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It's 2019 at the time of this writing. Fortnite has taken the gaming world by storm over the past year or so. Every parent has been begged and pleaded with by their children to purchase a modern console gaming system so that they can become sweaty try hards.

 

Then it happens. Those same children are watching YouTube personalities and streamers alike who push PC hardware as the next-level in the Fortnite madness. The begging and pleading is revived. This time, those same parents don't know where to start and may not have the funds to dump into a high-level gaming PC.

 

Socket 775 To The Rescue

 

As of June 2019, I have successfully built four Fortnite-worthy gaming PCs using hardware dated as far back as 12 years old. It wasn't difficult, but finding DDR2 RAM for older PCs is tricky, and I will throw in some more "modern" suggestions at the end of this blog for those having the same problem.

 

The secret to my success has been in the procurement of used Socket 775 motherboards and CPUs that used to fetch top dollar when they were new. Socket 775 motherboards are now in the range of $30-$60 on eBay. A magnificent Core 2 Quad Q9650 CPU, which was considered the cream of the crop in 2008, can now be coupled with those motherboards for a meer $65 on eBay as well. You'll also want a minimum of 6 GB of RAM, but 8 GB of RAM is ideal. You can get by with 4 GB, but your OS will be starved for resources and you will experience in-game hitching or stuttering as your computer continuously fights to balance your operating system's memory requirements with those of the game.

 

Next, you need to find a GPU with enough horsepower to run modern PC games at a decent framerate. While I have managed to run Fortnite at 60 fps on a GeForce GTX 560 ti, I would suggest purchasing a GPU with at least support for the latest nVidia or AMD drivers. I suggest trying to find one of these cards within your budget on eBay, Kijiji, Craig's List, or similar:

 

  • GeForce GTX 760
  • GeForce GTX 960
  • GeForce GTX 1050 ti
  • AMD R9 290X
  • AMD R9 380
  • AMD RX 480
  • AMD RX 570

 

There are many different combinations of these cards, with varying amounts of video RAM typically listed as "GDDR". Generally speaking, the more RAM you have, the better experience you will have. However, in my testing, the older GTX 760 with 2 GB of GDDR3 RAM provides plenty of speed to drive 60 fps gaming on Medium quality settings in Fortnite at resolutions up to 1920x1080. Considering this is running on a 12 year old PC, this is mind blowing.

 

For those interested in doing this themselves, here are some additional links to help you out:

 

  • CPU-Z
    Determine the exact motherboard make and model you're running, along with the type and configuration of RAM you have installed. This helps you determine what upgrades are available for your existing hardware.
     
  • Core i3 based PCs
    These machines are a great example of a complete system (lacking a dedicated graphics card / GPU) that have plenty of power to run modern PC games for thousands of hours of enjoyment. They typically use DDR3 RAM, which is much cheaper than the older DDR2 variant mentioned above due to supply and demand.

 

Feel free to drop your questions in the comments below if you'd like more information.

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This is a headshot of Brad Anderson.

Many business owners are tempted to cut costs by handling web design in-house. However, DIY web design is usually not the best option. Your company's website is an important marketing asset, and building it yourself creates opportunities to make mistakes that can hurt your bottom line. One common mistake of DIY websites is designing a site that is not responsive. Here's why responsive web design is important.

 

Faster Speeds and Improved Search Rankings

 

Users expect web pages to load right away, especially on mobile devices. Also, Google considers page loading speeds when ranking results. By ensuring that your website is responsive, you'll deliver a better experience to your customers, and your site will rank higher in search.

 

Lower Bounce Rates

 

Your site's bounce rate is the number of times users view only a single page and then click away. Users are more likely to engage and explore your website if it's mobile-friendly. If your site isn't responsive, users are more likely to become frustrated and bounce. In fact, if your mobile site loads in under five seconds, the average viewing session is 70% longer than for slower sites.  

 

Higher Conversions

 

Even if your visitors do stick around, they don't want to be redirected to a separate, mobile-friendly site to complete a purchase or subscribe to an e-mail list. A responsive design will lower bounce rates and lead to more conversions.

 

Avoid Duplicate Content

 

In the past, it was common for companies to have two versions of their websites: a desktop site and a mobile site. When you create two website versions, Google may view them as two sites that contain the same content, which can adversely affect SEO. A responsive design eliminates this possibility since the same website can be viewed on any device.

 

For assistance with your website design and development, contact us now.

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This is a headshot of Brad Anderson.

