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Keeping up with Modern Languages

Don’t worry everyone, this isn’t a post talking about languages spoken in France or Spain, this is about internet language; more specifically HTML5 and CSS3. HTML is short for Hypertext Markup Language, and is the language that most websites are written in. Obviously there are other languages too (PHP, ASP, etc.) but HTML5 along with CSS3 (Cascading Style Sheets) are the newest releases of the internet languages. Not much has changed in either, but there are a few new and interesting things that have been introduced that can really make a website jump off the screen.

One of the first new Properties of CSS3 that I have used that I absolutely love is the Border-Image property. The way that it was done before to get that cool looking border was to create an image the size of the area you want it around and make a background image. For the sake of example, let’ use the main content area of the webpage; as it is usually the largest area on a website. One way to create the border was to first determine how large this area was going to be, then create your image and hope that you made it large enough to fit all of the content and large enough to fit all of the future content barring creating a whole new image to compensate. Another way to do this was to create a smaller image and have it repeat itself all the way down the content area, this alleviates the content size change problem, but it creates a new one when the content only need x+1/2 of the image, making it cut off in an awkward position on the bottom (usually where it happens when using this method). Both of these methods work well, but the Border-Image Property has made things much easier, at least I think it does. The way it works:  first you create a small square image, you give the property the distance to be used from the left, right, top, and bottom. Then you need to tell the property whether to stretch, or repeat the image for the border. If done right you have a border around your content that looks great and can change dynamically. It takes some (or rather a lot) of trial and error to get it just right, but it is a wonderful tool to help your border design consistent without a ton of changes being made if the size of the content changes.

Another great new CSS3 property is the drop-shadow property. Just as you would imagine it create a drop shadow around the content box. This is another property that allows designers to take the drop shadow off of the image and allow it be rendered in the browser as part of the CSS, making the page run faster and without as many images in your library. It also looks better than any drop shadow I have ever created in Photoshop.

One of the biggest notable changes in HTML5 (since pretty much everything here has been all about CSS3) is the added tags to include video and audio. The new tags are used just as you would an image tag, include the source, title, alt text and whatever else you have for your images. This is great because now you can optimize those videos and audio clips you want include on your website with additional keywords for your SEO. I have not had the chance to implement this into any of my new designs (linking to YouTube.com still works great) but it will help me in some of my future ventures.

I obviously can’t go over everything that is new in CSS3 and HTML5, but this is just a few of my newest favorites that I have found.

If you have any questions, comments, or have something you want us to talk about, Let us know. Some of the best comments and Questions will be posted on the News page at www.upstatedesignstudio.com and answered!

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Video for Business and how to use it

Last week Upstate Design Studio announced its partnership with SoMedia Networks to bring professional video production services to our clients. We also told you to check back this week to learn more about what video can do for you and your website. Shall we get started then?

Video is a powerful tool for any business; why else would companies pay millions to get a commercial on T.V.? Because a good video can make people want your service or product without having to see or talk to anyone from your business. It’s like a super salesperson that never sleeps, never complains about working 24/7, and can talk to hundreds of potential clients at the same time! But why is video so important for your website? I mean if they are on your website, they already know who you are and what you offer. Why should you spend the money to add a salesperson when they just want to browse? Truth is, people don’t want to browse anymore. They want instant results, instant access, and instant gratification. People today don’t want to take the time to read all the details of a service, they usually only read the short description and forgo the rest. They don’t have time to waste looking at the finer points of your product. Time is money and the faster your potential customers can consume the information the better.

So how can video help your SEO for your website? For starters you can get yourself on the front page of Google in not only the web searches, but also video searches. This may not be the best part, but getting found in more places is better than not. Where video really helps is being able to embed additional content information in the background as a description of the video that isn’t seen by the public, but crawled by the Google-Bots. This is a good way to boost keywords without making your web page look like you are just trying to increase rank. You can also embed links to your site within those descriptions too. Social Media LOVES video, posting videos on Youtube, Facebook, or any other Social Media can do wonders for your traffic. Just think about your tendencies when you go on Facebook; how often do you read a full article that someone posted? Now think about how often you watch a video someone posted and watch it all the way through… That’s exactly my point. More people look at video than text, so why not take advantage of this powerful tool for your business and website? And now for a little bit of sales pitch… If you are interested in looking at getting a Professional Video made for your business go to www.upstatedesignstudio.com/Video.html to see our services page for video.

If you have any questions, comments, or have something you want us to talk about, Let us know. Some of the best comments and Questions will be posted on the News page at www.upstatedesignstudio.com and answered!

Partnering with SoMedia Networks, Inc

If you didn’t see the Press Release last week, I am happy to announce that Upstate Design Studio has partnered with SoMedia Networks, Inc. to bring Professional Video Production Services to our clients. We were approached earlier this year by SoMedia about a possible partnership to bring their services to our clients in the Western New York area. After researching the company and the service itself extensively, Upstate Design Studio has decided to add SoMedia’s service to our long list of Business Design and Marketing Solutions.

