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7 Ways Design Templates Destroy Your Time, Resources and Business Reputation

"In this age, which believes that there is a short cut to everything, the greatest lesson to be learned is that the most difficult way is, in the long run, the easiest." Henry Miller

 

There are lots of website templates available for businesses to use, and programmers craft many of them with style rather than functionality in mind.

 

Website templates offer an affordable, simple solution for organizations with limited funding and time to invest. Modern businesses must have online representation. To meet these needs, most start-ups will turn to website templates.

 

However, Template Limitations Spoil the Final Product

 

How does this happen?

 

  1. Templates aren't flexible. Site owners aren't able to get creative without programming experience.
  2. Templates often hide clunky programming issues below the surface that cause slow loading and other problems.
  3. In order to meet basic business needs (like removing ads, having more freedom to customize, using SEO analytics and other marketing tools and securing a domain name and hosting), you have to pay more or get by without these things.
  4. Even the most beautiful template can look cheap after you've edited it. This is especially true if you choose to change several graphics or fonts. Most non-designers lack the talent to combine and create tastefully on web platforms. Colours look different. Sites display differently on various devices.
  5. Sometimes people recognize your template from other websites. It's hard to create a unique brand identity, (especially crucial for modern businesses) if users recognize your template from another site.
  6. Mobile devices are the most popular tool for browsing online today. Some companies advertise templates as responsive. However, many finished websites still don't look right on every device because they are not mobile friendly.
  7. Lastly, SEO is an important business marketing strategy. There are levels of tailoring that an SEO expert can do below the surface to enhance your online positioning. However, just like templates offer limited customization in visual areas, many won't offer your SEO expert the freedom he or she needs to customize your site for marketing.

Make the right choice now, so you're not forced to later.

 

Contact us today at REM Web Solutions. A custom website is worth the investment. Trust is essential for success in online sales and marketing, and at REM you can trust us to create a stunning, professional, custom designed website that will enhance your online presence. 

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Business Website Advice: How Often Should I Redesign My Website?

The Internet changes rapidly. There are many forces driving this such as the never-ending updates of the major search engines, the rising expectations that consumers have of online businesses, and major changes in how people access the Internet.

 

Styles evolve as well. It's very easy to discern websites that are decades out of date. Even the code used for building websites changes. Much of the old HTML code (HTML tags) commonplace in the 1990s is either deprecated or superseded by more useful forms. Keeping up with this change is important if you want your website to remain relevant and profitable.

 

Exactly how often you should redesign your website will depend on the market you serve. However, few competitive businesses allow more than a few years to go by without some kind of redesign. Here are three indicators that your website needs a redesign:

 

It Isn't Mobile Friendly

 

Most consumers today use their mobile devices for online purchasing and for locating nearby brick and mortar businesses. If they need to buy something, conduct business, or do research, they're not going to wait until they get home to their desktop computers (if they even have one). They also won't put in the effort and time of scrolling through a website meant solely for desktop computers when so many mobile friendly websites are just a few clicks away.

 

The Design Looks Out-Of-Date

 

An antiquated design sends the wrong impression to visitors. It projects obsolescence or amateurism. Visitors may assume the business lacks resources if it can't maintain a current looking website. People also get used to and even expect websites to reflect current design styles. For example, why would someone spend money at a site that's filled with the HTML tables of a 1990s website or the gradients and big glossy purchase buttons of the 2000s?

 

The Design Doesn't Reflect Your Current Success

 

If you still have the same website you first used as a Startup, you are leaving money on the table. Increase your leads and sales by reinvesting some of your profits into a more optimized and professional looking website. There is always room for improvement.

Get more out of your website by giving it a much-needed redesign. For more information or assistance, contact us today.

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3 Common DIY Website Mistakes

Tempted to save money by doing your web design yourself? Although skipping the services of a professional web designer may seem like an easy way to cut costs, the truth is that it will probably hurt you in the long run by producing a website that isn’t optimized for the highest possible conversion rate. Here are some common mistakes of DIY websites.

