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Sue Studios Holistic Web Design

bullet point What is Holistic Web Design?
bullet point What is a URL?
bullet point What domain name should I get?
bullet point What is web hosting?
bullet point What is a search engine?
bullet point What Are Meta Tags And How Are They Best Used?
bullet point Will Meta Tags Improve My Rankings?
bullet point Why would I need a web site?
bullet point What makes a good brand?
bullet point What are the characteristics of a good web site?
bullet point What is the process?
bullet point I already have a web site/partially built site, can you fix it/finish it?

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What is Holistic Web Design?

Holistic can be defined as

"emphasizing the importance of the whole and the interdependence of its parts rather than separation into parts".

Holistic web design integrates the spirit of the company with dynamic design while at the same time being functional and having clear navigation. It integrates the website with other marketing activities - on and offline.

Online activities include meta tags, search engine registration, domain name registration, web hosting and internet marketing.

Offline marketing activities include marketing materials such as business cards, corporate stationary and envelopes.

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What is a URL?

URL is your address on the webURL is the acronym for Uniform Resource Locator. It is like your address on the Web. Think of your home address that has a street name and number. How will someone find you without that information? The URL is like your "virtual home" on the Internet. Name recognition might be a major factor on deciding exactly what "address" you choose for your new "home".

 

What domain name should I get?

The best domain name is memorable and makes sense. It should also be easy to spell, and easy to say, which is why abbreviations or hyphens are not recommended.

A generic product name, such as carrots.com may seem ideal, but be warned that these names are rarely available. According to some accounts, every word in the English dictionary has been registered as a .com.

YourCompany.com is always a good choice. Unfortunately, it might only be available with a different extension, such as .ca or .net. Generally, a .com name is always preferable over a .ca or .net domain. Old habits die hard, and people are simply used to the .com names. As with finding the right business name, choosing your domain name may take a little creativity and perseverance.

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What is web hosting?

Web hosting is actually where your domain sitsHosting (also known as Web site hosting, Web hosting, and Webhosting) is the business of housing, serving, and maintaining files for one or more Web sites.

More important than the computer space that is provided for Web site files is the fast connection to the Internet. Most hosting services offer connections on T-carrier system lines. Typically, an individual business hosting its own site would require a similar connection and it would be expensive. Using a hosting service lets many companies share the cost of a fast Internet connection for serving files.

Need more information about choosing a web hosting company.

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What is a search engine?

Search Engines such as GoogleA search engine is a program that searches documents (i.e. web pages, which are HTML documents) for specified keywords and returns the list of documents. A search engine has 2 parts: a spider and an indexer. The spider is the program that fetches the documents, and the indexer reads the documents and creates an index based on words or ideas contained in each document. The search engine is like your very own personal dispatcher, yet classified by the advertisement you have given them, such as a newspaper. Some basic guidelines are:

  1. Choose target key words and phrases for your site.

    When choosing key phrases, it helps to imagine what word combinations potential customers might use to find sites like yours. If a word is commonly misspelled, the misspelling can even be used as a target.

  2. Build key words and phrases into the site.

    Key phrases should be built into many parts of your site: in the body text, in Meta tags, in titles, and in image alt tags, just to name a few. These tags are a must-have, and surprisingly some web sites have none at all! When search engine spiders index your site, these are the words they will look at in order to rank your site. This is one downside to having a Flash-based site - all the Flash words are images, which the spiders cannot read. Frames-programmed sites can also be a problem.

  3. Announce the site to free search engines.

    Some search engines still offer free registration such as Google, AltaVista, DirectHit, Lycos, SearchBC, and WebCrawler. Some will add your site to their database immediately, others can take several weeks.

  4. Paid search engine review/placement.

    Some directories, such as Yahoo, require payment to review your web site. As of January 2002, they require $299USD on an ongoing annual basis to keep your site in their directory. Is it worth it? That depends entirely on your type of business and target market. A listing on Yahoo could easily double your traffic, but again, the value of that traffic depends on the goals of your site.