Every business would love to do a website on their own to cut on overheads and to customize it to their liking. This is not a bad idea if you know how to navigate the murky waters of "look and feel" and the technicalities of, say SEO, CRO and responsiveness, though you know that not everyone is an  expert in every area of human endeavor. Here are five reasons why you should let a professional do your website:

 

There could be pitfalls

 

While DIY templates can be fun and hassle-free to work with, they might lead you into blocks and barriers initially unforeseen. On a bad day for example a client might call you with claims that your site has refused to load on their phones or that they cannot see where to click to submit the form. Such a situation would be difficult to deal with because of your little UX/UI knowledge base.

 

Uniqueness is vital

 

You want to stand out in the crowd. Assuming you intend to get a Webwizard template to do a website to use for your upcoming campaign to launch a new product. You could be in a hurry to catch up with time and might not do the due diligence to pick out a theme you might consider "rarely used" and are likely to come out with just another website.

 

Optimize for Lead Generation

 

Think more on conversion than prettiness. Well, templates are very good and convenient to work with if the designer is a little bit more conversion-minded and is ready to put in the extra hours to tweak it to near-perfection. You don't want to end up with a website that looks beautiful but cannot drive sales for your business.

 

They could encourage slackness

 

The temptation to do it once and get it done with is always lurking somewhere in the shadows. You may not be in a position to tell, for example, why your site is displaying overlapping content and how to correct that error. Working with templates on your own might get you into this trap.

 

Way forward

 

Consulting a Web Developer comes with numerous advantages. They will, in most cases, be available whenever something on your site is not working right. But the most important benefit is their capabilities in tweaking your site to work optimally on every device and capture the attention of visitors. It is only prudent that before getting to do it on your own, you should think through your decision and seek the counsel and guidance of a professional web developer  in order to escape the dangers of template 'Do It Yourself'.

 

Please contact us.

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This is a headshot of Brad Anderson.

Billions of people enjoy internet access on a daily basis and many simply take for granted the ability to access it. With a simple touch of a fingertip or a short voice command, most individuals have access to what essentially amounts to a limitless supply of information, products and services from all over the world. It's quite obvious with the phenomenal growth of technologies such as the internet of things, artificial intelligence, etc., that not only is the internet here to stay, it clearly is going to increasingly become a key factor in everyone's daily lifestyle.

 

It Could Happen to Anyone

 

Imagine for a moment, if through some type of accident or illness, a person becomes unable to interact with such an essential part of daily life as the internet. Along with those born with some type of disability, this is what some individuals face on a daily basis.

In some cases, growing voice technologies such as "Hey Siri" or "Ok Google" may be able to vastly improve the quality of life for those dealing with a disability. Still, there is more that companies can (and must) do if they want their web presence to be compliant with laws such as the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act or AODA.

 

Reaching out to More Audiences

 

Companies spend billions trying to reach new audiences in order to market their products and/or services. Countless studies are conducted to learn more about demographics, niche groups, and more. In fact, it can be said that anyone with a web presence, in some way has something to sell. Companies who overlook the fact that disabled individuals also need products, services and information, are only doing themselves a disservice by missing out on a key market.

 

What to Do 

 

Ensuring a company's web presence is within reach of the disabled may mean the use of different methods other than SEO, etc., but in comparison to reaching out to any other target group, it doesn't necessarily take an extraordinarily amount of additional resources to make a website disabled-ready. When companies search for web designers to create and/or maintain their web presence, they simply need to ensure that their choice of designer is aware that their company has 50 or more employees. They then will price and build the site in such as way as to comply with laws such as the AODA.

 

Many companies are already aware of compliance laws with regards to people with disabilities and they already know there are different requirements for different-sized companies. Specifically, those companies with 50 or more employees must make all websites and web content accessible to the disabled by January 1, 2021.   

 

If you would like to know more about AODA and how to ensure your web presence is in compliance, please contact us.

 

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Statistically speaking, you are probably using Google Chrome to read this blog post. While Chrome is a great browser that makes using the Internet fast and safe, it isn’t the only horse in the race. Google recently announced changes that will be coming to Chrome later this year that may affect how third-party browser extentions work, namely ad-blocking extentions like uBlock Origin.

 


"The proposal–dubbed Manifest V3–will see a major transformation to Chrome extensions that includes a revamp of the permissions system. It will mean modern ad blockers such as uBlock Origin—which uses Chrome’s webRequest API to block ads before they’re downloaded–won’t work."

- Forbes.com


 

Google's core business is advertising. This means that content blocking extentions such as uBlock Origin directly conflict with their primary business. Until now, Google had no choice but to allow content-blocking extentions in order to gain browser market-share. Now that roughly 2/3 of all internet users utilize Chrome as their main browser, it appears Google may be tightening their grip.

