Friday, September 02, 2005

How to Choose a Web Design Company

Every successful company knows that a web site is an essential marketing tool. Whether you’re in the business of selling widgets, soliciting volunteers, or building your brand awareness, a carefully executed internet marketing plan can reap a tremendous return on your time and money.

You know you need a web site, but how do you go about getting one if you don’t know the first thing about design or development, and you can forget about html, css, php, .NET, the backend, the frontend, and all of those other funny words that web people use.

With a multitude of web designers and developers out there, from freelancers, to agencies, to online templates, how do you know what the right fit is for your company, and more importantly, for your goals and objectives?

The list of questions and tips below should get you started with asking the right questions. And, the best part is, you won’t have to learn what all those crazy acronyms mean.

The first thing you need to do is determine your goals and objectives.


• Who is your target audience?
• How will your target audience find your website?
• What do you want them to do once they’re there?
• How will updates be made to the site?
• What is your timeline?
• What kind of return on investment do you expect from the site and how will you measure it?

When searching for a company, here are a few key questions to consider:

• Does the company’s portfolio reflect the kind of aesthetic that you are looking for? Do they show a range of work from playful to conservative? Are the sites within their portfolio easy to use? Are there any broken links, bugs, or design issues?
• Does the company work with clients in your industry? Have they previously created a site similar to what you want in scope and function? For example, if you need an easy content management system to update your site with new products, have they implemented something similar for another client?

Once you have narrowed down your list to a couple of companies that seem to be a good fit, contact them with these things in mind:

• Were they responsive to your query, or did it take them four days to return your call? Were they friendly and helpful and take time to find out about your company and your needs? (Beware of companies who lead the discussion with just design considerations. How are users going to find your site to begin with and how will the site generate leads or sales?) Did they speak over your head using lots of jargon in an attempt to upsell you on their products?
• What kinds of guarantees do they offer for their products? What kind of support is available? Do they have a thorough testing process? What are the terms of the contract and who owns the final design, source code, and intellectual property?

Now that you’ve found a couple of different companies, and have a couple of proposals in hand, you’ll want to take some time to compare them carefully and check references. Call several of the company’s clients and ask the following questions:

• Did the company meet your goals and objectives?
• Did they follow up after the launch, or disappear once the check was cashed?
• Does the site function properly?
• Are you happy with the design?
• What does your target audience think of the design and functionality?
• Did you get the return on investment that you were expecting?

By taking the time to ask the right questions and checking references, you should end up with a company who not only meets your goals, but exceeds them, and becomes a trusted marketing consultant.

Monday, June 06, 2005

Search Engine Optimization

In almost every meeting we have with potential or new clients, we ask them what their goals are for search engine placement. Many of them answer by saying they hadn't considered it, and thought that search engine optimization was something that happens AFTER the website is designed and up and running. Most of our clients also say that during the RFP process, none of the other Denver web design and development companies even bring up how the client's search engine placement goals will be addressed.

It seems that many Denver web design companies are not up to date with the latest best practices for building search engine friendly web sites. Additionally, they may be more interested in selling the client expensive Flash features, and elaborate web design that actually work against the clients organic search engine placement.

Almost every day I meet someone who tells me they have a web site and they are happy with the design, but want to know how to get better organic search results and stop paying so much for pay per click campaigns. There are quite a few things one can do, but the most important is to build it right from the beginning. Make sure your web design firm adresses this question with you before you discuss color, look and feel, or any other design consideration.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Fusionbox and Traffic Direct Achieve Top Search Engine Results for QualMark

Fusionbox and Traffic Direct worked together to redevelop QualMark's website in order to increase their search engine position. The results were beyond our expectations.

Read the case study below:

The Client: QualMark Corporation

QualMark Corporation, the knowledge leader in accelerated testing, is based in Denver Colorado. Their HALT (Highly Accelerated Life Testing) and HASS (Highly Accelerated Stress Screening) methods enable industry leaders in electronics, medical devices, automotive, military and aerospace to launch better products to market faster while reducing development cost.

The Challenge:

Improve search engine positioning for targeted keywords.

The Solution:

A search on Google with QualMark's targeted keywords resulted in QualMark coming up on the fourth page of Google. QualMark's competitors were enjoying much better keyword results, and QualMark, being a leader in the industry, recognized that they needed to maintain a competitive position on Google in order to capture new market share.

Fusionbox and Traffic Direct performed a code review of QualMark's current code and recommended the site be redesigned to eliminate all JavaScripting, and excess HTML. The site was initially designed by a graphic designer who had little knowledge of writing HTML with search engine results in mind. Traffic Direct wanted to decrease the ratio of code to keywords, so the search engine spiders could access QualMark's wealth of relevant content.

The Traffic Direct and Fusionbox teams recreated every single page of the 100 page site using our best practices for building search engine-friendly sites. The code for the home page was reduced from over 900 lines of code to under 100 lines of code. Fusionbox also created meta information and new page titles and descriptions for each of the 100 pages. We also recommended that the keywords be represented as links on the home page if possible.

The Results:

As a result of the recoding of QualMark's site, the company's search engine position increased dramatically. The site went from being listed on the fourth page of Google, to becoming first on Google for its targeted keywords. As a result of the new search engine results, QualMark has received more sales leads from first time buyers.

Monday, May 16, 2005

Fusionbox and Traffic Direct form Partnership

Where Web Design, Functionality, and Search Engine Results Come Together

DENVER, CO, May 5, 2005 - Fusionbox, Inc. and Traffic Direct, LLC formed a strategic partnership that brings together complimentary skills in order to better support their clients' internet initiatives. Fusionbox is a Denver, CO based Web Development and Design Company and Traffic Direct is a Denver-based Internet Marketing Company.

Traffic Direct's integrated approach includes web site usability services, search engine positioning, link strategies, content development and management, data collection and analysis, and lead generating campaigns all with the goal to acquire, retain and build revenue from their clients' online presence. Fusionbox provides search engine-friendly design, programming, and user interface architecture.

Fusionbox found that many companies were approaching their web presence entirely as it relates to the design of the site. By doing this, they find that while the design is aesthetically impressive, it does not work toward high search engine ranking and usability. Not until the site has launched do many companies even consider search engine optimization, when in some cases, it might be too late. "It's really important that a site be designed and developed with search-engine optimization in mind from the beginning," said Alexander Groth, Fusionbox's president. "There's still plenty of flexibility design-wise, but there are ways of implementing that design that can greatly improve your site's SEO. Many of our clients come to us feeling abandoned and misled by their current web design vendor, because search engine results are not considered during design and development." By working in concert from the site strategy, to the content, design, and development, and finally to launch, Fusionbox and Traffic Direct are able to deliver a search-engine friendly product.

Contact Information:

Ivy Hastings
Ph: 720 953-1083

Traffic Direct
Kathleen Maher
Ph: 720 855-7008