Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Wishing You a Healthy and Prosperous 2013

My top Web design tools and innovations from year 2012.
2012 has certainly been an eventful year. Some good, some bad, and some outright ugly. Web design technology, internet marketing and social media have continued to evolve at a rapid pace.

Staying current with the changing tide of SEO has been challenging. Reflecting back, I definitely saw my daily SEO routine change. I spent much more time doing "research". Keeping up on keeping up...my kids always tease me about that one.

I am thankful for the generosity of the web development community, especially the "knowledge sharers". Reading their tech blogs and forums sure made my life easier when racing to meet another crazy deadline. For those of you out there...thanks for caring and sharing!

My 2012 list of most useful web technologies & innovations

OK, yes...a lot of Google mentions. And I know some of these technologies were around in 2011. But I have leaned on them a bit more than in previous years.
  1. DotNetNuke in the cloud (thanks PowerDNN)
  2. Adobe Fireworks (my "go-to" design app)
  3. Microsoft Expression Web (sorry Dreamweaver)
  4. Evolution of Google+ (loving the new Communities)
  5. Android's Jellybean OS
  6. jQuery libraries
  7. Launch of DNN 7
  8. Improved Webmaster Tools for Google / Bing
  9. Google Sites (open up guest commenting please?)
  10. Matt Cutts webmaster videos on YouTube
Honorable mentions...Google Drive, Wordpress, Blogger & HootSuite.
 

...What's on your list?
 

I'm looking to forward to the new year. So here's to a healthy and prosperous 2013 for all! God Bless!

Monday, December 17, 2012

Google Sites - A Viable Web CMS Platform

If you need to author, develop, and launch a website quickly, consider using Google Sites.

I'm all about efficiency...like most small business owners I am always on the lookout for new tools to help improve productivity.

My preferred method of Website development is either hand-coding HTML, or using a Web content management system such as DotNetNuke or Wordpress.  Customer requirements such as budget, time frame and functionality is the major "driver" on which path I choose to take.

The Google Sites platform has become be a good option because it allows me to deploy rapid website development solutions for my cost conscious customers.

Below, I will summarize the pro's and con's of using Google Sites.
 

What is Google Sites:

Similar to other website builders such as Wix, Yola or Weebly...Google Sites is a free Website CMS hosted in the Google Apps cloud.


Benefits of Google Sites:

  • Cost - Google Sites (as of now) is a free service*.
  • Speed - Rapid development using prebuilt templates.
  • Stability - Hosting is provided via the Google Apps cloud.
  • Semi-Custom - Template design can be modified using the Web-based GUI.  Including colors, fonts, background images, etc.
  • Ease of Use - Add new pages and content easily using the browser based admin screens.
  • Gadgets - Simple integration with Google's family of products including Picasa, Docs, Calendar, YouTube, Drive and more.
  • SEO - Integrated search engine friendly code.
     
Limitations of Google Sites:
  • Customization - No access to the core template html code.  This limits what can be changed.
  • Functionality - Unlike other CMS platforms, access to third party plugins (gadgets) is limited.  This may change as the technology evolves.
  • Commenting - Guest comments are not allowed. This is a barrier to visitor communication and engagement.
     

Google Site Examples:


Conclusion:

The Google Sites platform is a perfect fit for simple websites which require DIY maintenance.  The out-of-the-box functionality will server most small business owners well.  It is a great alternative to the more robust web CMS platforms.  An ideal solution for hobbyists, organizations, sports teams, "mom and pops", and more.

Looking for custom Google Sites web design? Contact us for more information.  Although Google Sites are DYI, some of the template customization may require the help of a designer and or Photoshop expert.

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*Vanity domains require domain registration.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Google+ Communities

OK, I couldn't resist.  I jumped on the early bandwagon and put together my first G+ Community page.

Check it out here: https://plus.google.com/u/0/communities/102545819347311378712

So far I like it.  Although I do see a need for some usability enhancements.  Would love to be able to "pin" a post to the top of a category.  The ability to toggle post content visibility (under the titles) would be nice too.  Lots of vertical scrolling as the community post timeline grows.

I have yet to use the hangout feature, but will do so as the need arises.  I do believe this is a great feature, and will become more widely used as people begin to understand how it works.

People have asked me what Google+ is.  My simplified explanation is that it's like a hybrid social network.  A cross between Facebook, Twitter and email.

Here's the real question...will Facebook and Twitter loyalists give it a try?  With the number of Android based phones out there, my guess is yes. Why?  I would think it is inevitable that folks will stumble across the G+ icon on there smartphones.  Google needs to (and probably will) encourage companies to bake their G+ URLs into advertisements like they have been doing with Twitter and FB.  Speaking of which...vanity URLs for G+ Communities must be just around the corner.  Seems like a logical progression to me.

New Jeep FC Community on GooglePlus

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