Demystifying Acronyms: Episode 2 – CMS

A content management system (CMS) is software that allows users to create, manage, and modify content on a website, without needing to know anything about code.

The three top open source Content Management Systems in use today are WordPress, Joomla! and Drupal. WordPress is the most popular CMS with 60% market share and running about 33% of all the websites out there. Joomla! and Drupal together account for 9% of market share and there are many other lesser-known CMS options that share the balance of market share including many that are not open source.

Open Source software is free because the original source code is made freely available and may be redistributed and modified. The website owner can still incur some cost beyond the hosting and domain registration fees if templates and plug-ins are used on the site. There are many free options for those additions and also a wealth of fee required (but typically low cost) options. That is true of each of these CMS’s we are talking about.

Ten years ago when we started to design websites we used Drupal exclusively. At that time WordPress was mostly a blog site and did not have the capabilities of Drupal. Today that has changed dramatically and we use WordPress for most of our sites. Drupal still has some advantages that make it a better choice for some of our customers so we determine which platform to use on a customer by customer basis.

What advantages are there for your company with running a CMS based website?

1) It is a user-friendly system that enables any approved team member to upload text and images or edit files online — regardless of development experience

2) A CMS allows each user to have access to the website, and you can control the permissions associated with each user. This allows you to grant various levels of access to your team members.

3) It is a cost-effective system that allows a company to host an attractive and feature-rich site at a reasonable cost

4) It enables your team to keep your website up to date (on a daily basis if needed) without having to depend on a website designer’s schedule

As user-friendly as a CMS based website is, you may not want to spend time keeping your website up to date. The good news is that the cost of having us do the work for you is less because we can work more efficiently using a CMS and we pass those savings on to you. Either way, you win!

Demystifying Acronyms: Episode 1 – SEO

This term is thrown around a lot these days in tech and business circles. What does it stand for, what is it, and do you need it?

SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization. According to Wikipedia “SEO is the process of increasing the quality and quantity of website traffic by increasing the visibility of a website or a web page to users of a web search engine.”

Since Google has over 90% of the market share for search engines here in 2019 SEO efforts are usually focused on attempting to get your website to rank highly in relevant Google searches.

“Google it”

SEO has changed over the years as Google’s Search Algorithm evolves. When you type something into the search box this algorithm decides what results to display and how to rank them in order of relevance. When trying to improve the position or appearance of a website in a list of search results you need to know what this algorithm is looking for. Here are some examples of factors that currently play into this algorithm: content quality, links to other pages and other pages that link to you, mobile-friendliness, page load speeds, and how often the content is updated.

“Do I Need SEO?”

Yes, you need to make sure your website is found by Google and that it shows up in relevant searches. If a tree falls in the forrest does it make any sound? If a website exists but no one visits it, is it of any use? Thankfully there are a lot of tools out there now that are helping to enable people to handle this for their own websites. First and foremost is Google Analytics. It’s free and it gives you information direct from Google about your site traffic, and things that may be hindering your search ranking. There are also many free website plugins that help you analyze your site’s content to make sure your content is correctly labeled and structured.

There are times though when a professional is needed. If you have exhausted the resources of free online tools and are still not being found, and especially if your business relies on online sales as the main source of revenue, it may be time to call someone who specializes in SEO and marketing. If you do hire someone to help you with SEO, keep a lookout for the “Black Hats”…

Black Hat vs White Hat SEO

Don’t worry little lady, your website is safe with me”

Back in the days of the Spaghetti Western Film, the good guy always wore the white hat and the bad guy wore a black hat. This is how “black hat SEO” and “white hat SEO” got their names. Sneaky methods that try to trick the search algorithm are called “Black Hat” SEO. These methods are usually initially very effective, at least in gaining a better position in searches. However, site visitors are often annoyed and confused when they actually visit the site because websites built only to appease a search algorithm are usually not what the visitor is looking for. Also, if (or rather when) Google discovers the shady methods the site gets “blacklisted” and penalized, or even disappears from results altogether. So how do you spot the black hats? Be wary of big promises like “Guaranteed #1 on Google!” Ask them what exactly they intend to do and if any of their techniques could be considered “black hat” or risky. You can find a list of some common Black Hat techniques to watch out for at Entrepreneur.com.

Tune in next time for “Demystifying Acronyms: Episode 2 – CMS”

File Formats – What do I need for my logo?

Vectors vs. Bitmaps

You may or may not be familiar with the terms Bitmap and Vector, but you probably use these types of files every day. These are two different categories of image files. Bitmaps(also sometimes called “Rastor” images) are by far the most common. It includes common file types like .jpg, .gif, .png. A bitmap is an image file that is made up of dots or pixels. If you zoom in too far on a bitmap image you start to see a pixelated effect.

