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Archive for Web Development/Design’ Category


Comments Off on PR Insider: PR is the new SEO

PR Insider: PR is the new SEO

Guest Blog by: Uwe Schmidt, president of the Public Relations Global Network (PRGN)

While Google has changed the search algorithms three times between 2011 and 2013, the latest one seems to be causing the most headaches to SEO specialists since it focuses mostly on content. And that’s – alas, dear techies! – first and foremost no technological approach. It’s an opportunity for PR professionals (who develop key message-driven strategies for their clients) to provide deep content and manage both sides of modern PR: the media and the SEO portions.

Here are five tips from a PR professional who’s been following SEO trends very closely over the last few years:

  1. Constantly create new user-oriented content on your website. This will guarantee visitors stay longer and Google will recognize higher relevance for your website.
  2. Create unique content. For instance, pitch bylined articles for placement on reputable websites such as online trade magazines, and get links to that content on your website secured. These links are invaluable for your Google ranking.
  3. Design website content, structure and technique so Google can analyze the content easily. Include keywords within all titles and copy. Eliminate large images and flash animations whenever possible.
  4. Avoid duplicate content. Also, do not book low-value placements on pseudo press portals or directories that were created to distort Google results. Google now ignores such entries and even might punish companies appearing on such “spam sites” by down-ranking their websites.
  5. Choose a smart PR agency as your company’s partner. Doing so will better ensure that each side understands both the content and the technological aspects of state-of-the-art SEO public relations.

This may sound easy, but in reality it’s not. In reality, few companies truly understand the current trends and how they can use them to their benefit, nor do they know how to find the right partner to work with them on the opportunity. At the end of the day, it’s all about including SEO in the content-driven communications strategy of a company and being able to shift a part of the marketing budget to one of the most effective tools that exists today: SEO-PR.

Uwe Schmidt is CEO of the German PR & communications agency Industry-Contact (IC AG) and the current president of the Public Relations Global Network (PRGN). Follow Uwe: @IC_AG.


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Comments Off on No Longer Your Typical Graphic Artist/Designer

No Longer Your Typical Graphic Artist/Designer

A ComputerIt’s safe to say that since the advent of desktop computing, business has been changing at a rapid pace. Many jobs have molded and changed to adapt to the latest and greatest technologies available, or they have vanished altogether. Graphic Artists that have been in the industry for the past 20 years know this all too well.

A typical Graphic Artist, Graphic Designer or Art Director must now have the ability to perform many additional tasks that were once additional positions held within several small companies. Such tasks may include being an Interactive/Web Designer, Illustrator, Photographer, Videographer, Video Editor, Computer Technician or even a basic Web Programmer. Modern computers, cameras and software have helped to make this a reality.

This may sound a little overwhelming for people just getting their start in advertising, public relations, design and multimedia productions. Believe me–it is! If you’re looking to get into this field of work, be sure you have vast knowledge and a great skill-set because you’re going to utilize it on a daily basis. In a small business atmosphere you need to be able to wear many hats, not just the one printed on your business cards. This holds true for just about any job at a professional small business today.


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Comments Off on Five Web Design Trends in 2013

Five Web Design Trends in 2013

Webpage Inspector

In the ever evolving web community in which we all live there are numerous design elements and choices that have begun to arise and will continue to keep popping up throughout the remainder of the year. Some of these trends will disappear as quickly as “Crystal Pepsi” or the McDonald’s “McLean Deluxe.” Some may stand the test of time and emerge as the new standards web designers live by.  Here’s a look at five of the hottest trends of 2013.

Responsive Web Layouts

Almost half of web browsing is now done via smartphones or mobile devices. So it stands to reason that you want your website to look and function the same across all web browsing platforms. Utilizing a responsive web layout is a trend that began in 2012 and is moving to web standard status in 2013. Clients not only prefer this method of web development, they expect it.

Fixed Header Bars

Again this isn’t exactly a “new” trend but we’re seeing more of this design element lately. This design trend significantly enhances a website’s user experience with quick access to the navigation menu. It’s one of the more basic trends, but it’s going to stick around for quite some time.

CSS Transparency

With CSS3 you now have the control of opacity for any element on a webpage. From a programming standpoint, this makes creating a layered web page look relatively easy. This is a new trend that is gaining tons of popularity throughout the web. Look for this to stay around forever.

Infinite Scrolling

This is not necessarily a new trend because it has been around for years. Some of the new websites that have gained mass popularity as of late–such as Pinterest–use this technique where the page just continuously populates as you scroll downward. There’s no need for any navigation or to remember what page a certain image was on because it’s all one page; simplicity at its finest. Look for this trend to stay around for a while for very specific types of websites.

Sliding Web Panels

What was once Flash and action script and became a big web development no-no has now become JavaScript and JQuery, which is almost a must have. The rotating images you see regularly on website homepages are prime examples of a javaScript image rotator. A complete web page that slides in from left-to-right is another cool example of the JQuery trend. Many more websites in the future will benefit from these dynamic website techniques as designers implement them into their web projects.

