identify potential patterns.
5 – Prioritize the long-tail
Search engine experiences are becoming increasingly personalized. That’s why it’s important for businesses to focus on long-tail and location-based keywords—so that audiences can find your company based on the exact value and service that you provide.
Ranking highly for a vague search term like ‘San Francisco Doctor’ might be an ego booster, but it puts you in direct competition with all the doctors in San Francisco, regardless of their practice area. A top rank for a more specific term, such as ‘San Francisco orthopedic surgeon’ will generate a lot more qualified leads.
6 – Use the right keywords in the right places
Get specific by taking a structured approach. It’s not enough to focus on the right keyword—you need to make sure that you’re communicating the ‘right’ information to Google in a structured way.
In order to improve rankings for long-tail keywords, make sure that they’re present in your main body copy and page titles. If your website structure doesn’t allow for this, attach a blog or news feed to your site and create content around these topics, with the long-tail keywords in the titles and copy.
A good place to start would be Rank Tracker, which can ensure your content is fully optimized for specific keywords.
7 – Replace keyword research with customer research
People turn to search engines when they have questions. When they’ve arrived at your website, they’re likely looking for immediate answers.
Think of your brand as a publisher and source of high-quality information. When you produce helpful, informative content like blog posts, how-to articles, and research, you’ll get in front of searchers and earn their trust.
8 – Don’t ignore the small details
Often, marketers will focus on optimizing elements that are direct SEO ranking factors. In doing so, however, they’ll overlook a very important detail—meta descriptions.
Your meta descriptions, for instance, provide previews of your website. It’s your brand’s chance to stand apart from competitors on search engine results pages and encourage click-throughs to your website. A well-developed meta description, in a few short lines of text, will drive more traffic to your website.
9 – Be a go-to resource by creating a dictionary
One of the most efficient ways to rank for a term is to create a ‘dictionary’ page with objective and thorough definitions. Rather than ‘keyword stuffing,’ however, it’s important that marketers take the time to create content that helps their target audiences learn.
These pages often rank highly in search engines all on their own, as they are naturally somewhat keyword dense and are usually very helpful to people who searched for those terms. They tend to position brands as authoritative sources of information and generate backlinks.
One of the hardest things about launching a new website is choosing the designer. With so many design companies out there, it can be a monumental task just trying to figure out which one is right for you.
This is certainly not a decision you want to take lightly. After all, your website is going to be the online face of your business. It will be the first point of contact for many of your potential customers. Your website will be a driving factor behind whether or not people choose to do business with you.
That’s why it’s so essential to choose a design company that will actually help you reach your target audience—and your business goals. So how exactly are you supposed to choose? Here are twelve things to look for when selecting your design company:
THEY LISTEN TO YOUR IDEAS
You’re an expert in your industry. As such, you know what you’re selling, and you have some idea of how you need to present it to your potential customers. No one knows your business better than you do. If a web design company won’t listen to your ideas, then you probably don’t want to work with them. Your designer needs to be able to put your ideas into action, not create their own pet project.
THEY HAVE THEIR OWN IDEAS
While it’s important for your web designer to listen to you, you don’t want a yes-man. You may know your business, but your website needs to be designed by someone who knows design. If a web design agency does nothing but nod their heads and produce an exact replica of what you say, then you aren’t getting your money’s worth. Your designer must be able to bring exciting ideas to the table.
THEY HAVE A MARKETING DEPARTMENT
A web design agency without a marketing team is like a Ferrari without an engine. Yeah, it may look great, but it’s not going to go anywhere. You want more than an eye-catching website. You need something that actually works. When a web agency has designers, developers, and marketers, you can be confident that the finished product will be more than just a pretty paperweight.
THEY DESIGN WITH CMS IN MIND
You need a content management system for your website. Without it, you’ll be calling a developer every other day with another request to update your site. Any web design agency worth anything at all is familiar with the best content management systems (WordPress, Drupal, Magento). If your designer recommends a static HTML website, then you need to find a time machine so you can get back to this decade.
