Bay Area Website Design

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No matter where you are or where your business is, you can hire a website design team from down the street... or the other side of the world. Proprietors in this industry are remarkable in two regards: their ubiquity and the ease with which they can do their jobs remotely from anywhere. This is actually really great because such a field of competition drives innovation and keeps standards fairly high. The situation does present a good question, however, to those in the market for a new website: why should I choose a website design team from one area over another? While there are great web designers all over the world, I am going to make the case for choosing a team or professional person from the San Francisco Bay Area. 

The Bay Area remains the worlds' number one center for tech innovation. The most ambitious seekers of careers in this industry flock here to be a part of a culture that is home to both some of the world's top tech companies and an innumerable bevvy of start-ups. The competition in website design is extremely high and so are standards. 

Still, it might be possible to find a great web designer in India who can produce the same level of work for cheaper. After all, the Bay Area has high municipal minimum wages and web designers need to charge enough to pay rent in this expensive cost-of-living area. 

Keep in mind that you get what you pay for. Website designers in the Bay Area thrive on reputation, not on looking like a potential bargain. Not only this, but residents have a greater ability to change to important new developments in the world of website design, not only because of their ability to network, but because this is hotspot for major design conferences (such as Joomla Days in San Jose in 2010 and San Francisco in 2013). Having an attractive website is great, but reacting to changes in the web landscape is what will get people to see your site in the first place and have a better user experience. With Bay Area website design professionals, you can count on skill, talent and the ability to keep your website on top.

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The Business Value of Professional E-Commerce : Get Your Own Webstore

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No matter whether you operate a clothing boutique in Manhattan or a Wisconsin dairy, a factory in Pennsylvania or a Southern California surfshop, the last few decades have borne witness to huge and wide-sweeping changes in the business landscape. Innumerable new technologies have been developed; however, none have been as important as the Internet. With websites serving as hubs for commerce, as well as instant communication with email, the Internet has revolutionized how businesses are run. Nowadays businesses must maintain an internet presence to stay competitive.

As a business owner, there are many examples to look to in developing internet savvy. Amazon.com is the best example of what a business can achieve through e-commerce. Amazon is the industry leader in direct to consumer sales, offering competitive pricing and a streamlined business model. Amazon serves millions of customers all over the globe, selling everything from books, food, software, clothing, hardware, and everything in between. They do this by profiting from other businesses that lack their own direct-to-buyer infrastructure. For your company, consider the benefits of a powerful internet presence and direct sales. By having an accessible web presence potential customers can easily browse your services and communicate with you. Furthermore, by offering direct sales you can cut out the middle man and save both you and your customers money. This allows you to streamline your business model considerably, giving you the edge you need to be competitive in today’s world. It is important to remember, however, that your store must be built well in order to make your products accessible to the end user.

These concerns are only amplified by the recent mobile revolution. Now all the benefits of an internet connection are available to people at all times, allowing communication and commerce to expand even further. The differing format of a mobile device requires a different webcoding than for desktop browsers, making a mobile-friendly internet presence doubly attractive. Mobile is the future, and Google, the premiere search engine is going to revise their search algorithm as of April 21st to favor websites that are mobile-friendly. Websites that are not optimized for mobile devices will be penalized and not be as visible in search results. Businesses are always forced to adapt to stay competitive, and Google’s new search algorithms give a powerful incentive for savvy business owners to maintain a mobile-friendly website. But a smart business owner shouldn’t maintain a mobile friendly site solely to avoid Google’s search-engine penalty, a mobile friendly we presence is a help to both the business and the customer, allowing for smoother transactions, more business, and more satisfied customers. 

When it comes to designing and maintaining a webpage it is a wise and cost-effective decision to seek professional assistance. For this, look no further than K2 Website Design.  Run by an excellent team of website designers, K2 Website Design has an extensive resume of websites designed for businesses and brings years of professionalism and experience to the table. Furthermore, their own webpage has a clean, functional, and attractive design, uniquely showcasing their own services. Consider the advantages of a professional designed webpage for your own business. Offering a helpful, professional, and classy face for your company will give the best possible impression to potential customers, and will give you the edge you need to compete in today’s rapidly changing business landscape.

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Tech Companies Battling in International Relations: Google, China, Europe

Tech Companies Battling in International Relations: Google, China, Europe

The last couple of days have seen new reports of the largest tech companies battling it out with governmental agencies around the world. While all international businesses have to comply with regulations of the governments of the countries in which they do business, the big tech companies occupy a unique sphere of the market – the gateways to the internet, which is a public utility – and are large enough to flex their power both offensively and defensively. This context has created a situation in which giants such as Google, Facebook, and Apple are regularly stepping into the ring of international relations.

