Why Your Website Needs Local Landing Pages

Local landing pages have become an important role in search engine optimization (SEO) for websites today. Simply by developing city specific landing pages on your website, you can increase your visibility, as well as your organic rankings. This is especially beneficial to businesses who are a single-location service area business (SAB).

For example, say you are a landscaper who travels to their clients in a 30-mile radius, in the event that you travel from your home or office in order to serve your customers, your business is considered a single-location service area business (SAB).

Here are some things you should consider when creating your local landing pages:

  1. Identify the cities in which you serve.
  2. Create a unique page of content on your website for each of these cities.
  3. Link to these pages from a top level menu.

It is important that when you create these local landing pages that you are including relevant and helpful content, specific to each location. Here are some ideas to help you develop unique local landing pages:

  1. How long has your business been providing services?
  2. How long have your customers been with your business?
  3. How are your products or services used within the community?
  4. Is your business involved in the community?
  5. Is your product or service in high demand?
  6. How did your business get it’s start? Talk about the people on your team.

If you are interested in adding local landing pages to your website or to see how we can help better your SEO, contact Windy City Web Designs for more information today.

How to Reduce Size of your Website

In today’s day and age full of young, motivated people, they want their information to be presented to them in an instant. They despise the feeling of slowness, and will ultimately go to a lower tier website if their content isn’t loading quick enough. To keep your website afloat amidst all of this chaos, you must ensure your website loads quickly and the important information is no more than one or two clicks away.

To be perfectly clear, this will not teach you how to reduce the size of your font or how to fit more onto one page, rather, the goal of this post is to provide some tips and tricks on how to reduce file sizes on your website, ultimately decreasing page load times and increasing your user’s happiness and your website’s search engine rankings.

The most time-consumptive part of loading a website is loading the images. The internet browser has to make individual requests for each and every image on the website, thus increasing page loading times. There are two ways to reduce the amount of requests internet browsers have to send:

  1. Reduce Images: The most linear way to reduce the amount of requests is by explicitly reducing the amount of images present on your website.
  2. Use Image Sprites: Image sprites is a quick and easy way to reduce the amount of requests the internet browser will have to send, without removing any of your website’s content. To do this, you have to use CSS (cascading style sheets), which will pull the specific part of the image you need to be displayed in a specific location, while other areas can use other locations from the image.

The best way to conceptualize image sprites is by creating a mashup of your four favorite images in your head. Then, place a grid over the image, sectioning off each image into its own little quadrant. From this, you can pull a specific quadrant’s data (we’ll use quadrant 1) and place it anywhere on the website, while quadrants 2, 3, and 4 can all be placed anywhere else on the website. With this method, the internet browser is only requesting one image’s information, but you are getting 4 times that amount! This method’s efficiency increases exponentially as you add more images and more sprites to the website.

If you are having a difficult time developing a website or would like to completely redesign your site to keep up with the modern times, feel free to contact us at Windy City Web Designs to get the ball rolling.

Tips To Create An Effective Homepage

Your homepage is the most important part of your website. This is the place where every one of your users or customers will visit, allowing you to capture their attention in under 10 seconds. With the following tips, you can ensure that your website’s homepage is effective, functional, and informational.

Tip #1- Choose a layout that is clutter-free and easy to navigate, avoiding using too many images and icons, long texts and banners.

Tip #2- Use high quality photos on your landing page, avoiding using too many, or low quality photos, which will give your website an unprofessional appearance.

Tip #3- Implement call to action buttons. Make these buttons tempting to click by ensuring these buttons do not contain more than four words and avoid improper placement of your call to action button, which can cause it be unseen.

Tip #4- Ensure your text is simple and up-to-date and avoid too much text, which will turn off and tune out your users.

Tip #5- Be sure to include your contact information, allowing you to be easily found. Also, avoid making this necessary information hard to find, ensuring your business information is located in the same place on all of your pages.

Tip #6- Consult with a professional to ensure your homepage is not only effective, but easy to navigate. A professional designer can help you to ensure you are attracting your users, as well as creating a customized homepage for your business.

Windy City Web Designs specializes in modern and custom websites, as well as Internet marketing strategies for businesses in the Chicagoland area. Contact us for more information today.

 

Things To Consider When Creating A Website

Creating a website can be a challenging task. That is why we here at Windy City Web Designs have a few tips for you, which will help to make creating a successful and functional website a bit easier and less stressful.

Create A Domain Name

First and foremost, you will need to create a web-housing plan and a domain name for your business. Your domain name should be your website name, making it easier for people to find your website when searching fro you through the major search engines.

