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Why Do I Need a Web Designer? Comparing Custom Website Design vs. Templates

Entrepreneurs and business owners understand the importance of having a website. However, many ask themselves where they should begin. How do they compete while providing the best return on investment? Regardless, there are advantages and disadvantages to both custom website design vs. using templates.

 

The debate over using a custom website design or a template is very common. Obviously, there is no one-size-fits-all right answer. You must evaluate the advantages and disadvantages for each, and choose what is best for you. Here are some elements to consider.

 

Budget - We have all seen the commercials offering to get your business website designed for $1 or even free with a hosting plan. You can then build your website using a predefined layout and options. Initially, this looks much cheaper than custom website design. However, if you need changes, the cost to add functionality and usability can end up costing more in the long run.

 

Branding - When you choose a free or low-cost template design, it is common to expect restrictions, co-branding, or advertising conditions. Your website's main purposes are building your image and growing awareness. Custom website design gives you full control to highlight your company, products, and services.

 

User Experience - Website usability is extremely important. Visitors, leads, and customers must be able to easily navigate your site and find the information and products they need. Templates, while sometimes visually appealing, often miss the mark on usability. The user of your website must be able to easily learn their way around and achieve their goals.

 

Scalability - Templated website design is intended as a one-size-fits-all solution. While elements and plug-ins are often available, they can cause slower website reaction times. On a low traffic website, there is rarely a problem. However, a better option is forecasting future visitor growth and needed functionality.

 

What haven’t we covered yet that is important to you? If you would like to talk about the advantages and disadvantages of custom website design vs. templates, or need more information, please contact us.

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Does Your Website Help Your Business? 5 Signs Your Website Needs Work

You have a business in either Kitchener, Waterloo, Cambridge, or Guelph, and tried your hand at web design. Unfortunately, the website hasn't brought in new customers or increased sales. What went wrong? There's more to web design than merely building a website. Its design should reflect the fact that people will use it. You want their experience to be pleasant and convenient. For troubleshooting purposes, here are 5 signs your website needs work:

 

Your Website Loads Slowly

 

People have busy lives and they don't have the time to wait for slow loading web pages. The one advantage that print media has over many websites is that it only takes a second to turn a page. Too many web pages take longer than 5 or even 10 seconds to load. While some people will wait for a single slow loading page, they won't have any inclination to explore multiple slow loading pages. Two important factors affecting web page speed are its design and the server that hosts the website.

 

Your Website Isn't Search Engine Optimized

 

To get search engine traffic, your web pages should use keywords in the content, and in their titles. Keywords also help in your image descriptions. The URL of every page should contain legible words, some of which are keywords. You should also work in different but related keywords into your content.

 

Your Web Design Has Navigation Issues

 

Your navigation system should follow standard conventions so that people can navigate effortlessly without having to think too much. Place navigation links along the top and/or sides of each page. People should know exactly where they are and be only one click away from the home page. The navigation should be logical and make sense.

 

Your Web Design Doesn't Quickly Tell the Visitor What You're About

 

The visitor should know within a few seconds of landing on your website, what your business is about. Sometimes the name of your business makes this apparent. If not, your home page should have a simple statement near the top of the page that draws the eye. Don't leave this to a logo or picture.

 

Your Web Design Uses Harsh Colors and Difficult Font

 

A red background with blue font creates instant eyestrain. White or yellow font on black backgrounds also make for difficult viewing. There are many bad color combinations. Fortunately, you need only use black or gray font on a white background. Although there are other workable combinations, the conservative black/gray font on a white background will always work. Make sure the font type and size is easily legible.

 

If you require help with your web design, contact us. We design websites that improve business. REM Web Solutions serve Kitchener, Waterloo, Cambridge, Guelph, and surrounding areas.

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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 Should You Keep Your Website Up-To-Date? Here Are Three Reasons

A business website that's a static online brochure is an underused asset that "leaves money on the table" from missed opportunities. These are opportunities lost to more dynamic competing sites. To compete online today, you need a current website that reflects both your changes and those of your customers. Here are three reasons why you should keep your website up-to-date:

  1. Keeping your website up-to-date brings repeat visitors. Repeat visits increase both online and offline sales. Familiarity through repeated exposure to a brand is why companies spend so much money in advertising that repeats the same message again and again. Consumers often make choices based on familiarity with a company and its products. You can get the same effect from repeat visits to your website. However, if nothing changes on your site, there's no reason for coming back. One of the best ways of getting repeat traffic is making regular blog posts, which is easy to do with our WebWiz@rd tool.
  2. Keeping your website up-to-date makes your business competitive. Many consumers do comparison shopping across different websites. They are looking for better deals, attractive goods, and favorable shipping. When you are offering specials and discounts, announce them on your website and make these comparison shoppers your customers. You can increase your sales further by showcasing these products in an attractive photo gallery using our WebWiz@rd tool.
  3. Keeping your website up-to-date allows you to take advantage of current events. A heat wave is an opportunity for air conditioner sales. An impending blizzard increases sales of snow removal tools, flashlights, and batteries. Quickly place these high demand products front and center on your website with our WebWiz@rd tool.

