Client Education

  • control your web assets - smartguysdesign.com
    Your Website: Your Front Door and a Digital Asset Your Website: Your Front Door and a Digital Asset

    Your Website: Your Front Door and a Digital Asset

Your Website: Your Front Door and a Digital Asset

As I interact with people about their website, I am constantly amazed by how many still do not understand the real value of a website as both a digital asset and as the “front door” of their business presence online. What’s further perplexing is why so many folks don’t wish to take ownership of these assets for themselves.

Many people believe that by simply having a strong referral base or Facebook presence, or by being listed on directories such as UrbanSpoon or Yelp, that they’re doing “enough” in having their digital presence established.

Unfortunately, this couldn’t be further from the truth. Although Facebook, UrbanSpoon, Yelp, etc. have large user bases and are indeed a valuable way for people to find you (and should of course be maintained, nourished and preserved), these companies unfortunately have complete ownership over whatever content you post, and are subject to changing Internet trends.

It wasn’t long ago that the Internet landscape was dominated by

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    Why You Need Managed Website Hosting Why You Need Managed Website Hosting

    Why You Need Managed Website Hosting

Why You Need Managed Website Hosting

The media has done a great service recently by highlighting some critical vulnerabilities in the world of website hosting. First there was Heartbleed, a bug in OpenSSL that can expose a servers’ private keys and compromise the encryption used to protect online transactions. Then came Shellshock which allows an attacker to remotely gain access to a computer system. The big news today was an SQL Injection in Drupal, an extremely critical vulnerability that gives an attacker total control over websites running Drupal version 7.0 to 7.31.

My goal with this post is not to make you panic, but to show you that unless you are actively monitoring the security landscape and applying new information to your environment, your online presence is at risk. If not today, then tomorrow, or some time in the near future. With Shellshock we saw how large the attack surface could be, potentially affecting everything from […]

By |August 16th, 2014|Client Education|Comments Off
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    Where Is Your Web Designer? Where Is Your Web Designer?

    Where Is Your Web Designer?

Where Is Your Web Designer?

Do you find it increasingly difficult to reach your website designer? Are they frequently unavailable, not returning your calls and emails?

You’re not alone!

It never ceases to amaze me how some other website developers seemingly have no problem abandoning their clients! But don’t worry…

We can help!

We have rescued numerous businesses from a case of ‘missing website guy’ (or gal). All SmartGys Design clients enjoy prompt, professional service from our experienced team.

Website Migration Path

  • checklist
    Free Website Evaluation Free Website Evaluation

    Free Website Evaluation

Free Website Evaluation

Are you dissatisfied with your current website? Does your website run slow or look like it was designed in 1999? Or perhaps you have a great website, but no visitors (traffic) to it… Well, we can help! Complete our 5-minute form for a FREE Website Evaluation.

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    Backups – What Smart companies are doing Backups – What Smart companies are doing

    Backups – What Smart companies are doing

Backups – What Smart companies are doing

This post is the first of a new series entitled “What Smart companies are doing”.

I recently worked with a client who is the regional manager for a national staffing service. They were using a single consumer-grade PC to send and receive email and store all of their important documents. The problem started with the computer acting strange and running slow. By the time I got involved, it had reached the point of no return. The hard drive failed, and all of their data was lost. I advised them of their options, which, at this point, there was only one — send the drive to a data recovery specialist at a cost of anywhere from $500 to $2000. Needless to say, the client wasn’t happy.

Which brings me to the point of this article — does your business have a backup system in place to safeguard your important data? If not, you need one! If you already have a backups, have […]

  • Apple-Outage
    The Website Downtime Guide The Website Downtime Guide

    The Website Downtime Guide

The Website Downtime Guide

We recognize the vital role of your company website. We understand the importance of having rock-solid website hosting, because —let’s face it— if customers can’t get to your website, they will go back to Google and find another business whose website is working; that’s lost opportunity.

