Voltage Creative

Web Development & Design | Online Marketing

Taking a break with some paper airplane throwing. #officefun #humpday instagram.com/p/qzhWpqw9lt/

Found a replacement for Corey while he’s at #visibility_14 in Chicago. #voltagedog #coneofshame instagram.com/p/qmlqNCw9ql/

Found a replacement for coreydmorris while he’s at #visibility_14 in Chicago. #voltagedog #coneofshame instagram.com/p/qmkctIQ9ob/

RT @GetSeenGreen: Content marketing schema tips from David Dunne @Velocidi #visibility_14 http://t.co/KOa85AUMgj

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Follow Voltage’s @coreydmorris for SEO and online marketing news, tips, and insight from #visibility_14 taking place now in Chicago.

A fun look back at NBA websites from 10 years ago. Things sure have changed (mostly): bit.ly/1moxnJf #webdesign #UX #webdev

A fun look back at NBA websites from 10 years ago. Things sure have changes (mostly): bit.ly/1moxnJf #webdesign #UX #webdev

Design 101: What is Kerning? Check out the latest article on the Voltage Blog. bit.ly/1vnSN9S #graphicdesign #webdesign

Design 101: What is Kerning?

Kerning. What’s kerning you may ask? Well, most designers will tell you it’s the cause of many headaches in design. Kerning is the spacing between each letterform in a font. Kerning can vary from very tight kerning (letters very close to each other) all the way to wide kerning (letters spaced far apart.) Wide open kerning can have a very “breathable” feel to it, making it easier and a bit more calming to read. That isn’t to say that tight kerning is hard to read, though sometimes it can be. But when kerning goes wrong, it makes most of us designers cringe. Rules are meant to be followed, and while the world has rules that can be bent a little bit or worked around, a rule that just cannot be broken in the world of design is kerning. When letterforms are evenly spaced, you’re in the clear. The biggest problem with kerning is that your eyes will naturally bring you to the errors in the spacing. This will lead to reading things improperly. There is an enormous amount of bad kerning situations that you can find online showing how two words that are poorly kerned can form a word that wasn’t intended. And most of the time those unexpectedly formed words really surprise you.

bad kerning

good kering


Thanks for reading and if you have any questions for us, leave a comment below or contact us to learn more about kerning, design, or about other aspects of your project.

Check out KMBZ Bus. Channel’s Tech Circuit & Voltage’s @coreydmorris @ 1pm. Includes interview w/ @MayorSlyJames. bit.ly/148dhGL #KC

Very Interesting: Chipotle Customers Are Smarter Than McDonald’s And Other Insights From Smartphone Data mklnd.com/1lnKlGJ #mobile

Preparing for Launch (of Your Website)

(Insert various movie quotes, pop culture references, and anything else related to launching things here).  Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, the purpose of this post is to get us thinking about the website launch planning and process to ensure that we aren’t mentioning any of those “Houston we have a problem” quotes.  While no lives (typically) are at stake during a website launch there are often many risks that can impact a business’s bottom line.

Potential risks for botched launches include:

  • Downtime between old site and new site
  • Loss of search engine rankings
  • Broken links for users
  • Loss of old site
  • Damaged relationships (with clients, customers, vendors)
  • Lost revenue

“OK, I know this is important, but what should a launch checklist look like?” you may ask.  I got my hands on the Voltage checklist to give it a look for myself.  From an online marketing perspective, I’m happy to note that it includes the important SEO elements critical to launching a new site like 301 redirects, roboxt.txt file, XML sitemap, Google Analytics tracking scripts, and integration with other important tools.

website-launch-checklist
Here’s a sampling of activities grouped by project phase at launch:

Before Launch

  • Cross browser compatibility testing
  • HTML W3C validation
  • CSS validation
  • CMS accounts created for client use
  • Site content proofread
  • Archive of old site (if applicable)
  • Sitemap of old site recorded
  • 301 redirects mapped and ready to implement
  • Pages load time testing and optimization
  • Fav icon updated
  • SSL ready for configuration (if applicable)
  • Title and meta tags are customized and configured for each page
  • All test posts and content removed
  • Approvals (by designer, client, developer, and other relevant stakeholders)

Launch

  • Approval for going live
  • DNS configuration verified
  • Checking of Google Analytics and Webmaster Tools
  • Plugin Testing (if applicable)
  • Testing of robots.txt and XML sitemap
  • Testing of contact forms and engagement objects
  • SSL installation (if applicable)
  • Final visual inspection
  • Documentation of passwords, IP address, DNS info, hosting info, etc.
  • QA process for live website (similar to QA prior to launch process on dev site)

While this list is not super technical or exhaustive of all recommended steps, it hopefully provides some insight into the time commitment needed for properly launching a site.  Unfortunately, I’ve been brought in too many times by clients post-launch to find that many of the things noted above were not considered or completed when a new site was launched.  It is much harder to clean things up and do damage control the longer a new site is live when best practices are not followed.

Voltage employs a stringent process for every website launched.  We’d love to share more details with you or talk about your project if you want to reach out to us.  Feel free to comment below with any stories you have about launches or items that you think should be part of the checklist.

Hear Voltage’s @coreydmorris on Tech Circuit–1pm on KMBZ Business Channel 1660AM or online: bit.ly/TechCircuit. KC tech topics & more!