If updating your website is difficult because you rely on a webmaster to make every change no matter how small, our WebWiz@rd content management system will solve this problem. It allows you, an employee, or any non-technical person to make quick changes. This saves both time and money. If this interests you, contact us today.

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How we do it? Part 2

This is a continuation from part one that talked about the creative brief process in our designs.  

 

After our design team, has reviewed the creative brief with our design team the begin the design process.  In a matter of days, the graphic designer provides an exciting look at the website concept and solicits early feedback from our clients.  This early feedback is unique to our process and is instrumental in designing the perfect website.  This feedback loop is repeated up to 4 more times.  To state it concisely, we allow up to 5 rounds of revisions per project. That’s more than any competitor we’re aware of.  We really want to make sure you love it before we build it!

 

Once a concept is approved by the client, the design files get send to our development team where all of the powerful WebWiz@rd components are attached by a dedicated developer. 

 

Every part of the project is tested during implementation by the developer and then double checked by your account manager.  A final check is performed between the completed product and the original agreement.  Once complete, the beautiful new website is held on our staging server and presented to our customer.  We call it a tour.

 

In conjunction with the tour, our technical support team will invite the entire client team in for training.  Training is designed to quickly demonstrate how the new tools work and to make it easy for our clients to make their own content changes in the future.

 

The new website remains on the staging server until the customer is ready show it to the world.  While on the staging server, the customer is free to modify their content, add new pages, transfer existing content from other sites, all while keeping their existing site up and running.

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Websites are more important now than ever before!

If you have just started a small business you have probably went through the traditional checklist of keys for your success such as, having a great product, a great staff, procuring the necessary licenses, and of course having the financial means to operate the next year. If you are really serious about your business taking off, you might have dug deeper and even took the time out to develop a strategic plan for growth, a marketing plan, and launched your social media accounts.

 

Out of all those crucial markers, however, one of the most important to have in 2016 is a great website for your business. Local businesses often overlook at a web site because they feel their customers already know them, but this is an extremely short-sighted view. The internet has expanded customer bases from those in cities like Kitchener, Waterloo, Cambridge and Guelph, to those in cities across the world. The way people look for products is heavily reliant on searching the internet so if you do not have a web presence, you are invisible to thousands of potential customers.

 

Another outdated belief that people still think of when considering developing a web site is that web design is a timely complicated process. This just simply is not the case anymore thanks to user-friendly web content management system's such as WebWiz@rd, a proprietary CMS designed by us here at REM Web Solutions. Many customers without any web experience in web design have found that managing a website is a simple process that will not occupy as much of their time they thought it would.

 

REM Web Solutions has made web design simple and actually quite fun once you allow yourself to get creative. If you ever are in Kitchener, you should stop by and meet the team yourself to learn more. 

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Why Should You Keep Your Website Up to Date?

A website represents who you are as a brand. For many of your current customers the first things they ever learned about your business was from your website content. Shouldn't your website represent the most relevant information available?

 

There is a lot of discussion online about content strategy and how businesses can leverage content to get new customers. The first place to start when considering content strategy is making sure your website information is consistently made up-to-date. Here are some reasons why this important.

 

Accurate Information Converts

 

Let's imagine last week someone had been researching online for a business like yours. They found your website and then sent you an email asking to make an order. Now, what would have happened if your website reflected an old outdated email address? Sure, your web design might look great, but inaccurate information like this is detrimental for conversions. You would be surprised how often mistakes like this happen. Your website needs to keep accurate phone numbers, fax numbers, office locations, etc. If your office just moved to Kitchener, Ontario you don't want it show your old addresses in Waterloo or Cambridge Guelph. Make sure you send new customers to the right place!

 

Up-to-date Content Is a Positive SEO Signal

 

SEO (Search Engine Optimization) is about improving your rankings in search engines like Google. Google wants to display websites for their users that have the best information available. That is fundamentally the goal of any search engine. A website that hasn't had any updates made to it in over a year will likely be stale. Google notices this. Google also notices websites that have regular updates, and favors these over old sites with little content. Freshly updated content is a clear sign of a healthy and growing business. 

 

It Isn't Difficult to Update Content Anymore

 

Gone are the days when business owners needed to learn complex web coding languages. There is a large variety of easy-to-learn web builders and content management systems (CMS). The space is competitive, ranging from cloud based drag-n-drop builders to open source e-commerce platforms. Although there are many options to choose from, each is quite different and excel in different areas. 

 

WebWiz@rd is REM’s proprietary CMS. WebWiz@rd focuses on a wide variety of features that work under one system. This makes it easy for you to cover a wide variety of verticals. After you get a CMS like this you can add a blog to your website, maybe a complex form, or e-commerce. It even includes an advertisement engine that can drive conversions on your website. With intuitive tools like this it is easy to see why you should keep your website up to date.