So there you have it, five design trends for 2013. None of them began this year, but all of them will continue to grow in popularity as time progresses.

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Comments Off on WordPress isn’t just for Bloggers

WordPress isn’t just for Bloggers

Wordpress Logo

WordPress was once just considered a platform to be used exclusively by traditional bloggers. Now it’s the base for over 60 million websites worldwide. With its extremely intuitive dashboard (content management system) which allows non-tech savvy users to easily edit content, it is becoming the platform of choice for many new business website development projects. The core software is developed by hundreds of volunteers and is “open source” at its finest, free to use for all who wish to venture into the world of widgets and themes.

Being highly customizable with the use of widgets is one of the most appealing aspects of WordPress. Widgets such as a twitter feed, java image rotator and embedded video player are some of the most popular choices. Within the dashboard you can add these widgets to the body of the website, sidebars or footer. Repositioning of the widgets once they are installed is as easy as drag and drop, upload and test.

Now that WordPress has become so popular, different styles or “themes” (the user interface design/or front side of the website users see) are in abundance. There are many free themes available to download. If you’re looking for something a little bit different or a very specific type of design, you may have to pay for premium selections. Luckily even these are extremely affordable from most online sources.

For blogging, WordPress is very much the product of choice. The easy to use dashboard makes posting a new blog entry simple. You can easily copy and paste a pre-written article or type in something new in the editor. Pulling a video feed or placing image files within an article is simple as well. Having the additional elements within the blog article can really liven up the look and feel of the post. Being able to do it easily yourself makes it that much more fun — and downright cool!

Becoming familiar with WordPress will take some time. If you’re looking to build a website on this platform, hire a professional to do the development. Once the website is complete, spend time with the programmer and get some hands-on training. Also, be sure to watch some tutorials. There are plenty of resources for these videos online. Just ask your programmer where to find these videos. Once you choose and use this platform, you’ll never want to use anything else for your website content management.

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Comments Off on Windows 8: Is the New Microsoft Operating System a Hit or a Miss?

Windows 8: Is the New Microsoft Operating System a Hit or a Miss?

Windows 8 Logo

If you’re in the market for a new PC, you’ve probably noticed that manufacturers have recently switched to Microsoft Windows 8 as an operating system. If you took Windows 8 for a test drive in the store, you might have been bewildered by its user interface. Where’s the Start button? What do you mean the whole screen is Start? What’s this Metro stuff?

Microsoft has attempted to combine the elements of our familiar keyboard/mouse environment with the touch screen environment found in tablets. The jury is still out on whether this combination will be successful. Heck, the jury is still out on the ribbon interface in Office!

We’ve seen this before, where Microsoft introduced a new Windows version and it bombed. Think back to Windows ME and Windows Vista. But Microsoft quickly turned out their successors, Windows XP and Windows 7, which turned out to be hits.

There are several approaches to take with Windows 8:

– Embrace it. Forget everything you know about previous Windows versions and learn how to use Windows 8.

– Ignore it. Put off your next PC purchase until Microsoft comes out with something better. The rumor mill has Windows 8.1 restoring the Start button and booting into desktop mode. If you can’t wait, search for PCs still shipping with Windows 7. Look at the business sections of the Dell, HP, Lenovo, Samsung and Toshiba websites.

– Meet it halfway. Lenovo and Samsung have released Start menu add-ons for Windows 8. Or purchase an add-on program that changes the user interface to something more familiar. Here’s an article about a $5 program that will save you headaches:


Of course, the most drastic approach is to dump Windows and get a Mac. If we all love our iPhones and iPads so much, why not take the plunge?

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Comments Off on Running a Public Relations Firm

Running a Public Relations Firm

Stevens Strategic Communications, Inc.

The debate rages on.  Just what is a public relations firm?  Over the years technology and our economy have caused the definition to change.  In many ways, when I think of the words public relations, the word Catholic or universal comes to mind.

In essence the public relations firm is one that deals with our relationships with all of our publics.  That means our customers.  Our employees.  Our communities.  Our world.

We create messages for audiences and determine the best ways to reach that audience.  Is it advertising?  Social media?  Videos?  Media relations?

Yes, we used to have advertising agencies, public relations firms, and specialty shops.  We even had agencies of record.  Now we provide the best we have to our clients.  Timing, messaging, quality and cost are critical.  Now that we have an understanding of what a public relations firm does—just about everything in terms of communications—then how do you staff?

In the military, I was always impressed with our Special Forces.  These were teams of soldiers with more than one refined skill.  They are linguists, mechanics, snipers, medics, demolition experts.  They are people who accomplish their mission.  In fact, in the military we learned the value of being resourceful even when we weren’t green berets.   So many of us were crossed-trained to do more than our primary military specialty.  That’s how I see the public relations firm of today.

We have social media people who are great account executives.  Crisis specialists who know advertising.  Video producers who know how to write.  Engineers who can create speeches.  Art directors with audio engineering expertise.  Research executives who can handle direct marketing.  Wow.  Our guys are talented.