We help businesses keep their customers happy by monitoring, identifying and correcting website hosting problems. All of our new websites are hosted on private servers at our state-of-the-art datacenter, located adjacent to the Chicago Board of Trade in downtown Chicago. We also have in place high-security rulesets and automation to detect and mitigate security threats, before they can affect our client websites.

To help illustrate the importance of addressing website hosting issues, we’d like to share the following infographic from our friends at KISSmetrics.

website-downtime-survival-guide

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    Signs and Symptoms of Bad Web Design Signs and Symptoms of Bad Web Design

    Signs and Symptoms of Bad Web Design

Signs and Symptoms of Bad Web Design

There are no doubt a great number of talented and skilled web professionals out there. It would be a lie for us at SmartGuys Design to say that we don’t have some really great competition! Many of whom have greatly inspired us and left their creative impact on the web! But there are without a doubt a lot of bad web designers out there whom just aren’t thinking artistically or in regards for coding semantics and whom are truly creating Bad Design.

We at SmartGuys Design want to draw attention to a few of the red flags that we’ve seen in the web design world that will hopefully help you avoid the signs and symptoms of a bad web design.

 

  1. Pixelation.

    Nothing bugs us more than seeing pixelated images. A web designer’s job is to understand how to use scale and understandings of resolution for images going onto a web page. Images that are scaled up beyond their ideal viewing resolution […]

  • Google Apps
    What are Google Apps and how can they help my business? What are Google Apps and how can they help my business?

    What are Google Apps and how can they help my business?

What are Google Apps and how can they help my business?

Google Apps is a suite of applications for small businesses. For larger businesses, Google has an additional offering that includes more features such as email archiving and discovery (compliance).

You might have used the free Google Apps that are included for all Gmail users, such as Google Docs, which offers tools for word processing, spreadsheets, presentations, and more. Also available are tools like Google Contacts for sharing contacts within your organization, and Google Drive for cloud-storage and sharing of files.

Google Apps are a great way to improve productivity and enhance your workflow, and all are backed by Google Apps support team. Of course, we at SmartGuys Design are always available to assist our customers with not only Google Apps but anything else web-related, so contact us today for a few consultation to see how your business can benefit from new tools like Google Apps.

  • Email Marketing
    What is “email marketing” and how can a email-based newsletter help my business? What is “email marketing” and how can a email-based newsletter help my business?

    What is “email marketing” and how can a email-based newsletter help my business?

What is “email marketing” and how can a email-based newsletter help my business?

An effective email marketing campaign can be crucial for engaging customers and driving repeat business.

You’ve probably received email newsletters from online stores at which you’ve shopped in the past, business acquaintances, etc. You know what they are. But do you know all they are capable of?

Good email marketing platforms have the ability to track which users open an email newsletter, what type of device they used to read the email (ex. Outlook 2007 on Windows, iPhone with iOS version 6.0, etc.), which if any links they clicked, and much more. This type of information can be very useful in tailoring an effective email marketing campaign. Email newsletters encourage repeat visits and repeat business. They drive visitors to your website — visitors you know have a connection to and interest in your business.

Contact SmartGuys Design today for a free, no-obligation proposal for an email marketing campaign for your business.

  • Gain Exposure
    What’s the best way to gain exposure to my website? What’s the best way to gain exposure to my website?

    What’s the best way to gain exposure to my website?

What’s the best way to gain exposure to my website?

We advocate a multifaceted approach that involves:

  • Regular updates to your website, as search engines use the “freshness” of a website in determining rank. We can help with this by updating your website with content you provide. We can also help write content for your website.
  • A well-thought SEO strategy. This first means making sure your website conforms to SEO “best practices”. The next step is backlinking, which involves listing your website in online directories, search portals, etc.
  • Results-driven PPC (Pay-Per-Click) online advertising campaigns to supplement the SEO strategy.

During this process, we track the effectiveness of our efforts and adjust the strategy accordingly to provide you with the most cost-effective means of promoting your website.

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    What is Google Analytics? What is Google Analytics?

    What is Google Analytics?

What is Google Analytics?

