Displaying items by tag: web design spain
So who's the Best Web Designer in Spain? If you search on Google they seem to think it's us! But Google are wrong......we're not!
And I'll tell you who else it isn't.....the man in the pub! I'm sure you know the type: Been everywhere, done everything, knows everything, and in a former life was allegedly a mover and a shaker in big business. Use people like this at your own risk......we've seen the aftermath of these trainwrecks and it's not a pretty sight.
The reality is that if you think using professionals is expensive, just wait till you go down the amateur route. I would advise you to do your research carefully, and look for a longterm, proven, and verifiable track record in the industry. And it goes without saying that you need to take up references. These are some of ours: WebSpain Clients......and all the other pros will be able to show you something similar.
So who is the best? First we need to establish how the industry works. Generally the pros will specialise in a particular application or framework. Essentially, we're all doing the same thing but with different systems and on different platforms. We've worked solely with Joomla (and it's predecessor Mambo) since 2001, while others may be working with WordPress or Drupal, or perhaps they do bespoke sites with their own systems. And there are some who only work in specific business areas.....like Real Estate for example.
As you can see, there is a major specialisation and segmentation occurring here, and that makes comparisons very difficult. This specialisation doesn't occur with the man in the pub of course! He'll throw anything together with anything that comes to hand that happens to be free.....and you'll pay for the dubious privilege of being his guinea pig. Your choice!
What about Review Sites? You'll see these all over the internet, particularly for web hosts. These are not real review sites, they're paid ads.....and you can pay for any of the positions. Obviously if you want number one then that's the most expensive option, and the price then drops incrementally for the lower slots. We were approached a couple of years ago for a "Spain Web Designer Review" fiasco. Our position is we've never paid a penny for advertising in 18 years, so we're not going to start now! Particularly in a deceptive way like that.
To anybody who's considering working with a web designer, I'd suggest that you search on Google and speak to a few of them. Get a feel for who they are and how they do things. You need to find one that's a good "fit" for YOU! Remember that it's not about them.....it's about YOU.
So who is the best web designer in Spain?
We may be the best web designer for some people, but given the specialisation and fragmentation I listed above, it's not possible to be all things to all men! Unless you're the man in the pub of course! That guy is multi talentless on all levels.
The simple answer to this question is there isn't one! There's only the web designer that's best for YOU! It may be us.....or it may be somebody else. But one thing I can guarantee is that the "somebody else" is never going to be the man in the pub!
What I want to do in this article is hopefully give you some ideas on how you can make your life so much easier......while being much more efficient. I know that some of the options may not be what you want to hear.....because the older we get, the more resistant we become to change. But over the years I've made these changes, and it's made a big difference in the way I work.
1. Stop using Windows! Though if you happen to take some perverse pleasure in paying for an operating system that compels you to battle with your computer in an endless cycle of computer crashes, registry errors, defragging hard drives, and battling viruses and Trojans......then ignore this!
Me, I can live without all that angst.....and I have done for 10 years by using Linux. None of those scenarios ever occur, it just works. And even better, the operating system is free forever.
I know some of you will say......I'm too used to Windows! Actually you're not! Because if you own an Android phone, a Tablet, or a Chromebook, you're already using Linux! Android is a Linux based system. The servers that run your websites are Linux, 95% of the world's supercomputers run Linux, and even NASA and the International Space Station run on Linux!
Seeing a pattern here?
2. This one actually goes hand in hand with my first point. If you stop using Windows then you can kiss Outlook goodbye.
But if you're one of those masochistic types who feel that they can't live without the misery-inducing trauma of a Windows system.....then just get rid of Outlook. You wouldn't believe the number of clients I've seen over the years lose all their data because they insisted on clinging to this application. And you also need to be worried about Ransomware (where you have to pay €350+ to get your computer unlocked), along with malware sending out thousands of hardcore mails.....in your name.
So that's your credibility gone, along with your domain getting blacklisted all over the internet of course. There's better options!
3. Internet Explorer....and whatever this ludicrous new Windows 10 browser is called! Stop using them! I've seen enough virus infestations and browser hijacks over the years that can be traced back to IE to know that you don't go there. There's better options!