So why would we want offer video production services to our clients? Well first off adding more services gives us more opportunities for leads, and makes us more appealing to a potential client by having additional options for services they may not have thought about before. Secondly video is not only an excellent marketing tool, but it also helps SEO in the process. As a company that focuses a lot on Web Design, SEO tends to be something that we think about a lot. The world of business, especially online, is constantly changing and becoming more and more streamlined. People don’t want to read about your services if they don’t have to, they want the information fast and concise. Incorporating video into your website can help drive sales because they can make a quick personal connection with your brand and your product or service. Not only that but it is easier to understand the finer details of a service or product when someone explains it instead of reading words on a computer screen. Video is becoming more and more powerful by the day; between Youtube, Grouper, and Vimeo, videos can be found everywhere. Taking advantage of the exposure from video is something that any business can and should add to their marketing campaign.

Upstate Design Studio is growing, and we are always looking for more ways to help our clients and build our audience. This marks a big step for us, and we are excited to take it.

Check back again as we will explore what video does for your business in more detail in our next post.

If you have any questions, comments, or have something you want us to talk about, Let us know. Some of the best comments and Questions will be posted on the News page at http://www.upstatedesignstudio.com and answered!

Big Announcement and Press Release for Upstate Design Studio

Upstate Design Studio is happy to announce that it has partnered with SoMedia Networks, Inc. to bring Hi-Def video production services to our clients. See our official press release here.

Social Media and You

Social media has been growing at an uncontrollable rate. From Facebook to LinkedIn, Google+ to Pinterest, it’s amazing how connected everyone is. But with all of those connections how can you use that for your business? Well I’m going to let you in on a couple of things that we do at www.upstatedesignstudio.com to utilize social media to help bring people to our site and business.

First of all you can’t utilize social media if you aren’t on there. You can’t expect people to just post about you with having a page to “Like” or “+1”. So the first thing we did was get ourselves on the various social networks. We are currently running sites on Facebook, LinkedIn, and wordpress (yes I consider wordpress social media). By the end of the month of April we will also be running a Google+ account and well as getting on Twitter. We have our name and our logo out all over the place. Not only does this help us get our brand in more places, not to mention build links, but it provides us with something even more valuable… Unbiased feedback. As a business that relies on individual customers more than trying to get retail partners, feedback is like gold. Getting feedback about your services, about your customer service, about your actual designs, or even your name, can do wonders for how potential clients see you. If a friend or a past client writes a comment about anything it instantly gives you a little more reputation (whether it’s good or bad is up to making sure your clients are happy).  Social media doesn’t lie, if you treat your customers well they will respond in kind, same goes the other way around too though so it is best to be careful when you get yourself out there.

Using social media for feedback is great, but if you just let the pages sit static no one will go there, let alone leave you a comment. So what are you supposed to post on there? Well you just post whatever you think is important. In the case of www.UpstateDesignStudio.com we post our most recent project with a small description, we let everyone know when there is a new blog post up, general announcements about changes in the company, whatever people may want to know about your business. Offering a new service? Post it. Do a new website? Post it. The next import thing is to share it using your personal account. When you first start a company page you probably won’t have people searching for your business as they don’t know you are there. Make a post under the business page and then go ahead and sign into your personal account to Like, +1, and SHARE that post with your friends. I know they are your friends, but those likes still count. Not to mention they have people in their network outside of yours. You never know, there could be a potential client just waiting for their friends to recommend a business. Don’t be afraid to spam people with shares, links, post, etc. Everyone is on at a different time, most people will only see the post once and even more don’t scroll down too far to see what people are doing, thus keeping your post at the top more often is very important.

Social media and your business can work very well together. In fact they can be best friends if you let them. The most important thing is to just get on there, and keep posting. The more places you can be found the better.

If you have any questions, comments, or have something you want us to talk about, Let us know. Some of the best comments and Questions will be posted on the News page at http://www.upstatedesignstudio.com and answered!

Recipe for SEO- A pinch of links and a dash of content

SEO… is there anything more annoying to research or try to do? Probably not… But everybody needs to be conscious of it, and needs to work with it if you want to get anywhere in the online business. I’m sure that all of you reading this have done the same thing that I did when I first started “OK Google, I need to learn SEO… GO!” and like me I’m sure the only thing you found was ambiguous advice wrapped in a sales pitch. Everything that we could find on SEO was “well build links and write good interesting content”… But that’s like a doctor telling a med student “well go in there and take out the appendix then stitch ‘em up, I’m going golfing”. Sure I know what I have to do, but I don’t know how to get from A to C… Nobody wants to talk about B. Poor B, so lonely and passed over…. He is like the invisible middle child that only gets attention when he acts out.

