Darkstar Media: Blog Categories

Category Archives: Web Developer

New website launch – The Sanderson Group

Jim Sanderson GroupThis week we are happy to announce the launch on a new brochure website for The Sanderson Group. For this project we handled both the graphic design work as well as the development.

The graphic design work had to stay within the Scotia Wealth Management branding standards, so we worked hand in hand with their branding team. For the development we created a custom WordPress theme using Twitter Bootstrap as our main CSS backbone. Bootstrap is great for creating responsive website design so the site will look great on any device.



New eCommerce website for my Artwork

justin blayney fine art shopI am happy to announce the launch of my upgraded website www.justinblayney.com. What is different from my old site is that I have now included an eCommerce component to my website where you can buy my hand made silk screen prints online in a few easy steps. These prints are a great way to acquire affordable fine art. Please check it out, share with your friends and I am open to all feedback about my website.

This website was created using WordPress and WooCommerce. I custom made the theme using twitter bootstrap.



Using Twitter Bootstrap for Web Design and Development

thinkinsure twitter bootstrap websiteWe have recently jumped on the Twitter Bootstrap bandwagon and are very happy with the decision. If you don’t know, Twitter bootstrap is a web framework that is “mobile first”. When they developed the framework they solved many of the issues that web developers face when dealing with responsive design such as how columns will collapse and stack as the screen gets smaller, re-sizing images to the device, managing device specific content, plus many more.  Traditionally we built websites that looked great on the desktop, then would add CSS and javascript to make it look good on mobile devices. With this approach we had to pick certain mobile browsers sizes to concentrate our efforts on such as the  iPhone and iPad (as the were the most popular). If you go to any smart phone retailer now you will see a huge variety of screen sizes, so with our original approach many of these new screen sizes would have wonky looking websites.

So using bootstrap and a mobile first approach our websites now look good on every device and screen size. Over the last 6 months we have developed a custom bootstrap website (thinkinsure.ca) and a WordPress Bootstrap theme (memorycentre.ca and roofing-solutions.ca).

Custom Bootstrap Website: thinkinsure.ca

This project was 6 months in the making. Darkstar Media handled both the design and development of this insurance company website. We worked hand in hand with thinkInsure’s SEO specialist and made sure the user experience was great for all devices and is fully optimized for search engines.

WordPress Bootstrap Theme: memorycentre.ca and roofing-solutions.ca

These are the first 2 completed websites to use the Darkstar Media WordPress bootstrap theme. The theme is simple to customize because of the bootstrap framework. It has custom callouts (calls to action) for the home page and internal pages which are very easy to manage. For memorycentre.ca we also designed their logo and set up their social media presence.

roofing-solutions.ca Bootstrap WordPress themememorycentre.ca Bootstrap WordPress theme

 



4 new responsive WordPress websites launched

Hello,

We have been quite busy at Darkstar Media recently. Over the last month we have launched 4 responsive WordPress websites. Edson Legal, Monster Gym, Construction DIB, and Vault Mortgage.

edson legalMonster Gym

vault mortgage
construction dib



Kanara Medical Spa WordPress Website Launched

Kanara Medical SpaWe are proud to announce the launch of Kanara Medical Spa.

For Kanara Medical Spa we handled graphic design of logo, website and all print materials. We also developed a responsive custom WordPress theme and handled search engine optimization for the website including the keyword research.



Responsive Website Launched: Triton Background Checks

Triton Background Checks

We are pleased to announce the launch of a new website, Triton Background Checks. This is a fully responsive hand coded website which has web form integration and clear “calls to action” which  lead users towards filling the forms. It works seamlessly with a WordPress blog which is used to handle all the latest news articles and company announcements.

Special attention was paid to SEO (Search Engine Optimization). They are currently on page one of Google and we plan to keep them there.