3. We all use E-Mail......it's a critical tool for us. So why are some of you still storing it on your computers via something like Outlook? This isn't 2005....we now live in the mobile era so you need to be platform and computer independent. Instant access to all your data wherever you are and whatever device you use is now a critical part of moderrn business. The key to all this? GMail.
Hands down it's the best tool for the job! If you use the Chrome browser (which is what I recommend) then you have so many extensions available that allow you to tweak it to exactly what you want. And remember you can set up your business mail address as an alias, so as far as everybody is concerned it actually came from your private mail account. The power of having every e-mail you've ever sent, along with full contact details of all your clients in the palm of your hand is a revelation.
You don't need to be detached from your business communications and all your data.....just use Gmail.
4. Of course when you store all your data within GMail contacts it becomes accessible via other mobile applications......in particular, Whatsapp! Free calls to anybody in the world opens up a whole new world of business opportunities, so make sure you get both Whatsapp and Skype details from all new contacts. You now have an easy way to keep lines of communication open for business, and remember that if you don't do it......your competitors will.
5. This one is common sense.....but I doubt many of you reading this article actually do it! And it's backup the data on your PC's every week! Plug in external USB, copy the data from your documents folder, then disconnect from the PC. Do not leave it connected. In my 28 years in IT I've known businesses go under because they failed to listen to this advice.....so take this very seriously.
Now here's the bottom line! You can continue to pay for commercial software that complicates your life.....or you can use free open source applications that will make your life easier. The mobile era has completely changed the game! But have you changed with it......or are you still clinging to the way you've always worked?
My way of thinking is if you're still stuck in the 2005 way of doing things, then maybe it's time to move on?
Do you remember Jackanory? Most of us will I'm sure......but did you know that you can still enjoy stories of total fantasy like we heard when we were children?
Because Once Upon a Time the internet was invented, and story tellers finally had a platform to make themselves heard.
And even better, it was a safe place where they could hide behind a keyboard or change identity when they got found out. So let's recap some of the best "wondrous stories" from recent years.....predictably most relate to SEO!
We will get you the number one position on Google.
Nobody can guarantee anything......all you can do is influence.
We will get you ranked on the first page of Google.
As above.....though this could be possible by getting you found for some ludicrous search string that nobody would ever use. In which case it's of no use to you whatsoever. For example, if you're an Estate Agent on the Costa del Sol, do you think getting a high ranking for a term such as "Pink villa in Calle Centro Marbella with a rock garden of gnomes holding fishing rods" is really going to be a game changer?
(Within an hour of posting that ludicrous search string I had the Google number one position for it. So do you see how easy it is to get high rankings for ridiculous terms? Getting them for key search phrases is a different matter of course).
Your website can't be found on search engines!
So how did they find you? Crystal Ball? Ouija Board? The Voices in their Head?
We know Google’s Algorithims.
Nobody does.....not even the senior executives at Google.
We know people at Google, so we can get you to the top of the list.
I know somebody in the RAF.....but that doesn't get me a free plane.
The more pages of content you have, the better.
Content is critical, but it's the quality that counts not the quantity.
We'll build 10,000 backlinks to your site!
Backlinks are still relevant today......but not quantity of links, only quality of links! So 10,000 backlinks on things like Bolivian jock strap repairers or seedy Korean link farms are actually going to harm you.....because you'll be seen to be keeping bad company. Be very careful when it comes to sites that link to you.
We've tested your site, it has thousands of errors, so you're doomed unless we fix it!
If your site had thousands of errors it wouldn't even load. What these people do is run an automated program that analyses all the processes within the site.....then send you a report that everything is wrong. Run one of these tests on Wikipedia and you'll get a similar result.....so why is it they end up on virtually every internet search that you make? One reason only......and that's content.
We'll optimise your MetaTags to get good positioning!
Meta keyword tags are hidden key words contained at the top of web pages. Years ago they were part of the evaluation because search engine algorithms were very basic. This is no longer the case, and Google doesn't even look at Meta keyword tags in it's indexing process. We still include them out of habit, but their relevance is now zero.
We have 250 in-house experts ready to work on your project.