 

Get Your Message Out There 

 

Having up-to-date content is starting point for any successful content strategy. Your website is live 24/7, so make sure your message is fresh, relevant, and accurate. Accomplishing this has never been more important or easier to do.

So, go ahead and develop a cadence for yourself, and routinely update your website with new accurate material. When you do make sure to track your website activity through analytics. You will see the benefits.

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What are The Benefits of Social Media Tools for Your Website?

Your business website is designed to enhance awareness of your brand, garner sales, engage with your prospects, and showcase your products and services. Social Media tools go a long way toward accomplishing these goals. Here's how:

  1. Social media tools provide an easy way for prospects to connect with you. Those strategically placed, clickable icons on your page allow them to connect with you across all your social media channels - with one click of the mouse. 
  2. Social media tools make it easy for existing clients to share your expertise with potential clients. One of the most valuable social media buttons on your website is the one that says 'share' or 'forward'. Your clients can easily share blog posts, newsletter sign-ups. and other valuable content. Tweetables are another easy method of sharing insights and quotes right from your website.

  3. Social media tools are a great way to increase website traffic. These tools help direct people to your website, newsletter, blog, and service or product links. Social media should enhance, not detract from, your website.

  4. Social media tools increase your SEO rankings. Social media tools help increase your SEO rankings. This, in turn, increases your search engine rankings and drives traffic right back to your website.

Social media offers many valuable benefits to help grow your business, increase awareness of your brand and boost sales. Using them to learn more about your target market and engage with your audience is part of a strategic marketing plan.

 

Make the most of your social media tools and icons today and watch your business grow tomorrow. Contact us today to see how we can help.

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What I learned at REM

As a student in grade 9 at Sir. John. A. MacDonald secondary school, I have been given the opportunity to accompany my father to his place of work at REM Web Solutions. During my visit at REM today, I learned about what he does and how it’s done.

 

As the Customer Success Manager, he oversees Tier 1 support issues and WebWiz@rd training for all of REM’s customers.

 

While spending the day at REM I have learned a few things. I learned about WebWiz@rd modules, and how to use them. Within those modules I learned how to make banners for a website, how to edit the gallery as well as add images to it, and all about form builder. I learned how to add an administrator, and about file manager. Aside from modules I also learned about emails and how to deal with them and I learned about bug reports and how to file them. REM is an interesting place, that includes a foosball table, vintage video games, Frisbee, Bocce ball, a full kitchen, and an awesome and fun staff. After spending the work day here, it has opened my eyes to new possibilities for potential jobs in the future. It has been loads of fun and very educational, and wish to return in the future to learn a bit more about all of the other exciting positions here at REM.

 

Thanks to Rob Matlow the President of REM Web Solutions for allowing me to spend the day with him and his team.

 

Kyrie Hannigan ;)

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Four Reasons Why You Should Keep Your Website Up-to-date

So, you've created a great looking site for your business. Now what should you do with it? One of the most important things you can do is keep the information on your site current and up-to-date. This can sometimes be challenging because webmasters can charge for every single site change you make, and that can be hard on a business budget. However, we have eliminated that cost with our WebWiz@rd tool which allows you to easily modify your own content as many times as you wish. Here are four great reasons why having up-to-date content on your site is so important. 

 

1. Search Engine Optimization

 

Websites get ranked on search engines like Google and Bing; and as a business owner, you want to be in one of the top spots in the search results when a customer is looking for you. A great way to help your website get ranked higher is to add content regularly. This helps tell search engines that you have an active and relevant site that has not been abandoned. 

 

2. Site hits

 

Customers visiting your site expect good, current information. If they visit and find that the information provided is outdated or obsolete, they will cross your site off their mental list of websites worth visiting. This means less hits for your business. Since being visible to more people across the web was one of the reasons you created a business website to begin with, loosing those people to outdated content would not be a good outcome. 

 

3. Easy way to get new information to the customer

 

Another reason it is important to keep your website content up-to-date is that it's a very easy and practical way to get new information about your business to your customers. If you are marketing a new product or service, you're changing locations, you are offering a promotion, or you simply have news to share about your business; so, you put it on your site. This is especially easy to do with our WebWiz@rd tool because you can change your site in a matter of minutes, and you can do it as many times as you like. So, if you have something new going on at your business, your website is the best way to reach lots of customers with the information. 

 

4. Boost sales

 

Keeping the information on your site up-to-date, particularly on an eCommerce website, means the possibility of increased sales. Customers are more likely to trust a business with current and relevant information. They feel more comfortable sharing personal information and spending their hard-earned money with a company that takes the time to be current with its content. 

 

Updating your website's content is quick and easy with our WebWiz@rd tool, and it's an important step in maintaining a useful business website. Up-to-date content means higher search rankings and happy customers.

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Contributors

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Matt Stern
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March 22, 2017
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Rob Matlow
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March 20, 2017
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Todd Hannigan
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March 15, 2017
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Sean Sanderson
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Christine Alon
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Sean McParland
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January 23, 2017
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Shauna Ramsaroop
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Ryan Covert
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