Google Analytics is a metrics system developed by Google that enables users to view information about their website. Google provides a very complex and comprehensive suite of tools for the Analytics user:

  • Analysis Tools. Google provides an easy to use reporting platform, so you can decide what data you want to view and customize your reports.
  • Content Analytics. Content reports help you understand which parts of your website are performing well and which pages are most popular so you can create a better experience for your customers
  • Social Analytics. Google can measure the success of your social media programs. You can analyze how vistors interact with sharing features and engage your content across social platforms.
  • Mobile Analytics. Google Analytics helps you measure the impact of mobile on your business.
  • Conversion Analytics. Find out how many customers you’re attracting, how much you’re selling and how users are engaging with your site with a range of analysis features.
  • Advertising Analytics. Make the most of your advertising […]
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    What is a domain, how much do they cost and how long do I own it? What is a domain, how much do they cost and how long do I own it?

    What is a domain, how much do they cost and how long do I own it?

What is a domain, how much do they cost and how long do I own it?

A domain is the term used for the website address of your website. For example, “www.google.com“, is the domain name for Google.

The ending of a domain is called the “TLD”, or “Top Level Domain“. There are many different TLD’s, including the old favorites ‘.com’, ‘.net’ and ‘.org’, as well as new TLD’s like .info and .tv.

You can check on the status of a domain to see whether it’s already been registered by using a “WHOIS” tool. We recommend whois.sc

The cost to register a ‘.com’ domain for 1 year is typically about $10. You can also register a domain for a longer term to save money.

Typically we take care of all of this for you. If you are in need of a new website we’ll help you develop domain ideas. If you’re hosting with us, we usually register it for you and take care of all of the domain management so you don’t have […]

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    What is a ‘DNS’ Server and what does this have to do with my domain? What is a ‘DNS’ Server and what does this have to do with my domain?

    What is a ‘DNS’ Server and what does this have to do with my domain?

What is a ‘DNS’ Server and what does this have to do with my domain?

DNS stands for Domain Name System. Every website you visit has a unique IP address assigned to it. A DNS server simply turns the domain name into the IP address so your computer can connect to the website. Every domain name requires a DNS server, but luckily for our clients, SmartGuys Design manages all aspects of website hosting, including a DNS server. In fact, we have three DNS servers, in case one (or two) are unavailable, meaning a more reliable website for your business.

What is PPC (Pay-Per-Click) advertising?

PPC, or Pay-Per-Click, is a form of online advertising. You’ve probably seen “Sponsored Results” when searching on Google, Bing, Yahoo!, etc.

PPC Infographic

It costs you nothing to appear in these sponsored results. Only when a person clicks on your ad. are you charged (hence the term, “Pay-Per-Click”). The cost per click is typically set in a bidding process, where the highest per-click bid gets the #1 spot in the sponsored results.

PPC can be highly effective, as it gives you the ability to appear at the top of any search, including searches for your competitors! You can set daily/weekly/monthly budgets for individual search terms, and also by geographic area.

Here are some questions to get you thinking about PPC:

  • What would be your daily/monthly PPC budget?
  • What search terms are your potential customers might use to find you or your competition?
  • What geographic areas would you like to target?

When it comes to PPC, “the sky […]

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    What is a “CMS”, or, a “Content Management System”? What is a “CMS”, or, a “Content Management System”?

    What is a “CMS”, or, a “Content Management System”?

What is a “CMS”, or, a “Content Management System”?

A CMS or Content Management System is a software system that allows users to publish, edit, and modify content on a website. Different Content Management Systems have different features and capabilities. At SmartGuys Design, we primarily use the WordPress CMS. WordPress is great for our clients because it allows them to easily make changes and additions to their websites, without the need to hire us every time the content needs to be changed. While we always stand-behind the websites we build and are happy to help our clients make any changes the need, WordPress gives each client the flexibility to make immediate changes to their website when it’s convenient. Using WordPress, we can also create a structured system with different permissions for different users. Your sales staff can have access to edit the sales pages of your website, while your technical support staff can have access to edit the support pages. Executives can be granted access to edit any […]

  • datacenter_ragingwire
    When my website is hosted with SmartGuys Design, what are the basic services provided? When my website is hosted with SmartGuys Design, what are the basic services provided?