Basically this can be translated to "We'll take any old job.....irrespective of whether we can do it. Then we'll sub-contract it out to somebody else....who hopefully knows a bit more than we do". This happens a lot....particularly with agencies who claim to do everything. We don't sub-contract anything out to third parties because we only work within our specialist area.
A bloke in the pub said........
I lose the will to live hearing this one! If you're going to recount what somebody has said then I need to see what prior accreditation they bring to the table. Are they world renowned industry influencers? Larry Page or Sergey Brin at Google perhaps? Mark Zuckerberg at FaceBook maybe? No.....he's more likely to be the bloke who cleans your swimming pool. Now I'm sure he does a good job of that, but he's no more qualified to offer advice in my field than I am in his.
Show me a verifiable track record of success in web technologies and I'm all ears. Heresay and verbal claims of prior greatness carry as much weight with me as they would with a court of law.
Your website will never need upgrading or updating!
This one is the most ludicrous of the lot. Really, words fail me on this.....it's totally surreal that people could be so gullible and naive! OK.....try and get your head around the concept of buying something that never ages. Because what they're claiming is that you could buy some software today that will somehow morph itself into different entities to take advantage of new technology that gets introduced as the years go on. Presumably it will automatically patch itself to close security loopholes as well.....before those vulnerabilities even exist.
If you feel there may be some merit in the statements that they're making then you need to go to your nearest car dealer and ask to buy a model that will never age or deteriorate. One that will run on any fuel source that's ever going to be introduced in the future! But just make sure that if hover cars are ever introduced then it already has the capacity to float through the air. After all.....you wouldn't want to be caught out would you?
So the message here is just be aware that not everything is what it seems to be on the internet! Talk is cheap! Some "businesses" tend to make everything as technical and complicated as possible in order to put up a smokescreen around the actual reality of the situation. Blinding you with science in effect.
We've always taken the reverse approach where we advise and then give a real world analogy to illustrate what we mean. We're totally transparent, and more often than not, what we say differs greatly from what others say. But we deal in reality, nothing else. Reality may not be what you want to face, because many people still believe in this mythical "Magic Bullet" of SEO, but reality is what it is.
So when you come across spurious claims regarding anything that is web related, just stop and think whether you would invest in any other product or service in the real world based on some of the assertions that these people are making? Evaluate internet based activity as a related aspect of your everyday life where the same rules apply.....not as some parallel universe where logic and common sense have been completely thrown overboard.
As 2016 goes on, keep your eye out for more "Wondrous Stories" appearing. And if you want to Live Happily Ever After......don't waste your time with fantasy!
As you probably know, search has changed a lot in recent years! But are you taking advantage of the new possibilities that now exist due to the advancements in technology and actually delivering the answers?
Because recent developments are now taking these processes onto another level.....and that level is Artificial Intelligence!
It's called RankBrain...... which is the name that Google have given to it's machine-learning artificial intelligence system. Previously any changes in search algorithms had to be programmed into the system by humans, but now it has the capacity to learn, and to expand it's knowledge and efficiency based on the original parameters that were applied. It's goal is to take search queries, interpret what the user's intent is, and then deliver the best possible results for them.
Now did you see the important word there? Intent! What Google is looking to achieve is to match the user's intention to the optimum results. Ten years ago people were using shorter search terms.....but now both the end users' knowledge and the technology have advanced beyond all recognition! Users are now putting in questions, and they want answers. Google's role is to evaluate the available options and provide the best answers based on the analysis of user intent.
Of course there's now the mobile factor as well.....with queries on these devices exceeding those of desktop computers! Which brings us onto Voice Search! Let me give you an example how this can work! If you go to your voice search on mobile and say "OK Google.....What do People say about WebSpain"......you should get a search delivered with the answer at the top!
Points to bear in mind are that the search request was delivered in plain conversational language......not a sequence of robotic disconnected keywords. Keywords used within the content in a natural manner are still very important, but if you're using these keywords then you must expand upon them and deliver the answers within the actual page content. If you don't, people will hit the back button (which Google monitors), and eventually your listing will no longer show in the search results as users are telling Google that the result wasn't acceptable. And RankBrain learns from that.
In the quoted example I could probably have got the same result by just putting in those keywords and nothing else!
But how long before the search engine algorithms figure that the end result was I didn't deliver any answers?