THEY KNOW RESPONSIVE DESIGN
Responsive design is not a fad. It’s simply the best way to design a website these days. Even Google thinks so. If a web design agency isn’t well-versed in responsive design or suggests a separate mobile website is always better, then they’re probably not right for you. While there are some cases where a separate mobile site might have some advantages, responsive design is generally the preferred solution. As mobile and tablet usage continue to grow, you need to be sure your business is optimized for every device. The right designer will get you there.
THEY HAVE A PORTFOLIO OF LIVE WEBSITES
What’s the best way to see if a web design company knows their stuff? Look at the work they’ve done. But don’t trust screenshots of home pages. You want to see the websites they’ve made in action. Take the time to look through their portfolio and actually visit the sites they’ve designed. If you don’t see anything you like, then they’re not going to be a good fit.
THEY HAVE LONGEVITY
The web may change very fast these days, but that doesn’t mean you should trust some fly-by-night web design company that probably won’t be around in a year. Every year there are tons of new design companies that pop up—and just as many that close down. A true test of a web design agency’s ability is their longevity. You want a company that’s been around for a while—and one that plans to stick around. The more experience a design company has, the more they’ve had to change and adapt with the many new trends of the internet. And the more likely they’ll be around next year to help support your new website.
THEIR DESIGNERS KNOW CONVERSION
A designer has to know more than how to make something look nice. A good web design agency includes a team of designers who know what makes websites convert. That means they know proper layout, navigation, and calls to action. An “if-it-looks-good-they’ll-convert” philosophy doesn’t cut it these days. Your designer needs to use data and proven methods when creating your site.
THEY HAVE EXPERIENCE IN MORE THAN ONE INDUSTRY
You might think it would be great if your web design company only worked with one industry. After all, if they only do websites for cat leashes, then they must really know cat leashes, right? Perhaps, but it also means you’re probably going to end up with a cookie-cutter website that’s indistinguishable from the other seventy-five cat leash websites they did this year. A web design company that works with a wide variety of industries is more likely to create a unique website that will reach a bigger audience. Your website has to stand above the competition, not be identical.
THEY’VE WORKED AT BOTH THE LOCAL AND NATIONAL LEVELS
Whether you’re a national brand or a local business, you need a web design agency that knows both. If your designer has only worked with local businesses, then there’s a good chance your new website won’t be designed for big success. The more audiences your designer knows, the better odds your website will be able to help you reach your business goals. You need a designer who can think both big and small.
THEY KEEP UP WITH MODERN DESIGN TRENDS
The last thing you want from a new website is a design that looks like it would’ve been popular last decade. A web designer needs to keep up with the latest technology and modern design trends. Customers are much more likely to trust a business if their website looks modern. Good design companies incorporate what’s hot in their websites. A web designer needs to be familiar with parallax scrolling, flat design, responsive, and dozens of other styles and elements. Of course, that doesn’t mean they should just push all the newest fads. There needs to be a balance between what’s modern and what’s proven. A website has to do more than just look fresh.
THEY’RE NOT DIRT CHEAP
Your website is one of the most vital pieces of your business. This is not an area where you can afford to cut corners. When a web design company tells you they’ll build a custom website for $2000, they really mean they’ll drag and drop your text and logo into a $99 WordPress theme that 12,000 other websites use. If you want a website that’s going to work for your business, you have to be willing to invest in it. A great website will yield a high return on investment. A bad website will result in a stagnant business.
Finding the right web design agency is not the easiest job you have as a business owner. But once you find the right designer, your job becomes a whole lot easier.
Design is the process of collecting ideas and these ideas implementing them. We also involve website layout, website structure, user interface, navigation, colors, font, image gallery, button styles etc.
Here we discussing the all web design layout because you are a professional web designer first of all you understand the terms and tools of designing.