 

 

Just this week Google and Mozilla decided to stop supporting sites certified by CNNIC (China Internet Network Information Center), the main digital certificating authority in China. Users of two of the three biggest browsers will be stopped with warning messages when trying to access any of these sites – most website based in China – as soon as the move takes effect. Already, the browsers have determined not to recognize any new certificates and all online monetary transactions have been stopped. While both companies have stated that CNNIC is welcome to reapply upon fixing some false certificate issues, this represents a major move against China's web traffic and internet economy, a growing sector. This is not, however, Google's only overseas struggle at the moment. 

 

In Europe, there has been a struggle against Google for some time, with the company losing a lawsuit over the “right to be forgotten” last year. Now, the company will have to defend itself against an anti-trust move from the European Commission. Google is used for about 90% of all searches on the European continent, a fact that doesn't sit well in Brussels, resulting in a recommendation of the European Parliament to break up the company. With Google's ability to majorly impact foreign web traffic with both certificate recognition and search engine algorithm changes, this is hardly surprising, especially in light of European attitudes towards large American tech firms in general.

 

Facebook, Amazon and Apple are all also under scrutiny in Europe. Apple is preparing to defend itself from a tax audit designed to pull back taxes from the company. This is in response to a low operational tax paid for commerce on the continent due to a deal brokered with Ireland, where the regional headquarters is located. Amazon is facing down over its right to offer prices as it wishes against the background of European cross-border trade agreements while Facebook is under scrutiny for its privacy policy.

 

All of these companies have big fights ahead in a number of different arenas; some will win and  some will lose, but there is no question that the results of these contests will shape the way that businesses and governments will interact in our faster online globalized world. 

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How to Develop a Working Relationship between Web Designers and Clients

Whether you are a web designer or a website owner/client, you are likely working in a new business milieu – one that is only a few years old – wherein independent entrepreneurs and/or small businesses interact directly over large distances or across time zones. Even “local” jobs are often further than would make sense to commute for a meeting; most clients and designers never meet face-to-face. At the same time, website owners are also dealing with new technology suites for which they have no background for understanding.

 

Website owners, you didn't grow up hearing from your parents how to negotiate these sorts of contracts; the vast majority of the technologies your site will employ didn't exist the last time you had a site built 8 years ago, much less when you were growing up. This creates a context that obviously could allow for abuse, much as an auto mechanic might rely on the ignorance of his customers to charge three thousand dollars to replace a working head gasket when a thermostat is out. For website owners, this means you are likely to be on guard. Fair enough, but too often web designers spend large amounts of their and their clients' time explaining to skeptical clients what they actually do need.

 

To increase efficiency and create a better working relationship, web designers should follow these four steps:

 

- invest some phone time up front

- choose the technology that fits your clients' needs

- be clear about ongoing costs

- support what you say

 

One of the first steps to take when engaging a new customer is to build a trustworthy rapport. This means volunteering up some phone time. No you're not getting paid for this, but neither does this have any immediate value to the client either. However, for both parties, a willingness to invest in a more functional and trusting long-term relationship is both wise and a positive thing to look for in the person with whom you are speaking. Know where your customer (or designer if you are the client) lives, what the weather is like there, if they have kids, what they do for fun. You don't need to know their most intimate desires or if they prefer a normative to a positive ethics system; just make a genuine human relationship. This takes a bit of time, but it is worth it for both parties.

 

This human relationship should give the designer an idea of what kind of needs the client has and what kind of money they are capable of throwing towards addressing those needs – take these into consideration. Most web designers really want to work on big, expensive and cool looking sites with neat animated custom modules all over the place. That's really great, but sometimes all someone needs is a picture, some text and a contact form. Choose the right CMS for your client (sometimes this is Joomla, sometimes Wordpress, sometimes Drupal) and choose the right extensions to achieve their business goals, not your design preferences. Too often are over-ambitious website projects killed in gestation when overwhelmed customers realize they have walked into a money pit. Even if they can afford to build the website you want to build, they may not have the budget to maintain it.