 



What your website can do for your business

More and more people are turning to the internet to search for goods and services for obvious reasons; the internet is fast, convenient, and always “open”. Consumers no longer have to wait for regular business hours to find the answers they need, or to buy the products they want.

It’s pretty safe to say that if you want to compete in today’s business world, you’re going to need strong internet presence and for that, you’ll need a website.

By not having a website, you miss out on countless marketing and business opportunities as well. Your business simply isn’t seen and you end up losing a multitude of potential clients. In today’s post, I’ve compiled a small list of opportunities you could miss out on by not building a website for your business.

Credibility

Having a functional, responsive, professional looking website, lends credibility to your small business, particularly if you happen to run a home based business and lack a storefront.

It can be difficult to have clients or customers take you seriously when you’re running your business from home. A professional looking website instills a greater level of confidence in your abilities on the part of the consumer. It also shows potential customers you aren’t stuck in the past, and are able to change with changing times.

Marketing Opportunities

The internet offers a massive platform for marketing. A lot of these opportunities are often low cost to free. Obviously, as with anything else, you’ll only get out of it what you put into it but the web offers so much more output for your input. Some examples include:

  • 24/7 Advertising – your website is available for viewing twenty four hours a day, seven days a week. By adding an image gallery and/or portfolio, your site becomes an online “brochure” of sorts, where your work is displayed at all times and offers convenient, any time access for your customers to gain information regarding your business.
  • Blogging – by creating and posting engaging content frequently, your site will rise in the search engine rankings. This allows your business to be located more effectively when consumers use keywords to search for goods or services they may need.
  • Social Media – social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter, etc., provide a low to no cost platform for posting and sharing content. By writing engaging content on your blog then sharing it to social media sites, you allow other users to read your content and share on their own pages … reaching thousands of potential consumers at practically no cost to you.

Ecommerce

If you’re selling actual products, your website can become your storefront. A virtual store where your customers can shop your merchandise, order, pay, and have their items shipped to them, all from the comfort of their homes.

With the help of easy to install plug-ins, you can place PayPal buttons for payment, information forms to get to know your customers better, and there are even plug-ins that allow your visitors to sign up for email newsletters; keeping them informed of new products, special deals, and sales.

Customer Service

Providing great customer service is the cornerstone of any successful business. Being able to engage with customers and provide a level of warmth to that communication via keyboard and screen, can be difficult but it doesn’t have to be.

Writing a FAQ’s page, adding a comments section to a blog, and providing simple email forms are a great way to start a dialogue and furnish information to your customers both current and potential.

A FAQ’s page allows consumers to access information they need quickly and in an organized manner, while a comments section on say your blog, allows visitors to your site to post questions or comments and provides an easy format for you to reply. It’s a bit warmer than email and your responses are on display for other users to read and judge how you interact with clients. Email forms on certain pages provide a convenient way for consumers to get in touch with you without having to search for an email address.

Expanding Your Market

The internet allows you to expand your market in a way that wasn’t possible before, without setting up an actual brick and mortar store front in various locations.

By creating a website for your business, you can harness that power and expand your customer base miles and miles from your current location; opening up unlimited opportunities to sell goods and services that may not be desirable in the area you live, but highly desirable in another. Your website is the store front you may not be able to provide in that desirable location.

Now that I’ve given you a taste of what you could be missing out on by not having a website for your business, I hope you’ll see the value and power of the internet. By simply setting up a website, you could open up a whole new market, spend less on marketing, and get to know your clients on a level you would not be able to unless you had an actual store front.

Setting up your own site is easy and cost effective. You can do it yourself or hire a professional web designer to handle it for you. It really is that easy!

 



The Benefits of Adding a WordPress Blog to your Website – Part 2

Today’s post is a follow up from last week’s post when I talked about how important it is to add a blog to your business website. As I wrote the post, questions I felt my readers might have kept popping up in my mind and to keep last week’s post from turning into a three thousand word opus in which I would lose some of my readers; I opted to split the topic into two separate blog posts. It’s great to list the “whys” of blogging but without the “how’s”; I felt I was leaving you all with more questions than answers. Today I will attempt to answer those questions.