    When my website is hosted with SmartGuys Design, what are the basic services provided?

When my website is hosted with SmartGuys Design, what are the basic services provided?

Among other things, our website design clients enjoy the following features included in all of our hosting packages:

  • 24/7 website uptime monitoring
  • Google Analytics (visitor tracking) access & monthly reports
  • Automated weekly backups
  • Priority support for all website hosting customers
  • stack_of_papers
    What will you need from me during the website building process? What will you need from me during the website building process?

    What will you need from me during the website building process?

What will you need from me during the website building process?

While all projects are different, typical requirements for new website clients include:

  • Your logo in high-resolution/vector format if available
  • Page content & copy text
  • Conversion goals for website visitors (i.e. what is the purpose of your website?)
  • A designated contact person who will be responsible for working with us to locate and obtain all project requirements
  • Accurate contact information to be used on the website
  • Photos and images you’d like incorporated on the new website
  • If an e-commerce component is required, merchant/payment processing and billing information
  • Fast and Furious
    How fast can you build a website? How fast can you build a website?

    How fast can you build a website?

How fast can you build a website?

The question should not be “How fast can you build a website?”; it should be “How long does it take to build a great website that will last for years?”. We will always take the time to do the job right. Different businesses have different needs, and there is no “one size fits all” approach to developing an effective website. Contact SmartGuys Design today for a free, individual website design proposal that fits your unique needs.

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    What is “Spec Work”? What is “Spec Work”?

    What is “Spec Work”?

What is “Spec Work”?

“Spec” work is an industry term to describe work done on spec; that is, without a guarantee of payment. We do not do spec work! You may find other designers that offer to build you a website with no up-front payment. When you find those services being offered, you can be sure that the work is sub-par, as the paying customers must subsidize the cost of doing spec work for the prospects who never agree to pay. When you hire SmartGuys Design, you can rest assured that your project will get our full attention, and not be taken away from by spec work for other prospective clients. Our No Spec Work policy ensures that our clients receive the best possible service for the lowest possible price.

  • MeetingConferencesDetailHeader1
    What can I expect for my first meeting with SmartGuys Design? What can I expect for my first meeting with SmartGuys Design?

    What can I expect for my first meeting with SmartGuys Design?

What can I expect for my first meeting with SmartGuys Design?

Our first meeting will primarily focus on learning about you and your business. In order to build the best possible website, we must first understand what information your typical customers are seeking from your website. We will then create a list of objectives for your new website. We will revisit these many times throughout the process, so you’ll end up with a website built with your customers in mind.

At our first meeting, we will likely start the requirement gathering process. During this stage we’ll ask you for your logo files, artwork and any additional content you may have. We’ll develop a list of other resources and content we may need.

Finally, we will work with you to develop attainable goals and a strategy for measuring the performance of your new website. We will also determine a project schedule and deadlines, both for us, and for you. We rely on your timely feedback to complete your project on-time and within your […]

  • choosing-a-web-designer
    When hiring a web designer what should I look for and what should I try and avoid? When hiring a web designer what should I look for and what should I try and avoid?

    When hiring a web designer what should I look for and what should I try and avoid?

When hiring a web designer what should I look for and what should I try and avoid?

Hiring a web designer is an important decision. These people will be trusted with your most valuable asset: your business’s online representation. They are the ones building and crafting your virtual brick-and-mortar, choosing the colors and shapes to go on the walls, and effecting the opinions of your visitors. Not to mention, through the website building process, your designer gains inside-information about your business itself.

We at SmartGuys Design work to truly understand the importance of this position. We believe in trust and respect; we respect your privacy by keeping your information entirely confidential. Secondly, we want you to look your best, we want you to be proud of your website, and we want you to be happy about our services. It doesn’t make us feel very good if you don’t like your website and are disappointed. Thus we work to deliver our absolute best.

When hiring a web designer here’s what you really ought to be asking:

Can my web […]