 

Bad Menu Structure

 

Menus are one of the most important parts of your website because they are what allow visitors to navigate your site and land on your important pages. However, a menu has to be optimized in order to work. It needs to be in just the right place, the menu option titles have to be unique, the pages need to be in the right order, the secondary menu needs to be visible but not in-your-face, etc. Your menu also needs to be optimized for mobile devices, where drop-down menus don’t work very well.

 

UX Mistakes

 

You want your visitors to have a pleasant user experience (UX). Common UX mistakes include lists that are split into many pages, a FAQs section where each question opens up on a new page, pop-ups and pop-unders that get in the way of the reader, too many ads, self-playing videos, too many sliders, etc. These are all things that get in the way of being able to navigate your site seamlessly.

 

Slow Load Times

 

There are many things that will slow down your website, including images and videos that aren’t optimized, ads that are served over a third-party server, and heavy page elements and scripts. Slow load times lead to higher bounce rates and fewer conversions. A professional web designer will be able to optimize your website so that it loads quickly.

 

If you would like to update your existing website, or are looking to create a new site, contact us. Our professional staff can help you create a site that is optimised, engaging and most of all give you the highest possible return on your investment.

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Photoshop Web Design Work Spaces

At REM, every design is custom and different. We ensure we design each website based on the unique needs and goals of our clients. We use the software, Adobe Photoshop to create our concepts and mock-ups. By using this every day, we have picked up quite a number of tricks that save time and boost our productivity. Having a pre-defined workspace also helps the designers at REM to keep our design files consistent.

 

Creating a workspace that is the most productive for web work is crucial when working on multiple design projects. Below are some steps I take to ensure productivity and quality in our custom web designs.

 

Document Set-Up

This is usually a pretty standard new PS document set at 2000 pixels wide. A blank canvas that has only some pre-defined guides and a set of common used layer groups.

 

Assets

In our world, our assets layer contains all of the styles that we want to pass on to the developer to add into the style sites sheet. These Assets are things like Paragraph and Heading Styles, Callouts, links and buttons.

 

Layers & Groups

Layers are key to organization. A pre-defined set of layers helps boost productivity while designing. My layers are usually set up in order of the design. Header, Logo, Navigation, Banner, Content, Footer, Background.

 

Colour Palette

Having a palette ensures that the colors used are consistent. Sometimes these are supplied through a brand guideline but most times these are created based on the projects existing branding/logo etc.

 

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Five Signs Your Website Is Letting You down and Needs Work

First impressions can mean the difference between a thriving or struggling business. People turned off by what they see or experience won't become customers. This is universal regardless of your location, be it Kitchener, Waterloo, Cambridge, Guelph, or anywhere else in the world.

 

A run-down building for example, will most certainly turn away customers. While this is, or should be obvious, the same applies to business websites. People won't do business if they feel uncomfortable, and a website that seems "off" will have this effect on your visitors.

 

Here are 5 signs your website needs work:

 

Missing Images

 

A website that has a missing-image icon conveys an impression of neglect. Multiple missing images leave the impression of a ghost town that "tells" people that nobody is home. Visitors aren't likely to purchase from such a site any more than they would from a store with broken windows. Missing images are either caused by missing image files or changed image file locations.

 

Broken Links

 

Broken links are online dead ends that usually lead to a 404 or not found error page. They give the impression of a non-functional website. Like the missing image, either the destination doesn't exist anymore, or its location (address) has changed.

 

Website Doesn't Render Properly on All the Popular Browsers

 

If you've only viewed your website through one or two web browsers, you may be in for a shock after viewing it in other popular web browsers. Parts of the site may not fit together, content or navigation bars may extend beyond the boundaries of a web page, and raw HTML code may show. In addition to making the site look rundown, some people may think the site is hacked or has malware. This can happen when using antiquated code or code that's too cutting-edge.