Survival in the business world today requires that we have many skills, stay up to date on trends, and work hard to stay ahead of the pack.  We want to do all of this while we are having a good time helping our clients succeed.

(FLASH) That is my snapshot of running a PR firm today.  It’s providing the right climate for great, talented people—so they can do great things for great clients!

— Ed Stevens, APR
President, Stevens Strategic Communications

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Comments Off on Safari and Firefox and Chrome! Oh, my! – Why you Should Install More than One Web Browser

Safari and Firefox and Chrome! Oh, my! – Why you Should Install More than One Web Browser

Four Browser Logos and Internet Explorer src=

Internet Explorer might be the only web-browsing program installed on your computer, but there are several alternative browsers available. Why switch from your tried-and-true browser? Another browser might load pages faster, have a better user interface or have the customization you need to make a task easier.

The category of web browsers is one of the most competitive in the software industry. Developers are constantly adding features and beefing up security. The best part is that browsers are free, meaning you can have multiple browsers installed and ready with bookmarks of your favorite websites.

Google Chrome is the rising star. That’s because it’s fast and, like Maverick in Top Gun, we all have “the need for speed.” One reason Chrome is fast is because it runs fewer security checks than say, Internet Explorer. In other words, you might want to check its security settings.

Firefox is noted for its flexibility. Downloadable add-on applications can customize the functionality and appearance of Firefox. One add-on Stevens Strategic uses is for capturing a web video into a file.

Internet Explorer is the veteran of the bunch. If a website is incompatible with just one browser, it will probably be Internet Explorer. IE is more compliant with web standards than previously, but can have some quirks with some websites.

When a website just doesn’t act the way you expect it to, try another browser. That’s the biggest reason for having more than one browser installed!

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Comments Off on Website Basics 101

Website Basics 101

Internet Café Storefront

When someone is searching for a desired service/product and stumbles upon your website, will they be happy with what they see or will they simply jump off the site, hit the back button or go on to your competitors’ website? It’s the information-age old question: What makes a good website and do you really need to hire someone to build it?

IBM did a study a number of years ago on how quickly online users judge a website. Within 3-5 seconds of viewing a website, the judgment had been made! Is your company able to handle your website visitors’ needs? What is the quality of the service/product they want? Can they navigate quickly and effectively through your site? Take a critical look– does your website really portray the quality of your company? Does your website stack up against the competition in terms of design and appeal or is it out of date?

 If you’re unsure of any of the answers to these questions, hire a usability consultant immediately. Your website is your 24 hour a day, 365 day a year salesman and the face of your company. This is not something to leave up to your internal IT staff or some sort of assistant who took one design course in college, let alone your neighbor’s kid who really knows computers. Keep in mind you’re going to get what you pay for. Creating a high quality website takes a team of people who each have very specific talents and abilities.

Stevens Strategic has the capabilities and the manpower to create a website for your business. For more information, contact our Senior Art Director Steve Toth at stoth@stevensstrategic.com.

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Comments Off on The iPhone 5 is on its way!

The iPhone 5 is on its way!

iPhone 5

The next generation of the innovative Apple smart phone is sure to make waves throughout the industry upon its release. Expected this September or October, there is no doubt the device will be a holiday gift hit. Analysts are claiming upwards of 59 million units will be sold before the end of the year.

Early reports have indicated that the iPhone 5 is a complete redesign with a thinner body, larger retina display screen, new operating system and IOS 6. It’s said to be loaded with improved features and capabilities including a smaller dock connector, a quad-core processor (an improved version of the now existing A5 chip), 1 GB RAM, 4G download speed (LTE support), and possibly an 8MP camera.

Are these facts, fiction, rumors or speculation? Only time will tell. Regardless, with its arrival, Apple will keep its competitive edge in the smart phone market. The iPhone 5 will increase efficiency, productivity and all around enjoyment of the smart phone experience.

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Comments Off on Going Organic

Going Organic

“Going organic” has become important for many people’s diets in recent years. But going organic in the internet world is becoming more important than ever when it comes to winning the search engine battle.

The internet is quickly replacing phone books and directories when we are looking to find information on a company or product. It is important that your web site can be easily found. With the massive amounts of information that can be found on the internet these days, it can be easy to be lost in the shuffle.

One way to get your company’s information on the “results page one” of a search engine is by paying for an advertisement. But many companies are finding that they can get the same results using Search Engine Optimization, while saving some money at the same time.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) promotes a web site through increased visibility on a search engine. By correctly managing the components of SEO which include accurate key word lists, ad groups and compelling ad copy, you can make it easier for Google to match your site with the search being conducted. Search engines such as Google and Bing index billions of websites each day based on their content. When all of these variables work together, you can get a measurable conversion, ending up on the first results page.

The goal in SEO is to end up in the the top, unpaid listings in the search results page, also known as the organic results. Most people do not take the time to click through the results pages, so if your web site doesn’t land in the top 10, chances are you missed a chance to get people to your web site.

Getting lost in the shuffle in search engine results is easy. But with SEO, small and large businesses can place themselves right in front of their customers or prospects.

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