Vector images are far less common, and many people are unaware of these file types entirely. The most common examples are .eps, .svg, and .ai files. In some cases .pdf files can contain vector data as well. Vector files store their data as points and lines on a kind of invisible grid. This allows the image to be sized up or down without losing quality or becoming pixelated.

What’s best for logos?

A logo needs to be able to be used in a variety of different ways. Whether you create your logo yourself or have a graphic designer create something for you, you will eventually need to have your logo in a vector format. It is simple to convert a vector image into a bitmap image, but not so simple to convert a bitmap image into a vector image, especially if the image is complex or highly detailed. So ideally you should start out with your logo in a vector format. If you are going to put your logo on shirts or mugs or the like, this is the kind of file the printer will ask for. It also enables you to make your logo as big (like a billboard) or as small (like a business card) as you need to without sacrificing any quality.

So, if vectors are so handy why don’t we use vectors all the time? Vector files do have some limitations. Certain effects are more difficult to create in a vector format. Also though most up to date web browsers do technically support vector files, bitmap formats are more widely and effectively supported. So when putting your logo on your website, in an email signature, or as profile picture on a social media platform you will also need your logo in a bitmap format. Out of the most commonly supported bitmap formats I usually choose .png because it allows transparency and then I can avoid a pesky white box around the logo.

Got the .JPG Logo blues?

If you already have a logo and but it’s not in vector format, never fear. Though it can sometimes take a skilled hand you can have your logo converted to a vector file. We offer this service here at Design One Media Group. Taking this small step makes your logo more versatile.

Domains and Web Hosting

What is a Domain name?

Your domain name is basically whatever comes after the “www.” in your web address. It’s like the sign in front of your business telling people what parking lot to turn into. No two domain names can be the same, which can mean that the one you were looking for may already be taken and you have to get creative. Be careful when choosing your domain. You want it to be memorable and not too long. Technically 253 characters is the maximum length of a full domain name, including dots, but it is wise to keep it below around 20 characters. You are limited to letters, numbers, and dashes, and are not allowed any spaces. You can use capital letters when you display your domain, but domain names are not case-sensitive. Make sure to look at your potential domain name as it would appear in a web browser without capitals or spaces to make sure you don’t make any unintentional words or messages. For example, SpeedOfArt.com can look like SpeedoFart.com (capitalization for emphasis).

What is Web Hosting and Servers?

A website is made up of a collection of files, and often times a database (or multiple databases). The files and database(s) work together to create the website. However, if you create and save these files on your computer obviously no one will see them. You need a way to serve these files up for public viewing on the web. This is what a website host does. Picture your host like the location of your business. They store your website files on their server(s) and make them accessible on the web. Servers are actual physical computers that are storing and “serving up” your files. Even “cloud” storage is basically just data stored in a remote location that is accessible via the internet.

Putting it Together

This is where I come across the most confusion. You need BOTH a domain name AND a web host to have a functioning website, just as you would need a physical location to interact with customers and a way for people to find and identify that location to have a physical storefront. Most companies provide both services which keeps things pretty simple. But there are cases where they are two different companies. It’s actually quite common because changing hosting services is much easier than transferring a domain registration, and the cost of hosting is the majority of the expense of having a website. People often switch hosts to get a better deal on hosting expense but don’t bother transferring the Domain registration. Also, many web designers and developers require you to switch to their preferred host but don’t require a domain transfer.

How we handle it

Many graphic designers decide to “sub-host” websites for their clients. This means they have an account with a web host company and do all the background work for you. It’s kind of like sub-letting. This does make things seem less complicated for the client, however, there are some drawbacks to this approach. This means if you have an existing website it needs to be moved to their host and often time you end up needing to start from scratch. This also means your designer needs to bill you regularly for your hosting and at the very least needs to add some cost on for the time that takes them. Some will even add a significant amount. And lastly, if something were to go amiss with your relationship with your designer only they have access to your domain registration and website files. Often what we see is not malicious designers who won’t release the information, but rather just they drop off the map and we can’t get ahold of the previous designer and are therefore left starting from scratch.

We have decided to put the reins in our clients’ hands when it comes to their domain and host, though we are right there beside them to guide them through the process. This means they pay less for hosting because they are paying directly to the hosting company. This also means our clients can keep their existing hosting service and we will work with them. Lastly, at any time our clients have access to their domain and files if ever they need them.

Ask Your Tech Questions Here!

The world of the internet and related technology can be a huge and baffling universe. There are is so much techno-babble and acronyms that even the best of us get lost in it all. In my years of creating websites and other design content I’ve often found myself answering the same questions and so I decided to create a place where I answer questions that I hear often from my clients plus any questions you, my internet audience comment with.

So stay tuned for answers to questions like: “What does SEO actually stand for and do I need it?”, “Who is hacking my website and why?”, “What is the difference between web hosting and domain registration?”, “How do I set up me email on my phone?”, and more. Submit your comments to add your own tech/website questions to the list!