 

Speaking of which, maybe one of the most important discussions to have with a new website client is about technology upgrades and site maintenance. What is obvious to a designer is often a huge surprise to their client: that a website needs regular maintenance and that the tools used to build a site last year now are no longer current. CMS upgrades are probably the most important thing to explain when getting started. Clients should know how long a CMS version's lifespan is likely to be and how much they should have put away to upgrade when the time comes. They should also know the consequences of not upgrading (see last blog). They should know why they should have an SEO budget, that they need to pay for hosting and extension upgrades, etc., etc. Your trusting relationship and professional assistance in choosing the right technologies should help in making sure this does not become a problem.

 

Still, even though you hopefully have a good rapport, you can only help build it by providing links to support everything that you say. Keep a doc stored with links to official documentation or 3rd party designer blogs that explain everything that you say. After some time of fact-checking a customer will likely take a designers word as truth, but at first everything a designer claims should have a bibliography to it. Keep a link to a blog comparing and contrasting CMS's; keep one explaining core updates for each of those CMS's; keep one explaining the necessity of extension security management; keep one explaining the need for SEO if they want to be found; most of all, keep a link to this blog to show that you are trying to do what is best for them.

Just kidding.

 

Good luck building smoother client relationships.

 

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Joomla 2.5 End of Life and What That Means to You

Joomla 2.5 End of Life and What That Means to You

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Last month, I wrote about the impact of running out-of-date content management systems, such as the old Joomla 1.5, to your site's searchability, security and success. (If you missed that, you can catch up here). While all of that information is still valid, a major recent event in the world of CMS series has made necessary and addendum to that information: As of the end of January 31st, 2014, the Joomla community has ended its support for the long-term release Joomla 2.5. https://docs.joomla.org/What_version_of_Joomla!_should_you_use%3F

 

So, what does this mean? How bad will this be for websites currently running 2.5 and how immediately will the consequences be felt? The answers to these questions are somewhat complicated, but to sum it up: no one should be panicking right now, but over the next several months we can anticipate the consequences for not updating to become quite bad, exhibiting all of the same problems that already exist for other out-of-date CMS systems.

 

At the moment, websites running Joomla 2.5 have been fairly recently updated for security threats, so neither the site owners nor search engines should be terribly concerned about breeches to security, especially with many 3rd party extension developers continuing to support their releases for 2.5. Although some developers have certainly already stopped supporting their old software, the next major step in unraveling this framework is scheduled for March 1st of this year when Akeeba backup cuts off support for Joomla 2.5 (https://www.akeebabackup.com/home/news/1609-announcement-about-joomla-25-support.html). Akeeba backup is one of the most integral pieces of software involved in running a Joomla site. While other security problems could potentially be patched up by running an Akeeba backup restore, a problem that exploits vulnerabilities in an old version of Akeeba is a much more serious concern. Therefore it would be recommended to begin updating from Joomla 2.5 during March at the latest.

 

Of course, your website may still be fine even in April, but as the lack of security makes the framework less popular, more and more extensions will become permanently unsupported, causing more security holes, reducing popularity and so on and so forth. Before long, as we have already seen, the lack of support generally will cause to search engines to steer users away from websites currently running that software. If you think that being able to be found on Google is important to your business' success, don't panic, but do begin immediately to make a timeline for upgrading your website to the current version 3.3.

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CMS core management and Google Ranking: Another Case for Updating your Joomla! Installation to the Current Version

While many people are aware of the security risks associated with allowing their website software to run out-of-date, there is still an idea that these security risks do not immediately impact a website's success until there is a security breach, something that may never actually happen. This line of thought can lead site owners to see a greater cost in software updating than in the incremental loss of standing in the numbers game that governs the likelihood of a security breach. While the wisdom of this is questionable at best, it is not a wholly unreasonable gamble. There is, however, a significant immediate downside to gambling like this: major search engines such as Google will penalize your site for the lack of security that your site can guarantee to its users.

 

 

Much of a search engine's long term user retention is based off of their users not having any remarkably bad experiences while browsing the internet. This is why browsers now warn users of suspicious sites and accommodate search filters built by anti-virus and anti-malware services. It is also why they will steer users away from sites that are less secure by moving those sites further down in the search rankings. If that doesn't seem like a problem, remember that 92% of all searches navigate to a site on the first page of results. (http://chitika.com/google-positioning-value) A site with a low security value assessment by Google with otherwise very good SEO (Search Engine Optimization) in place might still appear several search pages back, thus keeping the majority of users from ever visiting that site.

 

A website owner who is running a website built on unsupported technology might receive such a notice as this:

 

 

 

Before this notice, this site had been on the first Google search results page for relevant keywords. This screenshot was taken shortly after it dropped to page 14, effectively killing all traffic to the site.