 

Average Visitor Stays Less Than 20 Seconds

 

When viewing your web stats, a high traffic figure means few if any visitors stay around long. The less time spent on your site, the less likely a visitor will convert into a customer. If most people won't stay longer than a few seconds on your website, something is driving them away. Before doing any more online marketing, you should get to the bottom of this issue.

 

Cookie Cutter Website

 

If too many websites are using the same template or theme as yours, you aren't visually differentiating your business from your competitors. Rather than being an interesting online destination, it will seem like just another generic website.

 

Make the most from your website by giving it a much-needed tune-up. For help with your web design, don't hesitate to get in touch with us.

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When Problems Happen

At REM, we take disaster recovery and backup very seriously.  We take great pride in the reputation we have built for reliable and safe hosting of our customers' information.

 

Disasters come in many forms and require different strategies to combat.  REM has implemented various safeguards and procedures to keep all of our assets and all of our customer assets safe.

We keep our production computer equipment in an access controlled data centre that is climate controlled, has redundant power supplies and multiple network feeds to virtually eliminate infrastructure downtime.

 

We continue the infrastructure safe guards by maintaining duplicate servers for all of our critical components that can be switched on in the event of an individual server failures.

 

We run nightly backups of databases and files that are stored onsite for up to 14 days and stored offsite in 2 different locations for up to 30 days.

 

We also take various snapshots throughout the year that become last resort “back to good” checkpoints that we keep offline to protect against threats that are undetectable and rare but can potentially take down entire organizations such as zero day malicious exploits.

 

We understand the importance of backups, but we understand that recovery trumps the importance of backups.  To that end, we perform multiple fire-drill style recovery exercises that put all hands-on deck to prove that REM’s various backups– do in fact – work in a recovery scenario.  We understand that “anything can happen” but we do our absolute best to make sure those options are limited and mitigated.

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AI

Artificial Intelligence, or commonly know as AI is an intelligence or conciousness achieved by a machine. The AI term is also applied when a machine makes a decision similar to our own human brain. For example, does a machine that can learn, have face recognition and even speech recognition artificially intelligent? If you answered yes, a good chance is that you are holding an AI machine in your own pocket. Our smartphones have become so advanced that the terms of what qualifies AI is loosely disappearing.

 

In the world of movies and television AI is portrayed as something we as humans need to be very careful with. I have always been interested in the idea of AI growing up with movies like, Short Circuit, Terminator, The Matrix and more recently with Ex Machina and the popular TV show Westworld. This HBO original series specifically had me thinking twice about some of the advances in technology and what we should consider.
 

Below is a trailer for HBO's Westworld. If you have not watched this show yet I highly recommend it.

 

 

 

 

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15 Shocking Statistics That Show the Effect of Mobile First on Your Business

Is it really that important to have a mobile responsive website? It sure is! Here are some mind-blowing statistics that will change your view on mobile traffic forever (sources: Hubspot, ImpactBND, & Skillcrush).

  1. Eighty percent of internet users own smartphones.
  2. Thirteen percent of adults access the web only via mobile.
  3. Mobile internet usage accounts for two out of every three minutes of all online usage.
  4. Tablet users have the highest add-to-cart rates (important if you have an e-commerce shop).
  5. People are addicted to their smartphones - over half of all smartphone users check their phones immediately upon awakening in the morning.
  6. Sixty-one percent of people won’t return to a site that was difficult to access on mobile. Forty percent will instead visit a competitor’s site.
  7. According to Marketing Land, mobile advertising will account for almost three-quarters of all digital ad spending by 2019.
  8. Ninety-one percent of smartphone owners say that being able to access online content on their phones is extremely important to them.
  9. Forty-eight percent of people ages 18-29 search the web on mobile every day.
  10. Fifty-seven percent of people won’t recommend a business if it has a website that isn’t optimized for mobile.
  11. Eighty-eight percent of people who search for a business on their smartphones contact that business within a day.
  12. Seventy percent of mobile searches lead to some sort of action within an hour.
  13. Seventy percent of smartphone users will immediately delete an email if it isn’t optimized for their device.
  14. Forty-eight percent of millennials only view videos on mobile devices.
  15. Eighty percent of people do online shopping on their phones.