As we discussed in last week’s post, having a strong internet presence is essential to the growth and success of not just your internet business, but brick and mortar businesses as well. Blogging is an easy, low cost way of upping your internet presence and getting you the recognition your brand needs to grow.

What Do I Blog About?

While this part may seem like a no brainer, a lot of people struggle to come up with topics; particularly if your brand involves a product or service that only pertains to a select portion of the population.

Obviously you’ll want to blog about topics concerning your niche such as, new research involving your area of expertise, but you’ll need to branch out topic wise to connect with other readers. Other readers who will share your content on their own social media pages should always be in your sights as well.

Coming up with relevant topics to engage these “other readers” can be difficult but it isn’t impossible. Writing about strategies you use with your employees or vendors, helpful ways to connect with customers or how to lists are all useful and relevant topics which will help get your blog noticed.

What Format Should I Use?

In this day and age, with so many of us getting or news and information in small chunks on the internet, it’s very useful to post in small chunks. That stuff you learned in high school English? Keep the grammar and sentence structure but the rest you need to let go of in the blogging world.

Splitting up your paragraphs the way I’m doing now is very effective in retaining readers. We have now trained ourselves to scan more than read in depth. Every time you break up your paragraphs, you’re making it easier for your reader to stay interested in what you have to say.

Headings and subheadings are important! Having headings separate different positions in your posts making it easier for people to read and it helps with SEO. Create your subheadings and bold them. It catches the reader’s eye when they’re scanning your piece.

WordpressGraphics matter too! Break up your text with pictures. It relaxes the eye and makes your piece more engaging as do bulleted lists.

How Often Should I Post?

Consistently posting engaging content without overwhelming your readership can be difficult to balance. Posting often helps your business rise in search engine rankings but posting too often may cause some readers to lose interest.

A good rule of thumb is to strive for two posts a week. You want your readers excited to read your posts but you don’t want them to have to wait for too long for new content or they may lose interest in your blog.

The same can be said for posting too often. You want to post just enough to keep your readers wanting more. Twice a week, possibly a Monday and a Friday, works to keep a nice balance.

Some of you may be asking about word count right about now. Word count, while important for SEO, should be taken with a grain of salt, meaning … say what you need to say and no more. Try to keep it short and sweet while getting your message across. If a post is too long … you risk readers disengaging. If it’s too short … you miss out on SEO. At least 500 words should do the job for SEO.

What If I’m Short On Time, Or My Writing Skills Aren’t Up To Par?

The solutions to both of these problems go hand in hand. First, the more you write, the better your writing skills will get. So even if you feel your writing skills aren’t the greatest, you should still blog. There are a few things you can do to help you along while you strengthen these skills and free up your time.

If you don’t feel your writing is the greatest, enlist a friend who has a better grasp of it to edit your posts. There’s no shame in asking for help. If you need it, find someone you trust and ask. The worst they could do is say no.
Also, and this will help if you feel you simply don’t have the time to blog regularly; you can hire a freelance writer/professional blogger to help you out.

Many of these professionals are available to help you write quality blog posts, edit what you have or simply write the entire thing for you. You supply the topic (many will come up with topics for you) and they can supply the content. If you contract with a freelance writer, you’re guaranteed a regular posting schedule.

One caveat to hiring a writer online … many of these writers are not actually writers and do not even speak English. You will need to interview a candidate thoroughly, ask them questions, look at their writing samples, and ask them for a test sample with a topic you provide. Remember, you get what you pay for in a business like this so if their rate seems too good to be true … it’s because you’ll be getting sub-par content.

Hopefully you found this two part series helpful and I’d like to know how setting up your blog and delivering your content is going so please let me know in the comments section. Happy blogging!