  5. Ongoing search engine optimization and maintenance.

    Your web site traffic reports will show how many hits you are getting, from which key phrases, on which search engines. Based on these traffic reports, you may choose to change your keywords slightly and resubmit them to search enginesin order to change your ranking and traffic. You can also have your site resubmitted every month or two. This can be part of your maintenance contract with us if you so desire. For more detailed information on search engines check out these links:

    Search Engine Guide
    Search Engine Watch

Need more information about search engines. Read the article, Demystifying Search Engines to help clarify this confusing part of the Internet.

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What Are Meta Tags And How Are They Best Used?

Key words in the meta tagsWhen the HTML language was first created, it was recognized that new tags would later be needed for specialized purposes. Since there wasn't any way to anticipate every possible need, the META tag was created as a sort of "catch-all." These tags allow Webmasters to issue an unlimited variety of commands, or to provide information to a browser, search engine, or automated program (i.e. robot).

The tags are ignored by default unless the browser or search engine specifically recognizes them. Meta tags are contained in the HEAD section near the top of the page. They're not displayed to the end user unless you view the source code of the page.

The two most common Meta tags are keyword and description tags.

The Meta keyword tag is designed to tell the search engine what keywords are important to your page, and thereby how people should be able to find you when they search. It should look something like the following:

META name="keywords" content="my keywords should be listed here"

Although you can list as many keywords as you like, most search engines will not read more than about 1000 characters. Include your most important keywords at the start of the tag.

The Meta description tag is primarily used for telling the search engine what description you want associated to the page in the search engine's results. It should look something like this:

META name="description" content="A short description of my Web site goes here."

It's essential that you create a compelling description for your page to entice people to click to your website from the search results. Each engine that supports the Meta description tag will truncate it down to 150 to 400 characters depending on the engine. Therefore, include the best portion of your description in the first 150 characters, but go ahead and add additional sentences to fill it out to about 400 characters.

It doesn't matter what order you place the tags in the HEAD area, although it's recommended that you include the TITLE tag first on the page, before listing any other tags.

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Will Meta Tags Improve My Rankings?

Unfortunately, the majority of the major search engines do not recognize the Meta keyword tag at all. A larger number do recognize the Meta description tag for the purpose of creating a summary for the page. The prevailing philosophy is that search engines prefer to index text that is clearly VISIBLE to the user, although exceptions are certainly made.

The engines, in general, consider text found in the Meta tags as invisible or "untrustworthy" since an unethical Webmaster can easily abuse them. For example, someone could list many keywords that do not apply to their page's content, or they could repeat a keyword many times in hopes of boosting their rankings.

Of the engines that do support Meta tags, none are thought to give extra "relevance" to words appearing in Meta tags versus elsewhere on the page. In fact, most engines give words in these tags less weight than if they had appeared elsewhere on the page such as in the body area or the page title.

You might then conclude that Meta tags are useless. Well, not quite. You definitely want to include a Meta description tag on every page to avoid the search engine making up its own description from random excerpts on the page.

In regard to the Meta keyword tag, many experts believe that including a keyword in BOTH your Meta tags and in other areas of your page CAN help improve your rankings.

For example, let's say your keyword was "Star Wars collectibles" and it appeared in the body text that is visible to the user. If the keyword were also included in your meta keyword tag, then that would reinforce to the search engine that "Star Wars collectibles" was an important theme on this page. Although no extra relevancy boost is given for including the keyword solely in the Meta tag, some engines may look to the Meta tag as a way to reinforce their belief that a page is relevant if all the other more important factors "check out" too.

In any case, including the tags are unlikely to hurt your rankings if you follow a few simple rules. Be careful not to repeat the same keyword more than two or three times in the tag. Never repeat the same word twice in a row or you may trigger a search.

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Why would I need a web site?

Creatinga website is similar to an artist with his painter's palette and oil paintA web page isn't something people "read", it is something they "experience" through colour, symbols, images, words and images. A company's Internet site isn't just an online brochure, it's an interactive, and "hands-on" look at the many facets of a business. Visiting your Web site should be the electronic equivalent of visiting your company in person.