As you can see, mobile first is important and will have a huge effect on your business. Visit our website for more information. 

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Why You Should Be Using Social Media Tools

Social media is crucial to your business’ marketing success. It can be a great source to bring traffic to your website. But it takes a lot of time and effort to maintain. Thankfully, there are many social media tools out there that can help you. If you’re still wondering what the benefits of social media tools are and how they help your marketing strategy, read on:

 

Save Time

 

Social media tools such as Buffer and Hootsuite help you consolidate your social media postings by being able to post on multiple accounts at once. You’ll no longer have to go from social media platform to the next posting on each one, with these tools you’ll be able to write your post once and post across several platforms.

 

Plan Ahead

 

With social media tools, you’ll be able to get an overview of all your past and future post. This helps you develop a social media calendar tied to your blog calendar, and plan your posts ahead to make sure you’re talking about all your company’s important topics.

 

Analyze Performance

 

Asides from saving time and planning ahead, social media tools will provide helpful analytics, such as your best performing posts, engagement and best time to post. You’ll see which posts people drove the most traffic to your website and what topics you should cover more. By analyzing your posts’ performance, you’ll be a social media rock star in no time.

 

Social media tools are a great asset to drive traffic to your website. But then it’s your website’s job to maintain your audience’s interest. Do you need a great website that gets noticed? Contact us today!

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Audio Compression (Part 2)

The way audio is stored on a CD (in a .wav file) is uncompressed. It is in a constant bitrate and always takes the same amount of storage space regardless of what audio is actually being stored. This is the reason that when you buy writable CDs they always state number of minutes of audio you can store on them (80 minutes for a typical 700MB disc). This means that if you have a 3 minute song file and a file that is just 3 minutes of silence they would take up the exact same amount of storage space (30 Megabytes).

 

Now let’s go back in time a bit to the turn of the century when ‘high-speed’ Internet wasn’t really something that everyone had, even if you did it was well under 1Mb/s (keep in mind that’s bits per second not bytes, a bit is 1/8 of a byte). Dial-up was the go-to for the majority of Internet users (at best 56Kb/s) so every bit of data you could save was crucial.

 

In 1999 the infamous Napster was released, the service that really kicked-off the music sharing era, but with a 3 minute song being a whopping 30 Megabytes a 56Kb connection would take at least 75 minutes while completely saturating your connection. That’s a long time for a single song.

 

Winamp + Napster (The go-to back in the day)

 

Now the .mp3 which was formally introduced back in 1993 now has a chance to spread its wings and begin its complete takeover as the de-facto standard in audio storage. The magic behind the .mp3 (and audio compression in general) is that it takes that original uncompressed file and using a complex algorithm, removes ‘unnecessary’ details that your brain wouldn’t really notice were missing.

 

 

Originally most files were encoded at 128Kb/s and at that level you could actually get a decent sounding file at a tiny fraction of the size of the original. Now that Internet speeds have drastically increased you would typically encode at 320Kb/s which is the highest bitrate that you can record an .mp3 at. Beyond that you run into the law of diminishing returns and it just isn’t worth it.

 

Now there is also something called ‘lossless’ compression. This is usually stored in the previously mentioned .flac (Free Lossless Audio Codec) format. A losslessly compressed file will still retain the exact quality of the original file but at a smaller file size. It does this by keeping all the sounds that exist in the recording but throwing away all the frequency’s that aren’t used. So, for example, if you record something like an audiobook where it is only the human voice, it would throw away everything outside of (roughly) 80-255Hz which is the typical frequency of human speech.

 

There is also another type of audio compression which is compression of dynamic range, but that’s a topic for another post…

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