Three(3) Bilingual Healthcare WordPress websites launched

Darkstar Media is very pleased to announce the launch of 3 Bilingual Healthcare WordPress websites, Ontario Prenatal Education, FASD Ontario, and Beststart Resources. We designed the custom WordPress themes, set up all 3 websites to be bilingual using the Polylang plugin (and some custom bilingual theme integration). In addition, one of the websites has a fully bilingual woocommerce shopping cart. As always the sites are fully responsive and SEO optimized. Two of the websites include postal code searches which are custom functions that we developed.

 

Beststart Resources Shopping Cart FASD Ontario Ontario Prenatal Education

Mycaminobed.com is launched!

mycamnobed.comDarkstar Media is proud to present our most recent website project, mycaminobed.com. For mycaminobed.com we handled both the design and development of the website with a very strong focus on SEO. It includes an interactive Google map which allows users to find the closest hotel to their current location while they are hiking the Camino Francés, as well as a search by stage element which allows them to plan their trip in advance.

We also consulted and trained mycaminobed.com on the best way to build & manage their social media presence. We are now actively managing a Google Ad Words advertising campaign to help drive some traffic to this brand new website. This site was integrated with booking.com so the users can use this site on a daily basis, and at the end of the day find and book a room to spent the night in while hiking the Camino de Santiago.

New responsive website launched

Evan Thompson and Associates website
We are pleased to launch a new responsive website for Evan Thompson and Associates, a Toronto-based communications coaching and content development firm. We rebranded, slimmed down, optimized, and deployed our very own Twitter Bootstrap WordPress Theme to create a responsive framework. In addition to developing the WordPress theme, we built a custom media gallery plugin to accommodate Evan Thompson’s media interviews and extensive articles he writes for many major news outlets.

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

Google Sending Out Responsive Website Warnings

Is your website reponsive?
mobility warningDo you know what that means? As per wiki, it means
“Responsive web design (RWD) is an approach to web design aimed at crafting sites to provide an optimal viewing experience—easy reading and navigation with a minimum of resizing, panning, and scrolling—across a wide range of devices (from desktop computer monitors to mobile phones).”

As of April 21st, Google has announced they will be expanding their use of a site’s mobile-friendliness as a key-ranking signal. This change is going to affect all mobile searches, in all languages around the world and impact search results significantly.

As a result of this significant change, Google has been sending notifications to all the webmasters who have existing non-mobile friendly websites. The message also states that the pages will be affected in search results for smartphone users.

Some of the most notable changes include:

  • The Google bot has to be allowed to crawl JavaScript and CSS in order to pass the mobile-friendly test
  • The mobile friendliness is determined by the page level, rather than site wide
  • Tablets are not being affected
  • Google is working with a dedicated mobile index

The fact is that savvy webmasters already have these changes in effect.  Google has been telling us for years that it was coming. However, with this latest announcement, there are a number of webmasters who have a compelling reason to take action.

Now you have to decide if implementing a mobile site or responsive site is right for you. Mobile sites can be customized for mobile users, and they provide a cheaper and easier design. However, responsive designs are more flexible and the configuration that is recommended by Google; however, it does cost more upfront.

The right option is really going to depend on what your site does. The key is to ensure that your website is relevant, helpful and friendly so that you will have the best possible chance of ranking in organic searches on Google. If you need to get your website responsive to meet the needs of Google’s search engine rules, give us a call today.

Faster Website results with Google PageSpeed Insights

google-pagespeedThe internet has grown exponentially from just a highly competitive sphere for promotion and commerce to an overcrowded marketplace where visibility is essential to success. Most competent web developers are already aware of the more traditional tools of higher internet visibility: keyword saturation, social networking promotion, and search engine optimization. But with more and more competitors targeting your own audience, even optimizing your website for search engines is no longer enough. Surprisingly, a new factor has slowly emerged as a growing influence in site rankings-website speed. Google PageSpeed Insights

In 2010, Google came out publicly saying that no longer were keyword optimization, content and authenticity the only means of ranking a website. Website speed was now becoming a relevant factor in search engine rankings. This meant that if your website loaded into someone’s browser too slowly, the amount of traffic you could attract would significantly decrease. Many studies were conducted based upon this latest revelation about Google’s newest methodology for ranking, and the findings were not good for slower sites. In calculating the time-to-first-byte (the speed at which a browser received the first byte of data from any requested URL), there was a clear and causal relationship between the increasing TTFB and search engine rankings. This indicated that websites with better optimized back-end infrastructure (the background programs that help a website react faster in its interactions with users and thus load faster) are the sites that tend to rank higher in search engine results. So if you want to compete with sites that rank higher than you, posting to Facebook and using Twitter may not be enough.