Types of Layouts:
Static Page Layout:
Static Websites layout to give the fixed width to present sites and not changes the width on browser, or we can say you can’t update the content in static website. It has the advantage of this static layout is light on code so loads faster than another website. We design the layout static websites from 1 page to hundreds of pages. If you can seen on small pc and horizontal part is small then scroll bar display and you can seen in mobile or tablet you can zoom the screen in interesting points. cost is generally less than dynamic.
Dynamic Website Layout:
Fixed design Layout:
A fixed website design layout has a covering that is a fixed width, and the components parts inside it have each percentage widths or fixed widths. When the browser on a screen is distended or reduced, images and text may visually fall not together on the screen. Most website users are assumed to browse in 1024×768 resolution or higher in fixed design layout.
Responsive design Layout:
This approach aims to make website presentation easier by displaying websites on different devices in forms that are easy to read and navigate. Explore what makes a site responsive and how some common responsive design patterns work across different devices. Websites created using responsive design are designed to display different content as the browser is expanded or reduced to predetermined sizes.
Liquid or Fluid design Layout:
When resizing the browser, the content on the page spreads itself out to fill the width of the browser when expanded, hence the term liquid design, and will look enlarged or as though it has shrunk. It helps a great deal in making the entire website work fine on different browsers and also Setting up multiple widths to videos, content, images to fit different screen resolutions is hectic for designers.
Single page design Layout:
One-page websites are hot and popular-no doubt about that. He best single pages are those that help you convey your message into few quick scrolls. They are well designed and compatible with most Internet browsers. One page sites provide a linear journey for the user and work particularly well for devices where scrolling is the main form of navigation.
SSL Certified? As a man who works 24/7 within a web based industry I have come across many customers who ask “Why do I need SSL? What will it do for me?” This is an important question for anyone involved in the web to understand. SSL is the backbone of our secure Internet and it protects your sensitive information as it travels. It keeps the haters and criminals at bay and provides many direct benefits to you and especially your customers.
What is SSL?
SSL stands for “secure sockets layer” and is a form of security for sites that handle sensitive information such as customer names, phone numbers, addresses and credit card numbers. It creates a secure connection between a customer’s web browser and the server of the company they’re interacting with. SSL is essential for any site that sells goods or services as it ensures that all information handled stays private and secure.
What Are the Benefits of SSL?
The major purpose of an SSL certificate is to encrypt information so that it can only be read and understood by the intended parties. Information submitted on Internet forms often passes through more than one computer before reaching its final destination, and the more “stops” it has to make, the higher the chance that a third party could obtain access. An SSL certificate inserts random characters into the original information, rendering it incomprehensible to anyone without the proper encryption key. If the information does somehow wind up in the wrong hands, it will be unreadable and therefore useless.
Customers visiting your site will know that you have encryption in place in several ways. The most recognizable is the replacement of the “http” protocol with “https“. This shows that a page is secure and is backed up by another visual cue: a lock image somewhere in the browser’s status or location bar. Today’s savvy online shoppers know to look for these things before making any online purchases, and trust me, the stats show you that not having it can be dire.
We’ll take Google.ca as an example of SSL certified site. Here are the extra information you can have on a site that owns an SSL certificate:
You can also see the details of the SSL certificate:
You want to be sure that the information on your website, including customer information, goes to the correct server without being intercepted. When obtaining an SSL certificate, another type of protection called a server certificate is also issued. This certificate acts as a mediator between browsers and SSL servers to show that the SSL certificate provider can be trusted. Customers can view these documents to validate that the SSL certificate of your site is up to date and that the page they’re about to enter information on is really yours and not an imitation.
Necessary for Accepting Payments
In order to meet Payment Card Industry compliance, an online business needs an SSL certificate with the proper encryption of at least 128-bit. PCI standards verify that the SSL certificate is from a trusted source, uses the right strength of encryption and provides a private connection on any page that requires customers to enter personal information. Without a certificate that meets these standards, a site won’t be able to take credit card payments.