Online Marketing Setup Checklist Questions

checkboxOne of the biggest challenges to any online marketing campaign or project is getting started. This is true about many things in life, but in this post, I want to just focus on online marketing campaigns. I’m going to provide some tips, questions to ask, and insights on what should be included in both general terms and in granular items that will help ensure success or at least that you’ve mitigated risks down the road.

Discovery and Goal Setting

  • What is the overall goal of this campaign?
    • To generate awareness through impressions and clicks (web traffic)?
    • To generate leads through impressions, clicks, and ultimately phone calls and lead submission/quote forms?
    • To generate sales revenue through impressions, clicks, and ultimately completed ecommerce transactions?
    • To accomplish another goal (drive downloads, foot traffic in store, email signup, etc.)?
  • Is the website infrastructure in place to foster users toward this goal?
  • What tactics, terms, or other factors are necessary to drive traffic?
  • What metrics are we going to track and how are we going to track them?
  • How are we currently performing and what is our past performance across these campaign channels?
  • What will success look like in terms of tangible metrics in the future and what intervals will we measure it at?

Tracking and Reporting

  • Do we have paid advertising conversion tracking in place?
  • Do we have “goals” configured in our website analytics platform?
  • Do we have custom campaign tagging on our URLs in email and social campaigns for clean tracking in our website analytics program?
  • How complete is our data historically and how robust can it be going forward?
  • How will we proactively and reactively monitor progress and issues?

Website Indexing

  • How well is our website currently indexed by the search engines?
  • Do we have all of the best practices covered (XML sitemap, robots.txt file, etc.)?
  • Do we have access to all possible data and diagnostic sources (webmaster tools, third party analysis tools)?
  • Do we have any redirect, canonical, or duplicate content issues?
  • Are we using structured data, and if so, does it validate properly?

Mitigating Risk

  • Do we have duplicate content with other sites on the web (use tools to evaluate)? Have we resolved any conflicts?
  • Do we have any unknown or potentially risky redirects or mirrors of domain names we own?
  • Have we resolved canonical issues with our www vs. non-www domain name configurations? Have we resolved duplicate URL canonical issues for pages on the site (pages in multiple product categories, duplicated content on multiple URLs, etc.)?
  • Have black hat or gray hat tactics been used in the past? Are we under any type of search engine penalty? Do we have bad or questionable links pointing to our website(s)?
  • Have we identified any and all challenges that could put the project at risk (internal resources, limitations with website CMS, budget constraints, long approval cycles, etc.)?

While this checklist of questions to ask is just a starting point, it is important to start somewhere when launching an online marketing campaign for a specific channel or integrated across multiple channels. I can provide many examples of items that fall into the “mitigating risk” category that were not considered and came back to haunt the best campaigns down the road. Watch for a future post where I’ll provide some specific client stories and examples specifically on this topic.

If you’re considering launching a campaign or have one that you want a second opinion on, feel free to reach out to us at Voltage. Our team would be happy to speak with you (for free!) about your campaign and how you might be able to ensure optimization and success.

RT @playithealth: This Amazing Case Could Virtually Double The Size Of Your iPhone Screen businessinsider.com/fuffr-iphone-c… via @SAI

RT @hnshah: Why it’s Impossible to Make Plans Anymore kiss.ly/1jHFzDW

RT @ComputerArts: 9 things you didn’t know you could do in Photoshop creativebloq.com/photoshop/didn…

5 Things To Remember When Creating A Logo

1. Know Your Audience

Who is the target audience for your brand or company? The answer to this question can dictate many aspects of your logo. If your company were geared towards kids, perhaps you would use bright colors and a chunky, free form font in your logo. Where as if it were geared towards middle-aged adults, you would want to take another approach. Healthcare industries, websites, childcare products, food; each market has a different style and it’s important to know where you fit in.

2. Logotype vs. Logomark

A logotype is referring to a logo with words alone. Think of HERSHEYS. A simple logo created from sans-serif text. A logomark, on the other hand, is a symbol in place of your company name. For instance, think of Apple Computers. Their use of a single apple as their logo has become iconic and is now recognized worldwide. It is important to know which you prefer. Perhaps you want a combination of the two? Decide before you start your logo creation so you can plan accordingly.

3. If In Doubt – Leave It Out

Think simple. The faster that you can communicate your brand message through your logo, the faster your clients will accept it. Do you have the urge to add a little leaf next to the title of your company because “its pretty”? Sure, you might be an eco friendly company… but stop and think! The more clutter and junk you add, the more you take away from your brand.  So if you find yourself in this situation while creating your logo and you doubt this new element…leave it out.

4. Test It Out

There are two basic tests that you should put your logo through before you finalize it. First, does the logo work in black and white? By this time in your process, your logo should be simple and effective enough to get the message across even in black and white. Adding color should only enhance your logo even more.  Secondly, is it scalable? You’ve got to remember that this logo is going to be used on several different mediums, and it’s your job to make sure that it can. Try scaling your logo down really small. Think business card size. Does your logo lose its shape and readability? Now print it out. This is important because many times while working on the computer we can lose track of the actual scale of things. You can also try this test in the opposite direction and scale everything bigger.

 5. Style Guides

A style sheet is a document providing all of the approved versions of your logo. Style guides aren’t always necessary, but they really help in many cases. If you are planning to pass your logo on to another company for advertising or to a printer for your marketing materials, this guide lets them know the correct colors and combinations of your logo that work for you.

Do you have questions about your company’s logo? Are you looking to rebrand? Contact the Voltage team today! 

Debugging code can be as simple as this..bit.ly/1taKS0p #SNL #fixit