However, just knowing why website loading speeds are important doesn’t help in speeding those loading times up. For this, you need to learn how to boost load times. This is why Google PageSpeed Insights can be extremely useful in this situation. This is Google’s online app that allows you to enter a website URL and analyze its load time performance as well as offer optimization suggestions. It mainly looks at the front-end infrastructure (the different ways users can and possibly could interact with your site) rather than how your site is best optimized to support these interactions (back-end infrastructure). This entails examining aspects that are independent of your network’s capability, such as images, JavaScript and CSS. When used in conjunction with other analytical applications such as GTmetrix, a developer could assess their front end performance and the back-end, further finding ways to optimize the overall performance of their website.

With this is mind, any developer should utilize PageSpeed Insights and GTmetrix to gauge their site’s loading speed performance. After this, developers should implement these easy fixes below to help them get moving in the right direction.

Leverage Browser Caching

Leverage browser caching refers adding expire or cache control headers to your site. When you do this, you are reducing the number of http requests a server needs to process, which reduces load times. You can add these by modifying your .htaccess file. In WordPress, this is actually easier to do than one might think. All you need to do is access your .htaccess file by going to cPanel and clicking on the File Manager. A pop-up box will appear and you will need to click on the Web Root option, all while ensuring the “Show Hidden File” option is ticked off. Once your .htaccess file is opened, all you need to do is cut and paste these directives at the top of the file:

## EXPIRES CACHING ##
<IfModule mod_expires.c>
ExpiresActive On
ExpiresByType image/jpg “access 1 year”
ExpiresByType image/jpeg “access 1 year”
ExpiresByType image/gif “access 1 year”
ExpiresByType image/png “access 1 year”
ExpiresByType text/css “access 1 month”
ExpiresByType text/html “access 1 month”
ExpiresByType application/pdf “access 1 month”
ExpiresByType text/x-javascript “access 1 month”
ExpiresByType application/x-shockwave-flash “access 1 month”
ExpiresByType image/x-icon “access 1 year”
ExpiresDefault “access 1 month”
</IfModule>
## EXPIRES CACHING ##

After this is done, save your .htaccess file and watch your site’s loading time speed up dramatically.

Plug-Ins

If you are using WordPress, you will also want to install the plug-in W3 Total Cache as an additional way to speed up load times by improving conversion rates and helping pages render (or download) quicker. The plug-in. while speeding up some instances will also slow down others, but you do end up ahead of the game with a better score after installing it. The setup of WordPress is part of the issue and hard to get around.

Minifying CSS

You can minify, or compress your cascading style sheets (the programming language used to change the style of webpages) by going to the website cssminifier.com and following the instructions on how to input the language so you can in return receive the compression language . http://cssminifier.com/

Minifying JavaScript

Javascript is another programming language that allows users to interact with website. To compress the Javascript on your website, you can go to this site-javascript-minifier.com-which operates in pretty much the same way as the CSS minifier site. http://javascript-minifier.com/

Eliminating render-blocking JavaScript and CSS in above-the-fold content

Some Javascript and CSS script in above-the-fold-content (content on a website that is visible without scrolling down) can block rendering of your site and slow load speeds. To remove these scripts, put your Javascript files in the website footer. Also, it is additionally beneficial to try and combine any CSS scripts into others whenever possible. (The W3 Total Cache plug-in can cause an error here)

Once your site developer has fine tuned your website with these easy, basic adjustments, you can look into further ways to speed up your site’s loading time. Some other places for assistance include Pingdom and Google’s own Webmaster Tools  to help optimize any deeper levels of back-end infrastructure to reduce load lagging. Once you have speed up and refined your website as much as possible, you can now focus your attention on what really matters – your content.

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 WordPress Theme Developed for Blue Chip Leasing

Blue Chip LeasingWe are happy to announce the launch of another great new website, Blue Chip Leasing. We both designed and developed this website. The content management system used for this website is WordPress and it is fully responsive.

Special attention was paid to 3 key areas of the website and Blue Chip’s main services, Broker Partners, Vendor Partners, and Equipment Leasing. For these key areas we created Calls to Action on the home page as well as the sidebars.