Guards Against Phishing
Phishing emails often contain links that lead unsuspecting customers to a convincing replica of an otherwise reputable site. Often disguised as advertisements or shipping confirmations, these emails attempt to gather credit card information for malicious use. However, the people who build these fake sites will have a hard time obtaining an authentic SSL certificate. When customers don’t see the signs of security on a site, they’re more likely to navigate away without entering any information.
Offers Added Brand Power
Companies that provide SSL certificates often offer site seals and other images that indicate well-trusted encryption is in use. Displaying these branded icons gives customers an added level of assurance that their information is safe as it travels.
Business Future Proofing
With threats mounting, companies are being prompted to adopt more advanced security measures. In this way, EV SSL represents a step that will be widely deployed in order to meet the bigger risks that come with e-commerce today. For companies that implement EV SSL now, they’ll be taking an important step toward future-proofing.
Entrust Datacard is an industry leader in EV SSL certificates. Our offerings can help your organization pave the road to a better and more secure online presence. This kind of security is something online patrons absolutely deserve — and increasingly, they’re coming to expect it.
Improves Customer Trust
All of these elements work together to create trust between a customer and a business. Providing your customers with security for all of their information and giving them ways to verify that security improves confidence and helps to ensure a positive buying experience.
Given the benefits, going through the authorization process necessary to obtain a trusted SSL certificate is worth the effort. Attempting to operate without one deters customers and makes it difficult or impossible to take payments. Online shoppers want to know that their sensitive personal information is safe as it goes through cyberspace, and investing in SSL security is the best way to give them that peace of mind.
Disadvantages of SSL
With so many advantages, why would anyone not use SSL? Are there any disadvantages to using SSL certificates? Cost is an obvious disadvantage. SSL providers need to set up a trusted infrastructure and validate your identity so there is a cost involved.
Because some providers are so well known, their prices can be overwhelmingly high. We do set up all our clients with a preferred webhost HawkHost who provides SSL free and our average client pays $50 a year for hosting.
Performance is another disadvantage to SSL. Because the information that you send has to be encrypted by the server, it takes more server resources than if the information weren’t encrypted. The performance difference is only noticeable for web sites with very large numbers of visitors and can be minimized with special hardware.
Overall, the disadvantages of using SSL are few and the advantages far outweigh them. It is critical that you properly use SSL on all websites that require sending sensitive information. Proper use of SSL certificates will help protect your customers, help protect you, and help you to gain your customer’s trust and sell more. If you’re still not sure why SSL should be used on your website contact me today.
In the first part of the Ultimate Guide to Online Branding, we focused on using blogging to build your online presence. Now, we will focus on the best avenues and tips for online branding and authority building with social media. When it comes to social media, you cannot just create profiles and be done with it. You have to streamline your profiles to match your website to promote brand synergy, and you have to interact with your audience to build industry authority. The following guide will help you to do both!
Create a Consistent Brand Image for Each Profile
Have you ever visited a company’s social profile, and you were not sure that it belonged to the company? One of the most important parts of branding is keeping a consistent image across all of your online properties so that no matter what path a person takes from one property to the next, they will always know it is your brand. For example, someone might:
Find your fan page through a friend’s activity stream and then follow it to your blog, then website
See a tweet from someone they are following, visit your Twitter profile, and then continue onto your website.
Start at your website, then go to check out your social profiles to see if your company is engaging with fans (more on that later).
Just like you wouldn’t want pages on your website to be different themes, you will want your social profiles to do the same. Some great examples include:
Toyota probably does the best with branding between their website, Facebook, and YouTube accounts as shown above. All three are branded with the moving forward logo, and whenever they are running a promotion, such as the current one on the Camry, you will notice that their social accounts also highlight the same promotion so you can feel the consistency moving from one property to the next.
The above shows Southwest’s branding between their website, Twitter, and YouTube profiles. Each online property uses the same color scheme and is currently focused on holiday travel deals. Although the logos are a bit different, the patterns on each coordinate and still bring the brand together.
Redbull’s branding between their website, Facebook, and Twitter profiles as shown above uses the same color scheme, logo, and focus on extreme sports.