 

 



Putting the Social in your Website

Are you looking for a quick, low to no cost way to beef up your internet marketing campaign for your website? The answer can be found in integrating your website with social media.

There are over 2.5 million websites integrated with Facebook and other social media sites and with good reason; with nearly 1.4 billion people logging on to Facebook alone – spending an average of 15 hours a week reading, hitting “like”, and sharing content – it’s an internet entrepreneur’s dream come true. Social media is tantamount to having someone else do your marketing for you and not having to pay them a dime; you simply provide engaging content and let your readers do the rest!

So how do you get started integrating your site with social media? It’s pretty simple really and that’s what today’s post is all about.

Why Social Media?

 
social media iconsIf you think of your website as your internet “home base” and your social media pages as an extension of that; it’s easy to see why this type of networking is so important. With social media you’re able to increase your engagement with customers as well as build customer loyalty, and grow your brand recognition. The more you can engage and interact with your readers or customers, the more likely they are to give you their repeat business.

Also, social media has a definite effect on SEO rankings. Social shares are quickly becoming the new form of link building. When your original content is shared across social media, you’re creating links without having to spend time building them yourself.

The more social shares, the more opportunity your site has to rise in the search engine rankings. I don’t need to tell you how much your search engine ranking contributes to new users finding and using your site. Any opportunity to raise your search engine rankings the right way should be taken.

Let’s look at a few ways you can accomplish this …

Know Which Pages Attract Your Customers

 
There are so many social networking platforms out there; there really is something for everyone. Some of the most popular would include: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google+, tumbler, LinkedIn, Pinterest, and YouTube.

It’s important to do your research and decide which social media pages your customers are more likely to visit. If you’re catering to a younger, hipper demographic, something like Instagram or Twitter may be where you need to focus your efforts. A more mature crowd might frequent sites like Facebook and Pinterest. You will max yourself out if you try to keep current content on all of them so start with focusing on what your customers or readers use.

Once you’ve got your information, create accounts with your chosen social networking sites in the name of your business and start posting content to them. Fresh, engaging, content is the key to the success of any website these days so write or blog about as much as you can having to do with your niche without drowning your readership in the trivial. Your content is what draws readers to your site, be sure it is rich and informative enough to make them want to share it with friends and come back later for more.

Incorporate Social Media Buttons

 
These are the little buttons you see floating or static on the sides or bottoms of websites you visit. Your social media buttons should be linked to the pages you created in the step above.
There are numerous widgets and plugins available for this; a simple Google search will reward you with tons of choices and WordPress has many options available too.

The placement of the buttons is important as well:

  • Make sure they are easy to see.
  • Large enough to attract attention but not overwhelm your content.
  • Place them strategically. Either on the left hand side of your page or at the top under your header.
  • Place them on home and landing pages but try not to overdo it.

Don’t let your social media buttons become obtrusive. You want to enhance your visitor’s experience not intrude upon it.

Feature Share Buttons on Content or Product Pages

 
share this Social networking share buttons are fantastic. They enable your visitors to share your content they find interesting on their own social media pages. Once a visitor has shared your content, all of their friends see it as well which will attract more visitors to your site.

Share buttons are another reason why great content is important. The more you can get your visitors or customers to share; the better chance you have of generating new leads which hopefully turn into new customers.

Like social media buttons, the placement of share buttons is important. You want them on blog posts and product pages so that your readers or customers have a chance to share your content throughout their entire site viewing or purchasing experience. It’s a bit like peer pressure. You can’t underestimate the power of social pressure in marketing. When friends see someone purchase something, they want it too.

Facebook and Other Social Media Login Comment Boxes

 
facebook comment box Login comment boxes posted on your site allow visitors to post a comment after they log in to their respective social media pages to your site. Once they have posted a comment on your site using the log in box, their comment is posted in their feeds.