Do you see the critical factor? Keywords and empty cliches that deliver nothing in the way of valid information are now no longer acceptable!
Example.....it's no good just telling people how easy it is to buy a house in Spain......you've got to demonstrate how!
Unfortunately, many site owners still seem to think they can get away with the practices that were prevalent back in 2005, things like keyword jamming and overloading metatags.....but those days are gone. Do that now while simultaneously delivering no content value and you'll be dropping like a stone.
Going forward, think of these Google initiatives as a quality filter. Deliver quality, and in principle you should see the benefits. The key is knowing your clients' needs, requirements, possible questions or doubts etc......and then delivering the answers as a tangible benefit to them within your content. So basically you're pre-empting the question and making it easier for search engines to recommend you.
If you know your business, then you know the answers! So just make sure that you're delivering them.....and not just on your site but right across Social Media as well. Because if you don't......your competitors will!
This relates to the most important aspect of what we do.....Security! Because it's estimated that there are millions of outdated and totally obsolete Content Management System websites still in circulation. And they're all playing Russian Roulette!
Besides looking very dated.....which isn't going to inspire potential customers, the majority are not even mobile compatible. Consequently they're unlikely to get any business through mobile searches as their sites will not render correctly on different devices. And when you consider that the majority of internet searches now come via mobiles, then it's obvious that their potential target audience is going to be severely restricted.
Obsolete websites can be a business killer in terms of your credibility, but there's more to it than that.....there's Security!
We covered this in some depth nearly a year ago in The Life of a Website and it holds just as true today. Nothing has changed except the obsolete sites have now become even more vulnerable. Essentially, the stakes have been raised!
If you have an outdated site (and you will have had notification of this) you are potentially at the mercy of site vandals, script kiddies, activists motivated by current political events, and more organised groups that will take advantage (in a very clinical manner) of any weaknesses. This is usually accomplished by injecting malicious scripts into sites followed by a redirect for visitors to something like the Neutrino Trojan exploit kit server.
Therefore your visitors will be compromised by this weakness as well......making your site a danger to everybody, not just yourself.
The main target for that particular exploit (and there are many others) is WordPress content management systems.....which we don't use. In fact we won't even allow these sites on our servers. Not that it's a bad CMS by any means, but there are just too many poorly built and outdated WordPress sites out there done by hobbyists and amateurs, and they represent a security risk to everybody.
So while the risk you face isn't as severe as those people, the risk is still there. All we can do is make you aware of it.
If you choose to continue with the insecure site, we will just migrate it onto a Legacy Server that still supports the obsolete and deprecated server side scripts that these applications need.
Obviously running outdated site and server software is not exactly the ideal scenario for you or us. So moving these sites onto another server so as not to prejudice the status of current up to date sites is what we have to do. Remember that the longer it goes on the more the risk increases to you and everybody else. So don't play Russian Roulette with your business website........because one day you may get the loaded barrel.
Facebook have announced that it has now completed indexing the 2 trillion posts that have been made to it's network!
In addition, it's made them searchable! So what does this mean to you as a business?
Well if you consider that billions of people spend 40 minutes of their time on FaceBook every day, and 20% of their time online is on this network......quite a lot. FaceBook's objective seems to be to position themselves as direct search rivals to Google. Their thinking seems to be if so many people are on their site, why make them navigate to Google and Bing for information? From now on, if they search for "Spain Property" on FaceBook they'll get a list of results related to this topic.....not just pages but also posts.
So if your FaceBook page has no recent activity and very few likes then that's not really going to inspire confidence in potential clients. The fact that your website looks great and has good Google positioning is irrelevant......because they may not even look at it.
I'm certainly getting more business related enquiries on FaceBook, so make sure you have mail notifications for these in place or you could miss potential client enquiries! Remember that social media activity happens in real time.....not Monday to Friday office hours! If you don't make contact promptly then somebody else will, and that's lost business.
This initiative by Facebook is without doubt a challenge to Google’s authority as the world’s most dominant search engine. So you can see how essential it is that you show up on these listings, because if people can find what they want on FaceBook, why would they go to Google or Bing?