Help People Find Your Profiles
I do a lot of competitive analysis in my line of work, and one of the most frustrating things I have to do is search for a brand’s social profiles. Don’t hide your social media presence – flaunt them! Be sure to:
Put Social Icons on Your Website – Let visitors to your website know that you are engaging with your audience on social media as well by adding social icons to your website design. The most common places to place them include the header / menu bar, sidebar, and footer. They don’t have to be large and in charge – Toyota’s icons are only 17×17 pixels, and they get the job done!
Put Social Links in Your Communications – Do you send emails regularly? Add social links to your email signature. Do you send newsletters? Add social icons to them.
Make Your Profiles Search Friendly – If I Google your brand name + Twitter, I should get your Twitter handle in the search results. To make this happen, be sure that the name of your social profile (and the username if possible) matches your brand name. You might be tempted to keyword optimize your profiles instead of optimizing them for your brand name – this is something you need to resist. You can learn more about social media SEO on how to optimize for both effectively for search engines.
Get Engaged with Your Followers, Fans, and Subscribers
You probably know that it is important to maintain an active account by posting lots of updates, and that it is best to do something other than blasting advertisements non-stop about your brand. So the question is, what should you be doing to stay active in your social networks? Get engaged with your audience, of course. Here are the top networks to get socially engaged in for your brand.
In the Twitter Marketing Guide, we covered everything from competitor research to Twitter chats. So there’s no need to rehash those topics. If you’re goal is to build a strong presence on Twitter and demonstrate your brand’s authority in your industry, you need get involved with your following. Some ways to do so include:
Monitoring Brand Mentions – If you use Twitter itself, just do a search for your brand and save the search for future reference. If you use a Twitter management tool like HootSuite, create a keyword search column that will constantly update you with brand mentions. Anytime someone says something about your brand, whether it is good or bad, you should be responding to it if at all possible. This may mean adding some extra team members to your social media response staff. But over time, if people see that you are always on top of any discussion of your brand, you will gain trust and receive lots of great word of mouth marketing. People will tell their followers what a great response they’ve received from you and likely recommend you based on their satisfaction level.
Monitoring Industry Conversation – One of the best parts of Twitter is that you can jump into any conversation, anytime. So if you are a company providing web analytics software such as KISSmetrics, you can monitor anyone who talks about analytics, A/B testing, and other related topics and just answer simple questions that anyone asks about those topics demonstrating your expertise.
Curate the Best Content – Even if you are the best content creator in your industry, people often like to see a second opinion. Find out who other authorities are in your industry and share their opinion on industry topics with your following. You will gain more relevant followers simply for sharing the best news.
Facebook Fan Page Engagement
There are several different ways you can engage with your fans using your fan page that will keep your current fans active and bring new fans to your brand. These include:
Updating Your Fan Page on Facebook – It’s tempting to use HootSuite and other automated programs to update your fan page. But it’s becoming more and more obvious that if you want your updates to show up in fan’s news feeds that the updates must be organic, or originating from your fan page itself. So take the extra time to disable all of your autofeeds and start updating your fan page manually on Facebook. And when people start engaging with your posts or posting directly on your wall, be sure to respond to them. If they know they’re getting response, they’re more likely to return. No one likes a one-way broadcast.
Try Out Different Types of Updates – Don’t just post links or ask questions. Spice it up – add some video updates and photos. Different types of people like different types of content – be sure to try to cater to everyone by mixing your content up!
Thanks to the last major update to Facebook fan pages, you are able to use Facebook as your fan page. This means you can like pages as your fan page instead of your personal profile and then comment on them as your fan page. If you can find pages that are not direct competitors but whose audience will be interested in your brand, you will want to get active on them. For example, social media consultants should be living on Social Media Examiner’s fan pageto connect with other individuals and businesses looking for social media help.
If your brand isn’t on LinkedIn, you are missing out. LinkedIn allows you to add a company page where you can post your products, services, job openings, and even send status updates to your company followers including your latest blog posts. But some of the best branding and authority building activities for this network lie in the activity of the professional profiles including:
Participating in Groups – There are lots of great, active groups on LinkedIn in a wide variety of industries. Find the groups that have your potential client base within them and start getting active in discussions and posting useful content. Just be sure not to do anything that the group moderator would consider as spamming!