Their friends will see the comment along with your site link and hopefully have their interest peaked enough to click on over to your site and check out what their friend felt compelled to comment on. You have a new lead.
This is also a fantastic way to control comment postings on your website. People are more compelled to leave an honest, thoughtful comment if their name is attached to it.

Hopefully I’ve given you a few reasons and ways to jump into integrating social media with your website. It can be a bit daunting at first, but once you establish a good social media audience – your readers will do the work for you!



Common Mistakes of a DIY Web Design

If you run a small business these days, a strong internet presence is essential, which means … you’re going to need a website. The process is certainly daunting if you don’t know much about website design and the first question you need to ask yourself is do you go the DIY route or do you hire a professional web designer.
Your website will be the first thing a potential customer sees when considering purchasing your goods or services on the web. It needs to look professional and make a great first impression; after all, it directly represents you and your company’s attention to detail. While it’s okay to go with sites like WordPress and do it yourself … there are a few important mistakes that can be made.

In today’s post, I’d like to examine a few key things about website design many DIYers miss. Some of these elements, which may seem small at first, will impact your site and ultimately the growth of your small business in a big way, so let’s gets started shall we?

Scalability

Designing a scalable site is important because it allows your web site to grow. As your traffic increases so will the demands for new features, tools, and functionality. This is often over looked by users designing their own sites because their main goal is to get the site up and running. It’s sort of like expecting a toddler to fit into the same shoe for the rest of its life … it’s not going to happen. Web designers know how to build websites with scalability in mind and can help maximize your site’s ability to grow in form and function for life of your business. They can do this in such a way that it will be easier for you to maintain it yourself, with little to no downtime.

Clean Code

Just as important as scalability is having clean code. Many DIY site builders simply don’t write good, clean code. Clean code will be free of errors and clutter. It will be standards-compliant as well as using tags and structures of each coding language for their intended purposes. This practice helps to prevent error messages for your visitors as well as an increase in page load time. All of these things increase the likelihood of visitors to your site becoming users. Working with a web designer eliminates the chance of having dirty code as the backbone of your site.

Web Standards

Professional web designers follow web standards. Web standards are a way for coders and designers across the world to ensure they’re all using the same or similar language to build sites. There are four coding languages accepted as standard: HTML, XML, CSS, and Java Script. By using these languages, web developers ensure a more stable web, decrease development and maintenance time on your site as well as form a common knowledge base for all website developers. Using web standards also makes each page built genuinely cross-browser and cross-platform accepted. This means that whichever browser your visitors use, be it Firefox, Chrome, Internet Explorer, or any other browser, your page will locatable and viewable.

Maximizing Your Site’s SEO

SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization which is what determines the visibility of your website in a search engine’s un-paid search results. Basically, when you Google a word or term, the search engine searches for sites with those specific keywords and returns the results in ranking order. Since studies have shown that web users are less likely to visit sites beyond the first two pages of results to their query, it’s in your business’ best interest to get on those first few pages. A professional web developer can help you maximize your SEO potential. Admittedly, DIY sites such as WordPress have plugins to help you with SEO; however, they can be difficult to understand. A web designer can help you move through all of the technical jargon and help you optimize for search engines more effectively.

Professional Direction

The main job of a professional web designer is to provide direction to their clients. A client will explain what they want and a web designer makes it happen, but their job doesn’t end there. A web designer can sort of take a peek into the future and let you know what your website might need to accommodate future growth. They can tell you what sort of site you’ll want built based on your needs along with what sort of graphics and how to draft your content. You don’t get this kind of valuable advice with a DYI website builder. Web designers are there to answer questions about things like plugins and add ons as well as how to increase site traffic and the like.

Sometimes your budget can’t support the fees commanded by a professional web designer, especially when you’re just starting your business; in these instances, a DIY website builder is a perfectly viable and cost effective alternative for a professional looking site.

As you can see, hiring a professional web designer has its advantages for both the look and the function of your site. It pays to spend some money upfront to save you headaches down the road.

 

 



Or Call 416-450-5439