It also gives potential clients the opportunity to see how you interact with enquiries posted publicly. Therefore, if your previous responses are unhelpful, or you don't even respond at all, then users are just going to go elsewhere. So in a sense, interested parties can now also evaluate you as well. It goes without saying that anything negative on there is now going to be searchable as well, so you need to ensure that nobody can post on your business page except you.
I know some of you will say that you don't like Social Media, but the fact remains that it's a very important marketing and promotional tool. And the bad news is that it's not going to go away. It's big now, and it's only going to get bigger with initiatives like this.....so don't get left behind!
Over the years I've encountered a regular misunderstanding by potential clients regarding web design. It's the scenario where someone focuses solely on aesthetics at the expense of everything else.
In fact with some people, critical elements like content quality and user friendliness don't matter one bit. All that matters is their personal vision of what it should look like, with no regard whatsoever to the needs and expectations of their target audience. It's what I describe as "Flowery Syndrome".
Points to consider:
1. Websites are business assets whose sole focus must be to achieve specific business objectives. They are not your own personal scrapbook.
2. Google doesn't rank your site on how artistic and pretty it is.....it doesn't care. And quite frankly neither do your target audience.
3. In a similar way that the user and Google doesn't care if your artwork is on a par with the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, they're also not interested in whether you have the literary expertise of an Oscar Wilde. Communicate in plain language with no ludicrous catch phrases or ambiguous cliches.
4. Content must engage the readers and involve them.....it's not a platform for you to give a speech about "me, me, me".
5. Understand that your website is no more than a marketing tool to enable you to generate business. Don't trivialise it with self indulgent ideas that are not related in any way to making money. Logically, why would you want to put anything on your site whatsoever that is not a business initiative?
6. You want stunning visuals? Then introduce great pictures relating to your business which will generate a need and desire within the user to purchase your products or services! Random pieces of meaningless artwork, (or even worse, cartoon elements) littered around your site are not going to do that. You're just diminishing your credibility to prospective clients.
7. You are building the website for others.....not yourself. Just because you'd like the site to have every colour of the rainbow in it doesn't mean that everybody else would!
8. If you're looking for a web designer, make sure you get one that understands how business actually works in the real world. Because you will need their input to advise you on best practices so you don't fall into the situation I've described.
Now don't take all these points as meaning the appearance of your site doesn't matter....because it does! A lot! Your site needs to have a professional appearance, it needs to be user-friendly, and the content must relate to the user while delivering value to them.
When somebody gets to your site you definitely need the "WOW" factor to hit them. But let's back it up with some quality content that actually imparts information, along with a great user experience. That scenario is infinitely preferable to introducing the useless, distracting trivia and irrelevance associated with "Flowery Syndrome".
We're reluctant webhosts! We never wanted to provide web hosting. All we ever wanted to do was build websites.....nothing else. But back in 2003 we reached the point where it was impossible to get anything done on potential clients' hosting services because more often than not they were unreliable, slow, and in some cases unfit for purpose. So we had no choice, we had to provide hosting ourselves!
We wanted the best that we could realistically afford at the time. So for some years we struggled to break even on hosting......just to be able to build sites. Then we'd outgrow our resources, so costs increased once again! In 2007 we had to move from reseller accounts to virtual private servers (VPS), then in 2009 onto a Hybrid VPS. By 2011 we'd outgrown all flavours of VPS's.....and it was onto Dedicated Servers!
We share with no one, we don't sell hosting to outsiders, and only our clients with our sites are on there. We actually turn hosting business away every week simply because we do not want a bad neighbourhood.
We're not server administrators.....we're web designers. So we pay for the highest level of server management that the datacentre can provide, with a guaranteed 5 minute response time 24/7/365......using the same upstream provider since 2009. We're in good hands.....and so are you!
Now let's look at some of the different aspects related to hosting!
Server uptime: Our uptime percentage over the last year is 99.97%. That figure is up there with some of the best in the industry! It means that over the last 12 months the server has only been inaccessible for 2 hours 37 minutes. And approximately an hour of that was down to scheduled network maintenance performed overnight GMT.
How do we know if a server goes down? We use a remote monitoring service to ping our server (send a signal) every minute of every day. If the remote server doesn't get a response it sends me an instant text message that something may be wrong. It's no joke getting a false alarm at 4AM, but it happens. You see why we never wanted to be web hosts?