Answering Questions – The next best area to build a great professional reputation and strong authority in your industry is in LinkedIn Answers. There are questions asked every day in topics ranging from administration to technology. The people who answer the most questions are also featured on the answers’ home page as the week’s top experts!
Gaining Recommendations – Last, but not least, is recommendations. You can get recommendations on both the company pages and the professional profiles of your employees. Imagine if someone is browsing your company’s page and sees that the top employees have a ton of recommendations. It will show that you have a lot of experts in the industry which will make potential clients even more confident in your brand!
Every year, we see new elements and styles in website design begin to emerge.
Some elements — when incorporated thoughtfully — help tell stories and explain your company. Other elements work to improve how content looks on a specific device. While it’s not necessary to include every trend that comes about on your website, many of them have the potential to improve your visitor’s experience.
But with so many options to choose from, it can be challenging to determine which ones are really worth considering. To help you narrow your focus, we’ve detailed eight important elements of modern website design that you can include to improve your site’s performance.
8 Modern Website Design Elements and Trends
Element #1: Unique and Large Typography
Most companies have a particular font or typography that they use to help their customers immediately identify them versus their competitors. In recent years, designers have received a larger selection of fonts to choose from, making it easier for brands to more accurately express themselves through typography.
For example, The New Yorker is recognized instantly through their use of unique font, Adobe Caslon Pro. While more unique fonts, such as Blokletters-Balpen, have begun to be used by startups and technology companies like Zero.
Why is it useful?
Typography uses one design trend across the website to lead readers to different parts of the page. For instance, The New Yorker website leads visitors from one section to another based on the typography and font sizes.
When creating your company’s brand, your choice in typography can indicate subtle hints about who you are. Are you fun or serious? Functional or informational? Regardless of what font you choose, be sure that your designer considers its applicability across browsers and computers. Choosing a font that is not supported by common browsers and computers could mean that your website displays awkwardly on different devices.
Element #2: Large & Responsive Hero Images
You don’t have to go far beyond the popular publishing website Medium.com to see an example of a large hero image:
Large images such as this one do away with the concept of above and below the fold. By focusing on just the image with text rather than a CTA or social buttons, Medium creates a strong visual experience that encourages you to scroll down to read more.
Large hero images are also often placed in the background with text and other content overlaid on top, like on Uber’s website. Regardless of the approach you utilize, large images can help visually tell your story without having to rely on just text.
Why is it useful?
Your customers are coming from all over the place and have high expectations. You may not be sure if they are finding your website from their phone, tablet, or desktop computer. The image that Medium uses above is extremely powerful, but if it was only visible from desktop computers, many people may miss it.
That said, ensuring your images are responsive makes for a good user experience. Website visitors can look at different images — whether they are the background or product images — and be able to get the same experience no matter what device they are coming from.
Element #3: Background Videos
Videos that automatically play in the background can add a lot to a page. They can be used to tell a story and significantly reduce the amount of other content that is needed to explain your business.
Let’s take Wistia‘s website, for example. When you land on their homepage a large video automatically starts playing in the background, and by clicking on the play button, you get a deeper look at Wistia:
This background video serves as a brilliant way to get the visitor engaged to click-through to the main video.
Why is it useful?
Background videos focus on enticing the visitor from the moment they land on your page. The video allows your visitor to understand the key points about your company without ever having to read a single line of text.
In addition, video is processed 60,000 times faster by our brains compared to text. While people are often hesitant to read heavy blocks of text, videos appear effortless and can be consumed very quickly. It also helps that connection speeds are increasing and mobile device sizes are growing, making for better video experiences.
Element #4: Semi-Flat Design
In 2013 Apple fundamentally shifted to flat design. Simply put, flat design is any element that does not include or give the perception of three dimensions, such as shadows. Not only is flat design is easier for users to comprehend, but it can also load more quickly on websites without complicated or overly-technical elements.