 

 

Reasons for a website

  1. Customer Feedback

    It is the fastest, most reliable way to gather information about your customers' needs, desires, opinions and questions. This enables you to fine-tune your products, services and marketing efforts to concentrate on your target market.

  2. Canadians Want More Canadian Sites With Canadian Content

    40% of Canadians are unhappy with the availability and variety of Canadian services offered on the Internet. There are only a limited number of good Canadian sites and it is also difficult to find a lot of Canadian content. ("Is Canada The Wired, Internet Country We're Told It Is?", CanadaOne.com, Stewart MacDonald, March 2002).

  3. Networking Tool

    With reciprocal links to other businesses that compliment your site, networking maximizes exposure to your potential clients.

  4. Reach More Markets

    Every day more people are getting on the Internet. You can reach a large number of people across the globe for a relatively small cost and increase your visibility.

  5. Enhances Communication Wwith Customers

    By using E-mail links, you can provide your customers with a fast and cost effective way to communicate with you.

  6. Cost Effective

    More cost effective than yellow page advertising, mass mailings or surveys.

  7. 24 / 7

    Your website makes your message accessible to customers 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

  8. Branding

    Branding can be defined as "a name, term, symbol or design, or a combination of them, which is intended to signify the goods or services of one seller or group of sellers and to differentiate them from those of competitors." - Philip Kotler, marketing guru.

    The Internet can be a primary source for branding or be a place to emphasize your branding image. Branding is not about getting your targets to choose you over your competition. Branding is about getting your prospects to see you as the only solution to their problem.

  9. Competition

    You can keep up with your competitors.

  10. Information Distribution

    Provides global information distribution. Another opportunity to inform the world about your service or products.

Read the article, Do You Need A Website?, for more information about the benefits of having your business online.

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What makes a good brand?

Leaving your thumb print through brandingBranding is creating a consistent image of yourself and your business, just like a thumb print. In a broad sense, brands are personalities understood on an emotional level. People react to the MacDonalds, Coca Cola and the Levi brands at an emotional level first before they make practical decisions on price, functionality, etc. But successful brands must work on both the functional and emotional levels.

Functional? Objective, logical, practical. Effective brands communicate. People can recognize and recall them. And they stand out from the crowd.

Emotional? The intangible benefits - subjective, emotive, creative - that are felt or anticipated when a brand is recognized. Effective brands have personality. Presence. They're attractive. They add value.

"Healthy... pure... chemical free... Age old... aromatic flavour... elite" are some of the emotional values people associate with Olive Oil. A successful olive brand may incorporate some or all of these values. Your customers should associate their desired values, with your brand. The aim is to create a brand that starts on an emotional level, moves to practical understanding and then to action. Remember - Customers are often buying a brand just as much as they are buying a product.

For example, wine given as a gift, has to look a million dollars and have perceived value. A hand painted sign on the side of the road may be great for selling eggs but terrible for selling discount airline tickets.

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What are the characteristics of a good web site?

Creatinga website is similar to an artist with his painter's palette and oil paintThe key to successful marketing on the Internet is a professionally designed web site.

  1. Appearance

    An aesthetically appealing web site is what attracts and keeps a prospective customer's attention. It is a full colour statement of your business image. We can utilize your existing company logos or custom design new ones.

  2. Layout

    The reader needs to be able to access information quickly and easily. Improper layout and technical errors can cause the potential client to leave confused or frustrated. Quite simply, reading on the web is different than reading from printed materials, and this affects how web site text should be written. Below are some writing tips that address the differences.

    Tips for layout:

    • Less Text, Way Less Text

      Studies have shown that people read 25% slower on screen than on paper. Short sentences and small paragraphs make pages easier to read at this pace. If content is being adapted for the web from print materials, it should be pared down to about half as much text.

    • Make it Scannable

      Up to 79% of test users visually scan any new page they come across; only 16% read word-by-word. Split long pages into smaller sections wherever possible. Use section headings that clearly state the topic being discussed.

    • Consistency

      If several people will be contributing content, consider hiring a copywriter to edit for consistency of voice and style. A writer can also help bring focus to the project, and interpret information from an outside perspective.