 

 

Unless you are anticipating your users using Netscape or some other outdated browser without a search engine, or if you are building a site for yourself that you don't want other people to see, it would be extremely recommendable to keep your core technology fully up-to-date. It is not only a security imperative, but, immediately, an SEO imperative that you do so. If you are unsure what version your website is or if you are running a CMS, please call K2websitedesign.com at 1 (888) 292-6018. We will be happy to answer any questions over the phone free of charge.

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How Can I Tell if I am Getting a Good Deal on Website Design?

If you're purchasing website design and/or website development services, it's probably because you are not an expert in this field. Of course, you might just be a web guru so busy with high-end enterprise development that you don't have time to build your own website; if you are, you can stop reading this – it is not meant for you. Okay. For all of the rest of you who are still with us, the problem remains: you don't know how websites really work and you are hiring a website designer or design team to build one for you, and you know that you can't really tell how progress is coming on a lot of the behind-the-scenes work, and that feels a little like going to the auto-mechanic who may or may not be trying to siphon as much dough as possible from you.

 

 

So what are you going to do about it? You're going to do the same thing that you would with your car: you're going to learn a little about it and a little about the business looking under the hood. No, not enough so that you are an expert – just enough so that you can tell if your mechanic might not be telling the truth when he says that your head gasket is blown. In this blog, we will look at a few simple ways to recognize whether or not you are getting what you pay for with web design.

 

 

1. Make sure there are set deliverables. You should know exactly what you are going to get, how much it will cost and how long it will take until the job is done. This might seem straight-forward and obvious, but really it is not. Upper-end development is done by the hour, and for good reason: it can be very hard to predict when a tool might not work or when something might break. A person might spend four hours doing something that seems, to a casual observer, like it should take fifteen minutes; or vise versa. A web designer will take this into consideration when making their bid, and will probably estimate about ten percent more time on the project than what it should take if everything goes perfectly smoothly. This might be slightly inaccurate in either direction, but a good designer knows that the guarantee of a set price for a set service is worth the risk; if you make customers happy regularly, you can eat the cost of a project that suffers from unforeseen technical errors.

 

 

2. Hire a small team. Ideally your team should be comprised of only a couple people. While it is often necessary to have more than one person for a well-rounded skill set, there should never be more than three people working on one website. There are two reasons for this. The most important one is communication efficiency: the additional amount of energy required to keep additional people fully up-to-date on a website's plan and progress grows exponentially; to keep the left hand talking to the right hand, each additional person on a project is tantamount to one more line of communication for each other person on the project, thus increasing administrative overhead 1 degree more than the previous person did. The other reason is personal accountability. You need to be able to talk to both your creative lead designing your site and the person who is actually developing it; hopefully those people are the same person. Of course there might be more than one developer or a content writer or graphic designer, but overall there should be a personal relationship between the client and a person who has their hands fully in the project.

 

 

3. Ask questions. Ask your designer/developer what types of technologies the plan to implement on your project and then do some research. You probably will not figure out how these things work, but you will get a good idea of how expert the person you are talking to is. They should have a background in different Content Management Systems (CMSs), templates, extentions, plugins, coding languages and various other types of web-building technologies. Normally a lay person can get a good idea of how knowledgeable a purported “expert” is by asking additional questions. Dig in to the person. If they are unwilling or unable to answer your questions on the phone, they are likely not representing a team that you want to hire.

 

 

Please take all of these factors and more into consideration when you are considering a new website design team. As always, feel free to contact us at K2websitedesign.com, your California website design pros.

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Why Should I Choose One Company for Design, Development and SEO?

Business owners try to accomplish two things when they are embarking on a website project: create a functional and attractive website that reflects the mission and objectives of their company, and to maximize traffic to their site. The question that will likely arise is, essentially:

“There are many services available on the web that specialize in website creation or in website traffic generation, while also many services exist that provide both. Should I, the consumer, choose to have different specialists handle these two aspects of my website's success, or should I choose one service that can provide all-around service.”

The answer is that the most cost effective and reliable services will come from designers who are experts in both traffic generation and website development.

One of the most important things that determines a website’s success is effective communication between the website designer and the client. Time spent coordinating between parties involved on a project will significantly drive up overhead. This is unavoidable for the largest businesses that will need different teams to handle different areas, but for websites it is possible to reduce the amount of inter-departmental communication to a simple relationship between site owner and webmaster. You don’t need multiple administrators getting in each others’ way. A website designer who already knows the site content will be able to make edits to increase the number of site visitors.