Backups: Many hosts claim to have them.....but don't always take that as read! We actually do.....using the industry leading R1Soft backup system.
Every Monday/Wednesday/Friday starting at 12AM an automated process makes a backup of every site on the server, and then stores it on another server in the same datacentre. It repeats this process throughout the month till it eventually reaches it's maximum of 10 backup points. Then the oldest backup is replaced with the newest, and the process continues.
Security: One very important point here! If you are still running on outdated software that has now been withdrawn, then none of the factors below will help you much. This is because your site may well have security vulnerabilities that cannot be patched due to age, so an intruder could potentially just walk straight in without the alarm going off. If this applies to you, then you've already been informed of the situation. Now here's some (but not all) of the security processes that are in effect:
We take the hosting side of the business very seriously.....despite the fact that we never wanted to be webhosts. But as we had no choice, we thought that just like design, we'd better do it to a standard that surpasses all others.....so we did!
Let's summarise the facts:
1. Unlike others, we are not hosting resellers on low budget shared public servers. These are our servers!
2. We turn away business regularly because we won't expose our clients to any potential risk by taking in outsiders.
3. We have a solid infrastructure that is professionally managed and running on business class networks.
4. Throughout the years we've invested back into the business to deliver a better quality hosting environment.
So don't compare what we do with others.....because not all web hosting is created equal!
Google and Twitter appear to be getting closer as the announcement has been made that Tweets will now be appearing in Google search results. Initially this will only take effect on mobile search results in English, but desktop searches will be following right behind.
What this means to you is that even though you may not have the search engine positioning that you'd like, you can now fast track your products or services into the results via Twitter.
The same method applies to this as with all Social Media marketing.....a little and often, because the shelf-life of these posts tends to be about 6 to 8 hours. After that it's old news. Choose your times carefully though, early morning and early evening is primetime for target audiences.
Now I know some of you tend to be less than enthusiastic about Twitter, and I readily admit that I spend no time on there other than to post a few tweets a couple of times a day. But the fact remains that it does reach a huge target audience.
And with these latest changes where they will show up on the Google search results, I'd advise you all to take advantage of this opportunity.
As with all Social Media, remember that you don't have to like it to use it. You just have to keep in mind that it's part of the game that we all have to play these days. And now this part of the game just became a whole lot more important.
So are you taking FaceBook seriously? If not, maybe it's time to reappraise the situation? Simply because FaceBook is now referring more traffic to websites than Google.
A new industry study shows that in July 2015 FaceBook pulled ahead by three percentage points in referral traffic to 38.2% compared with Google's 35.2%. Contrast that with 2012, when Google had 50% and FaceBook 10%......and you'll see that the balance of power has completely changed.
This is something that I've noticed for some time with this site, as we generally get a lot more hits from FaceBook than from Google's organic search. And that's despite the fact that we sit on the top of the search engine rankings. At first I thought this could be just an isolated occurrence, but it's now been confirmed by recent industry studies from www.parsely.com.
Want to improve your Social Media performance? Well in my experience, the best method to employ with all social media marketing is a little and often. Bear in mind that the average post on these networks has a "shelf life" of about 6 hours, so you need to be feeding information through on a regular basis. Just a few minutes a couple of times a day is all you need.
Be aware that you need to get a wide network of friends, followers etc in order to maximise your outreach. Because there's no mileage whatsoever in just talking to yourself. Try to engage with people by posting content that they'll want to share and interact with......but pick your times carefully. Early on in the morning and then again early evening is when you will reach the maximum audience. It goes without saying that a link to your site must be included, and the biggest attention grabber is a great image! The lead image is critical!
It's a numbers game! So the bigger the numbers the more you increase your odds of success. As an example, I have over 10K friends, likes, followers etc across all the networks. So in principle, this content could be seen by many thousands of those today. Nothing like this has ever been possible before, so use it to your best advantage. And best of all it costs you nothing.....other than a few minutes of your time!
The fact of the matter is that Google is now not the only show in town. So don't ignore the power of Social Media referrals or you could end up "outside looking in". It was possible to get away with that back in 2012, but those days are gone. And they're not coming back!