Well that all changes today, I will bring B into the light and let him get some fresh air! Not a lot, but some. It would take way too long to give you all of that middle stuff between start and finish, but I’m here to get you started. Basically everything up until now you have read probably went something like this “5 steps to SEO, Get a sitemap, robots.txt, Build links, Create content, keep content fresh” and then you get the “we won’t tell you how, just do it and you will be good! Or pay us a bunch of money and let us take care of it! GIVE US MONEY!!!!”  at the end. Well that doesn’t help anybody, because now you just wasted your time and there is no way you are giving them money after that. Thanks for reading, check back later for our next discussion.

I know that was a mean prank, but now we can get to the important stuff. Building Links and Content management are really quite simple in the long run, which is why I question why everyone tries to make it rocket science… Let’s start with links. http://www.upstatedesignstudio.com … There, I’m done. Simple as that, go places and post your full path link. That’s literally all you have to do, go on Facebook, LinkedIn, ehem wordpress ehem, and start a page for your site, or post comments on related articles and end it with a link to your site. Slowly but surely Google will start to see your website linked all over the place and start paying attention.  Everyone thinks that “Link Building” means you need Fortune 500 companies to link to your site to become reputable, but really all you need are links in different places. Although the more reputable the website the higher quality the quality of the link, you can get reputable links very easily. WordPress is actually a very high quality link. So if you start a blog and link to your main website in it, not just in your links section but also within your posts, you are building quality links. And guess what happens when someone follows or shares that blog? Yep, that adds yet another link. Start there and be patient, it’s really that simple. So there is you’re Pinch of Links, mix well and watch it rise.

Next step is to gently fold in the content. If you are building links the way I explain above, through blogs and comments, then you are already adding that dash of content to the mix. Every blog post that links your website, every comment you add, that is all SEO content. As long as you keep the posts and comments relevant to what you do, that content will help your SEO greatly. Blogging not only on wordpress, but also blogging on your main website, helps greatly also, the more pages of content you can have Google crawl the better.  All of my blogs are simultaneously posted on wordpress at www.upstateds.wordpress.com and www.upstatedesignstudio.com/News.html for this reason. I follow my own advice, and it seems to be working pretty well. Now all you have to do is continue to add a dash of content every so often to keep it fresh and your recipe for SEO is complete.

Hope this helps you make some delicious SEO! A little disclaimer: There is a lot more to SEO than just this, and I am writing this with no guarantees that this will bring your website to #1. This is just some tips from my experience that should help you get through the process, not a step by step guide.

If you have any questions, comments, or have something you want us to talk about, Let us know. Some of the best comments and Questions will be posted on the News page at http://www.upstatedesignstudio.com and answered!

Webstites up and Online

It takes quite a lot of work to not only create, but to host and manage websites. Currently http://www.upstatedesignstudio.com has not only our main company page up and running but we also have http://www.jlkeng.com and http://www.counselingenrichment.com online for everyone to see. We are hosting http://www.jlkeng.comon our servers, but http://www.counselingenrichment.com is running on another hosting server (once the contract runs out http://www.counselingenrichment.com will be running on our servers. Though it doesn’t look like much, there is still a lot of time that was spent getting these websites online and keeping them up to date.
Website creation takes time, hard work, and very close attention to detail, hosting and managing those sites is no different. Many people think that once the code is in place the website is done, it’s all set and ready to see on the net. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Not only do you need to find a reliable hosting service (A service that we provide I may add) but once you do you need to register domains, define DNS servers, and then upload the files and structure them in a coherent manner to make your life easier when you make changes in the future. Even then you aren’t done. Once you have completed all these steps you have to test your site while it’s on the servers. There are certain things that you can’t test on your local machine when you write your code. Things like a .PHP language contact form (an example can be seen here http://www.upstatedesignstudio.com/Email_Contact.html) cannot be tested locally and they need a test server to run off, but even a test server may react differently to your code than the server you use to host your site on the web. This is why I recommend, to not only my customers but my friends and family as well, that if you need a website hosted don’t do it yourself. Let a professional (Like us) take care of that for you. File management in and of itself can be a daunting task for someone new to web hosting.
Once you have done all of the steps listed above, you still aren’t finished. You may have your domain set up, your files in place, and everything tested and working, but unless someone goes directly to your URL then you won’t be found. The next step is creating a sitemap, getting into Google/Bing/Yahoo and then allowing those search engines to run through your site and find keywords and content. This is a small piece to a bigger puzzle called SEO (Search Engine Optimization), which will be discussed in a later post. What I will say is that your website needs two things for this step, a sitemap (an XML file) and a robots.txt file (Just a text file done in notepad). Simple names, but these two objects have amazing power for your website.

If you have any questions, comments, or have something you want us to talk about, Let us know. Some of the best comments and Questions will be posted on the News page at http://www.upstatedesignstudio.com and answered!