Following in Apple’s footsteps, many other organizations — both large and small — have shifted to flat design. However, companies like Uber have put their own spin on the style by adding subtle shadows and dimensions. As you can see in the image below, the boxes have an element of depth with shadows around them, without overdoing it:
When you scroll over any of the boxes on the Uber homepage the shadow disappears and relieves the image behind it.
Why is it useful?
Flat design helps the visitor understand your content more quickly, and adding some elements of depth can bring it to life. Regardless of whether you fully design your website using flat design or utilize shadows and other elements, it’s important to be consistent throughout your website. Ensure that your homepage, product pages, and any other key sections of your website all utilize the same design cues so that visitors can instantly understand what they’re viewing.
Element #5: Hamburger Menus
It’s likely that most websites you come in contact with have a long menu of options to choose from. The advantage of this is that the menu can take the visitor directly to where they want to go. However, the disadvantage is that they generally take up a ton of valuable screen space.
The hidden, or hamburger, menu changes this. This menu was common in web applications before making it’s way to web design — even in Google Chrome you can find a hamburger menu on the right-hand side.
Wondering why it’s called a hamburger menu?
If you use your imagination, the three lines that are stacked on top of one another look like hamburger patties. Get it?
Why is it useful?
The pages of your website should have a clear path for the user to take. Removing a busy navigation makes the experience cleaner and distraction free. This improved experiences help to improve the likelihood that the user will find the information they need to complete a desired action.
Element #6: Giant Product Images
You may have noticed that many B2B websites are starting to display large product images on their sites to highlight different features or parts of their product. This is no coincidence.
To give you a better idea of what we’re talking about, let’s take a look at the product page for the HubSpot Website Platform:
There is a large featured image at the top of this page, and as you scroll down the page there are additional in-depth product images. The images are also responsive which aims to ensure an optimized experience for viewers coming from different devices, as we mentioned earlier.
Why is it useful?
Larger product images help designers highlight different features of a product in a more efficient and effective way.
This approach reinforces the benefits of a feature by providing the opportunity to highlight the most valuable pieces. For instance, in the second image, you will notice that there are numbers on the image corresponding with benefits of certain features.
These large images are also scan-friendly. They help visitors generate a solid understanding of what the different product features do by convey them through images instead of words.
Element #7: Card Design
With the rise of Pinterest, designers and marketers alike have become fascinated with cards. Individual cards help distribute information in a visual way so the visitors can easily consume bite-sized pieces of content without being overwhelmed.
Brit + Co’s homepage serves as a great example of card design in action:
By breaking up different pieces of content into cards, users can pick and choose which articles they want to expand. This helps to keep the homepage feeling clean and organized, without relying on a ton of text.
Why is it useful?
Card design is becoming more and more popular across B2B and B2C websites because it helps to deliver easily digestible chunks of information for users. Using this design on your site can help highlight multiple products or solutions side-by-side.
Keep in mind that your cards should be responsive. This means that as the screen size gets smaller or larger, the number and size of cards shown should adapt accordingly.
Element #8: Short Product or Feature Videos
In addition to background videos, companies are also beginning to use short product or feature videos to highlight a specific use case. These short videos are great at bringing your solution to life, while not overwhelming the visitor with a long experience that they must sit through.
A strong example of this comes from the folks at InVision. They display this short illustrator of how easy it is to use their product by dragging-and-dropping a design directly on their homepage:
Why is it useful?
According to Inc. Magazine, 92% of B2B customers watch online video, and 43% of B2B customers watch online video when researching products and services for their business. Therefore, B2B companies need to create videos that explain their products because it is influential in the buyer’s decision-making process.
These short videos allow for your prospect to quickly understand value without watching a really long, in-depth experience. Sure, both have value, but the shorter videos allows for quick understanding that is best for top of the funnel.