 

If these changes do end up affecting a person's ability to experience the web in the way they want, it may be time to look at alternative browsers. One of the great things about Chrome is that it is based on an open-source browser engine named Chromium which is available for anyone to use. Last year, Microsoft announced that they are re-building their Edge browser around Chromium. It is currently available for download in a preview state and, as it is Chromium at its core, it supports using Chrome extentions.

 

 

Microsoft Edge Chromium Preview Screenshot

Microsoft Edge Chromium Preview Screenshot

 

Another notable browser that utilizes the Chromium browser engine is known as Brave. Brave has content-blocking and privacy features built in that don't require additional extentions. And of course there is the newly re-designed Firefox from Mozilla which runs on its own Geko browser engine.

 

It might be time to try one of the Chromium-based browsers like the new Edge or Brave or something a little different like Mozilla's Firefox. Feel free to let us know in the comment section which browser you're most fond of and why you chose it.

 

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This is a headshot of Brad Anderson.

Small business owners are typically very busy running their own organization. However, even for busy small business leaders it would be difficult not to notice that voice-activated searching, both on mobile devices as well as "smart" homes devices, is becoming more and more popular. Those businesses who still think a desktop web presence is enough to garner ample interest in their organization need to take a second look at what is happening around them, or they risk getting left behind by emerging technologies.

 

Still not Mobile?

 

Any business in 2019 that does not have a web presence optimized for mobile devices will find themselves among the very few. Lagging behind the vast majority who have caught on that mobile is now the norm, is not a good place for anyone who hopes to succeed above their competitors. If they have not already done so, 2019 is the year for stragglers to commit to optimizing their web presence for mobile.

 

Emerging Technologies

 

Millions of individuals now heavily rely on voice commands to drive their activity on traditional devices such as smart phones and tablets. With voice activation of these devices now also very popular by way of Bluetooth-assisted vehicles, potential customers are changing the way they interact with the companies they want to do business with. One simple walk through a big box electronics store also reveals that smart home devices are becoming increasingly popular and are poised to add an entirely new way in which users surf the web.

 

Voice is the new Mobile 

 

A few years ago mobile web design was a newer concept. Now it is a mainstream concept with voice-activated smart devices coming up from behind -- within a few years, smart home devices may very well take the lead. Businesses who hope to continue to garner attention, must ensure their web presence is optimized for the changing way in which users will interact with the web. Namely, voice searches using natural language rather than cryptic fingertip searches.

 

If you would like to know how voice and mobile concepts are going to change the future of the world wide web, please contact us!

 

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This is a headshot of Brad Anderson.

 

Do you own a mobile website that registers a few or no conversions? The problem could be a design error done by your mobile webmaster.

 

One of the issues that deny websites business is the failure to make them mobile-friendly. Experienced web designers develop mobile-optimized sites that ensure easy access using various devices and management.

 

Apart from enhancing performance, there are several tweaks you can apply on your mobile website to convert visitors to customers. Consider the following tips.

 

1. Work on Site Navigation

 

A website that is hard to navigate can repel your business prospects. Customers will not struggle with traversing the site if they can find other straight forward websites.

 

Design uncluttered pages that display products and their descriptions clearly. Your CTA must also be prominent and straight to the point.

 

2. Avoid Autoplay Media Files

 

Nothing irritates mobile users that pop-up videos and animations which play automatically. They block their view and give them a hard time navigating the website.

 

The next thing you expect from an annoyed visitor is leaving before placing an order. If you have a mobile website, removing such pop-ups can help you attract and maintain an audience.

 

3. Include Different Payment Options

 

As a business owner, you shouldn't limit your customers to specific payment methods. If you don't accept your client's preferred option, you are likely to lose business. Diversify to allow all customers to pay with ease.

 

4. Offer an Express Checkout Method

 

Baymard Institute study showed that 34% of people abandon shopping carts for being asked to create accounts. Another 26% blamed a complicated process.

 

To avoid losing customers like this, let the checkout page have only the necessary fields. Ensure that the total cost is clear and don't demand users to create accounts.

 

Conclusion

 

As internet users keep changing their behaviors, businesses have to keep adjusting. You have to tweak your mobile site for continued lead generation and sales closure.

 

If you are having trouble developing a reliable business website, contact us today for help.

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This is a headshot of Brad Anderson.

 

 

Having a mobile-friendly website is more important than ever. The number of mobile users is expected to reach around 2.5 billion in 2019. Google now uses the mobile versions of webpages for indexing and ranking. Google's mobile-first approach considers page speed as a ranking factor in mobile search results. These tips will help you improve your page speeds.  