    • Use the Inverted Pyramid

      The inverted pyramid is borrowed from the journalism style of writing. Using this structure, the most important or summary information should be at the top of the page (where it is visible without scrolling), and more detailed information is found further down the page. People will scroll to read content, but only if they first deem it to be relevant.

    • Choose Objective Language over "Marketese", avoid Clichés

      Opt for neutral descriptions, rather than subjective or boastful language. Credibility on the Web is important. Online, companies must work to earn the user's trust, which is rapidly lost if they use exaggerated claims or marketing lingo.

    • Simply, Say What You Do

      Within seconds, a web site should convey what it has to offer. Keep the front page informative and succinct. Say what the site or company does, in the simplest possible terms. Avoid useless splash pages and time-wasting animated intros.

    • Use Lists

      Bulleted or numbered lists slow down the scanning eye and draw attention to important points.

    • Keep it Current

      Any dated or time-sensitive information will need to be updated regularly. Plan ahead for future updates, and schedule time for it. Outdated information will hurt a site's credibility.

    • No Underlining

      Underlined text is associated with hyperlinks, and so underlining words for emphasis can be very confusing. Boldface or Italics may be used to highlight some key words or phrases, but should be used sparingly.

  3. Loading Time

    A quick loading website is a definite must! If a "web surfer" must wait forever for a web page to load, they will loose interest in the content and may look elsewhere.

  4. Marketing

    But what good is a website to your organization if no one knows that it exists. Our skilled Internet marketing team can provide results in the search engines, news groups and other practical forms of marketing. Each website has a unique market, targeting that market and acting on it is the key to a successful web venture.

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What is the process?

Stepping Stone ProcessSusan is passionate about bringing your vision to life through a collaborative process. Sue begins with careful planning, in depth consultation and frank conversation to make sure that your vision becomes the web vision from the very start. You will be involved in the step-by-step design process and Sue is dedicated to using terminology that you will understand and helping to clarify the complexities of the Internet for you.

Through her experience working with clients Susan has also noticed that often the experience of designing the website is a learning process for her clients. Working with Sue to convey the idea or vision that they have for their websites forces the client to 'get clear' on what they're trying to say or the image they want to portray.

Through this process of "birthing the website" Sue has noticed that as clients create the content and/or design of the website that often their initial vision of what they want changes too.

The following is a general overview of Sue Studios' web site development process. This process is not set in stone, but is a good starting point for any project.

  1. Discuss goals

    There are many ways a web site can help increase revenue and decrease costs. Some typical goals for web sites are: increase customer base, service existing customers, reduce paper catalogue printings and mailout costs, educate and inform customers, sell products online, provide product support, and/or deliver email newsletters.

  2. Decide on site content and structure

    With goals in place, it becomes clear what type of content should have priority. The content is given structure in the form of a sitemap, which is basically an outline, like the Table of Contents for a book.

  3. Develop design drafts

    After discussing design goals and concepts, the design draft stage is where the web site begins to visually take shape.

  4. Final design

    Once any necessary changes are made, the visual design is finalized.

  5. Programming of pages, testing

    The web site in-progress will be posted online at a private location (e.g. suestudios.com/yourproject), where it can be tested and reviewed in detail.

  6. Launch of site

    Prior to launch, site hosting will be set up. On launch day, the site will be uploaded to its domain name and be made "live".

  7. Search engine announcement

    Once the site is online, it will be announced to search engines. Some search engines will add the new site to their databases immediately, while some (such as Yahoo) may take some time and/or require a fee for guaranteed review.

  8. Maintenance

    Depending on the content, some web sites require more maintenance than others. External links must be checked regularly, and time-sensitive content should be changed often. Maintenance can be done on a regular schedule, or on an as-needed basis.

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I already have a web site/partially built site, can you fix it/finish it?

Probably. Depending on the state of the site, we can either make the alterations you require and improve it, or finish building it. You may also choose to have the site redesigned and rebuilt, using as much of the existing content/work as possible.

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