It is crucial that the two parties are able to trust in relying on each other. Creating a good business relationship between the website designer and the client is the most important criteria for a website's success. That is why the most effective way of ensuring website success is choosing a professional all-around service from a single website service provider, such as K2 Website Design, that strives to build long-lasting business relationships.

Still some people might be thinking that website owners would be losing the benefit of expertise by not choosing a service that specializes in traffic generation. While this may be true in some cases, web services like K2 Website Design are capable of offering competitive services that bring visitors to your site. With the added benefit of already knowing the website inside and out, it is not possible for a specialized service to offer anything so effective.

The largest part involved in bringing traffic to your site is Search Engine Optimization (SEO). When looking into SEO, website owners are looking to ensure that their website appears first when a potential client is looking for their services. Primarily, you want your web designer to handle your SEO because they will already be thoroughly familiar with the website and so be most able to synchronize the search tags of your site with the content of your site with the purpose of your site. Furthermore, your professional website design service, one such as K2 Website Design, will be well-versed in open-source online technologies such as Google Analytics, SEOcentro and SEMrush. These tools significantly reduce time (and thus overhead) involved in the diagnostics part of improving a website’s search rank. The designer is able to make all of the website edits needed to improve ranking; a specialized SEO service would likely have to submit a task list to a designer. The savings here are then passed on to the consumer, lowering the cost of professional, effective SEO.

Lastly, one should consider this: while a traffic generation service does SEO to make money on SEO, a website designer is an artist whose main business is producing websites. At K2 Website Design, we want our business partner's sites to improve in the rankings just as they do. The sites that we build that are bringing business to their owners also bring business to us. In a word, your exposure is our exposure; if we make a website, retain a positive business relationship with the owner, keep our logo featured at the bottom of the site and people see that, that is the best advertising we can have. We have a motivation to provide cost-effective website traffic augmentation services that work because we work with you.

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Why Do I Need to Keep Working with a Web Service After My Site is Launched?

It is important to update and manage your website over time. Your website is an important tool to keep you in touch with your clients. Just like a physical shop or storefront can be built and opened, so too can a website be. A website can be launched, functional, and accessible for an indeterminate amount of time. However, much as storefront requires active maintenance to keep inventory updated and the exterior in good condition, so also must a website be updated for performance, style and security.

As California’s leader in website development, K2 Website Design uses the high-functionality Joomla framework for the our websites. We enhance our websites using extensions that increase development efficiency and limit hard-changes to PHP and JS code. These softwares are regularly updated by their developers in response to market pressures from their users. These extensions must be regularly updated on each site in order to improve functionality and optimize security systems . For instance, a shopping cart extension for an e-Commerce website might alter its attributes system to align with the best user experience as determined by new market research. These sorts of updates are important for keeping your site competitive in a rapidly progressing web environment.

The second major reason extension developers update their software is to thwart new security threats. Developers who wish to have reputable products must remain vigilant in the face of ever more sophisticated hacking attempts. Many extension updates are purely security fixes, and out-of-date extensions on your website are exploitable security holes. While a website may stay online for years without management, the risk of breaking of hacking grows constantly . Business owners in California know how important it can be to retro-fit buildings or carry insurance for earthquakes, as was reminded to Napa County just recently. A website owner knows that it is best to maintain a healthy and ongoing business relationship with their knowledgeable web-developer if at all possible. The designer/ developer that built the site is going to be most familiar with the technologies in question and in what way they were implemented, so he/she will be most prepared to maintain the security and functional integrity of the site.

Finally, the most apparent reason that a website owner wants to keep employing their web service after launch – style is key. Here's where the tangible building analogy falls apart: when you go to your local supermarket, do you think to yourself, “god this place looks fifteen years old”? No, probably not; but when a site was last built on in 1998, the user will be immediately stricken by how archaic it appears (check out this link and tell me I am wrong). California website owners need more than just the updated functionality to stay market-competitive; their site needs to look attractive and inspire users to click through more pages. Your website is more than just a tool for you to convey your purpose/product to the consumer; it is an experience.

Retaining an active business relationship with K2 Website Design ensures that the experience that your clients receive remains modern and compelling. Graphic image updates will keep repeat users interested, even with subtle changes. The functionality updates will maintain the perception of quality improvement among clients, a reflection of the integrity of your business in providing the best possible service. K2 Website Design is a California website design service that promises to provide the best possible service so that you can too.

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