 

Reduce the File Size of Images

 

Loading images is one of the most demanding activities when it comes to page speed. The bigger your images are in file size, the more slowly your page will load. Don't upload a large image with a file size of several megabytes. In most cases, you can use a smaller file without a noticeable loss of quality.

 

Host Video on Third-Party Sites

 

Videos are a valuable way to educate visitors about your products and services. However, hosting videos on your own website uses a lot of space, and reduces load times. Instead of hosting videos yourself, post them on YouTube or Vimeo and embed them on your website. Not only will this improve your page speeds, it also helps your brand reach a wider audience.

 

Use "Lazy Loading"

 

Typically, when a visitor opens a webpage, the entire page will load. Depending on the site's design and elements, users may experience a long loading time. One way to overcome this issue is by using "lazy loading."

 

When lazy loading is used, the content within view is loaded first, while content below the fold loads after it comes into view. Lazy loading can significantly reduce loading time on posts that contain a lot of images. By using lazy loading and prioritizing your above-the-fold content, you can improve site speed and reduce bounce rates.

 

Hiring a custom web design firm will help you improve your page speeds and ensure that your site is truly mobile-friendly. Contact us to learn more about our web design and development services.

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This is a headshot of Brad Anderson.

 

Designing your own website is not as easy as you think. Of course, these days making a website with nothing but notepad and determination isn't your only option, but even when using a website builder there are a lot of aesthetic and technical issues that can come from saying no to the professionals. There are so many things that have to be considered when designing a website,

 

Is It Responsive?

 

One of the most common mistakes and often the hardest to fix is making your website responsive so that it loads cleanly and formats well on any device a user might visit your site on.

 

Your site may look good on a desktop monitor at 1080p, but someone trying to navigate your site on their phone might see everything as a jumbled mess because it's compressing everything onto a tiny screen. Even users who own tablets or laptops could be using different resolutions that while they aren't too far off still don't respond well to the formatting of the site.  

 

Is It Accessible?

 

Your site must be able to be used by people with varying disabilities ranging from problems with sight, hearing, or even difficulty with motor functions. Having captioned videos, images to important information, laying out your content in a non-confusing way, finding the right contrast colors for your site, even adding support for users to navigate your site with only a keyboard are all things that you need to think about when designing a website. You don't want to cut out a portion of your clientele because your website was too frustrating to navigate.

 

Is It Optimized? 

 

No one is going to see your site if it isn't optimized. Having good SEO and lots of keywords that connect to your site is vital to gain any traffic online these days. When someone searches something related to your company online, you want to be the first result they see. Optimizing your website and connecting it to your content takes some finesse.

 

Designing a website yourself is all well and good if you want to take the time, money, and resources to do so, but a company requires many things to grow and stay successful, and a website is too important these days to afford any mistakes with. In most cases, it's best to leave the design of your website to the professionals rather than to go at it yourself. There are so many things that have to be considered and it takes years of experience to know what works and what doesn't when talking about web design. To learn more, contact us.

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This is a headshot of Brad Anderson.

 

The importance of mobile-friendly web design for your professional business website can't be stressed enough in an age of seismic technology shifts. According to the market research portal Statista, a fact-based statistics and business intelligence company trusted by digital giants from Google to Paypal, there will be approximately 2.63 billion smartphone users worldwide by the year 2020.  If you haven't sought professional web design services to optimize your website for mobile accessibility, now would be an appealing time to consider it. Let's look at a few reasons why mobile website accessibility matters for your business and its relevance in the digital era.

 

Increasing Your Visibility

 

There is a new generation of internet users among us that only know the internet through a mobile device. More and more prior generations of professional adults are migrating to mobile-only internet devices for their ease of use and accessibility among many other benefits. Most of us will still use a combination of internet accessible devices from desktops to laptops, and mobile devices. The need to increase your visibility across all devices is no longer a competitive advantage for your business; it is a must.

 

Expanding Your Customer Reach

 

With an increase in your business visibility across all devices that have internet access capabilities, you can directly influence a larger market share of consumers that may be looking for the product or service that you are promoting. This visibility will ultimately increase your chances of not only obtaining potential customers but more importantly offering you the opportunity to earn repeat customers through your exceptional product or service.

 

Remaining Relevant and Competitive

 

Increasing your visibility to expand your customer reach puts your business in line to be relevant and competitive within your specific product or service niche. If your visibility leads to an expansion of your customer base and you are earning a more repetitive customer base, what's stopping your repeat customers from being your top source for growth and word of mouth advertising to their friends and family across social media?

 

Professional web design and development services are the keys to your developing business goals. Whether you are just starting or looking to improve your business journey into mobile-friendly web design and accessibility, REM Web Solutions based out of Kitchener Waterloo, Ontario can help. Please contact us here to begin.

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