Initially, after the launch of the iPhone, the trend was to build separate sites depending on whether a person visited the site from a desktop computer or a mobile device. While it was easier from a development perspective, there were a significant number of drawbacks. The downsides included increasing maintenance costs, having to promote and maintain separate sites for SEO rankings and even having to build different mobile sites for different types of mobile devices.
Web designer Ethan Marcotte is credited with coining the term “responsive design.” In 2010, he published an article on A List Apart discussing the rapidly changing environment of devices, browsers, screen sizes, and orientations. Building separate sites for every type of device simply wouldn’t be sustainable. Instead, he proposed an alternative concept: responsive design, which calls for building flexible and fluid layouts that adapt to almost any screen.
Responsive web design consists of three development principles. To work properly, all three of these need to be implemented:
Flexible images and media
A flexible grid-based layout is the cornerstone of responsive design. It uses relative sizing to fit the content to the device’s screen size. The term “grid” is a little misleading because it’s not necessary to implement any of the available grid frameworks. Instead, CSS is used to position the content. This approach is based on percentages and is a departure from traditional pixel-based design principles. Responsive design moves away from the pixel-based approach because a pixel on one device could be eight pixels on another device. By basing text size, widths, and margins on percentages, a fixed size can be turned into a size relative to its display space.
Media queries, also known as breakpoints, can be used to apply different styles based on the capabilities of the device. The website detects the type of device you’re using or the size of your web browser and correctly displays the page. To see this in action, stretch the window of your web browser to different sizes. Notice how the page adjusts. Features can be used to control the width, height, max-width, max-height, device-height, orientation, aspect ratio, etc.
FLEXIBLE IMAGES AND MEDIA
This feature allows you to adapt images and other media to load differently, depending on the device, either by scaling or using the CSS overflow property.
Scaling in CSS is relatively straightforward—the media element’s max width can be set at 100 percent, and the web browser will make the image shrink and expand depending on its container.
An alternative to scaling media is to crop it with CSS. Applying overflow:hidden allows images to be cropped dynamically so that they fit into their containers.
So if you’re looking for a new website make sure it is RESPONSIVE. At Vontainment all our work is responsive.
SEO is a marketing discipline focused on growing visibility in organic (non-paid) search engine results. SEO encompasses both the technical and creative elements required to improve rankings, drive traffic, and increase awareness in search engines. There are many aspects to SEO, from the words on your page to the way other sites link to you on the web. Sometimes SEO is simply a matter of making sure your site is structured in a way that search engines understand.
SEO isn’t just about building search engine-friendly websites. It’s about making your site better for people too. At Vontainment Port Charlotte we believe these principles go hand-in-hand.
The majority of web traffic is driven by the major commercial search engines, Google, Bing, and Yahoo!. Although social media and other types of traffic can generate visits to your website, search engines are the primary method of navigation for most Internet users. This is true whether your site provides content, services, products, information, or just about anything else.
Search engines are unique in that they provide targeted traffic—people looking for what you offer. Search engines are the roadways that make this happen. If search engines cannot find your site, or add your content to their databases, you miss out on incredible opportunities to drive traffic to your site.
Search engines are smart, but they still need help. The major engines are always working to improve their technology to crawl the web more deeply and return better results to users. However, there is a limit to how search engines can operate. Whereas the right SEO can net you thousands of visitors and increased attention, the wrong moves can hide or bury your site deep in the search results where visibility is minimal.
In addition to making content available to search engines, SEO also helps boost rankings so that content will be placed where searchers will more readily find it. The Internet is becoming increasingly competitive, and those companies who perform SEO will have a decided advantage in visitors and customers.
The world of SEO is complex, but most people can easily understand the basics. Even a small amount of knowledge can make a big difference. Free SEO education is widely available on the web, including in guides like this. Combine this with a little practice and you are well on your way to becoming a guru.
Depending on your time commitment, your willingness to learn, and the complexity of your website(s), you may decide you need an expert to handle things for you. Firms like Vontainment can help you with that.
In any case, it’s good to have a firm grasp of the core concepts.