Content Management System

CMS stands for Content Management System, which is the essential core function of visually presenting information on your website. We strongly suggest using WordPress, since it is both user-friendly and intuitive in nature. An added bonus, it is free to use!

Decide On A Theme

Web development has been growing for quite sometime. Everyone has their own type of website, those who have a theme and then those who don’t. For places that don’t have a theme those are the ones who makes things from scratch. As for the ones who do use a theme they start with a web browsing functionality and the design is taken into account.  The theme is defined as a set of files that contains everything for a website, from images, to colors, to fonts and styles.

What To Say

It is important to have an “About Us” section on your website, as it gives you the opportunity to speak directly to your audience, explaining what your brand represents and what your services are. Include certifications and awards as well, as these will help you to stand out from your competitors. Also include contact information, which will make it easier for your clients and to contact and find you.

Hire A Professional

When in doubt, consult with Windy City Web Designs. Not only can we help to create an effective, user-friendly website, but we can also ensure your clients are finding you, increasing your web presence.

Windy City Web Designs Wins Business of the Year for Professional Services

Windy City Web Designs is proud to announce their earning of the Algonquin & Lake In The Hills Chamber of Commerce’s Business of the Year Award for our Professional Services.

From helping small businesses grow their online presence with our customized websites, to effective Internet marketing strategies, Windy City Web Designs has been working hard to help make businesses more successful.

One or our many great success stories is Dana Voyes and her website for her garden and landscape business, Gardens Done Right. Dana originally started with a 4-page website last year, and is now needing to add an additional 22-pages due to a successful year. Dana attributes a big portion of her success to her online presence.

With flexible payment options, our success in designing award winning sites that perform, and our ability to help your company grow, Windy City Web Designs is dedicated to making your website our next success story.

Windy City Web Designs is a full service web, marketing, and branding agency, proudly serving the Chicagoland area. Contact us for more in formation on how we can help increase your businesses online presence.

Managing Your Payments From Clients

Has anyone had trouble with a client who hasn’t paid you for your work? Do you think you would be able to handle the situation even though it has never happened to you? This problem is more common than most think. One of the difficult aspects of being a freelancer is making sure that your clients are paying you on time!

It may seem easy, many good designers and developers don’t know how to organize a payment plan or how to face these problems that could arise with these clients. Here are some tips to follow by on deciding the payment terms and how to manage all the payment process once you have sent the client the invoice.

Setting Up The Payment Terms: First thing you need to do is by making sure your payment terms are very clear. Payments are not all the same, they could differ between the due dates, and for the transaction method you choose. Take a look at the small list of different aspects you might have to take into consideration when setting up the best payment. 

Due Date For PaymentsWhen creating the proposal or invoice you must think about the due date before hand.

  • First when writing up a proposal or invoice, you have to think about the how much money is being spent for you to create this. You need to give your clients time to pay you. There is not a fixed value for enough time but at least 30 days is the best starting point.
  • If say the project you are working on has to be paid for is a small one, you can opt for the due upon receipt payment choice. This means that the client has to pay you as soon as they receive the documentations.

Method Of Payment: There are many different ways you are able to get paid from your clients. Here are the most common and safe ways to get paid.

  • Checks are the main method for payment, but this is not the fastest one. You will have to wait until the check arrives in your mail before you can cash it in.
  • Online payment services are easy and faster to use, such as PayPal, Google Wallet, or through you bank account it self. This way your able to set up automatic payments for the days your bills are due and it will automatically take it directly from your account.
  • Wire transfer is another method, it’s a quick way to get paid but again you will have to share some information like your bank account number with that client. That’s another reason why many don’t like sharing their personal information with clients. That’s why if you go with setting up the payments through your bank, all you need is the address of that company, account number, due date and amount your sending.
  • Last choice would be using a debit or credit card; all you need is to give the merchant your information (numbers on the front of your card, expiration date, and security code) when you are ready to give them the money.

As you can notice there are many different ways you can use for payment methods. The most important thing is that whatever method you choose you must provide all the necessary information for your clients to pay you. The more precise you are, you’ll have a better chance at getting through the whole process quicker so you get paid.

Confirming Terms With Your Clients: Once you have sent your invoice to your client give it about 2-3 days and make sure the document has been received and opened. A common problem is that many clients will receive this invoice and put it aside until the actual due date. There for the payment could be delayed.

By keeping things up to date and in order, you can contact that client by phone or email and see if things are going all right and if they had any questions or concerns about the invoice.

Watching Out For Payments: Once you’ve made sure the invoice had no problems, now you have to wait for the payment to show up in your bank account. If for some reason you do not receive the payment within the agreed time, you need to immediately contact that client, though an email letting them know they are late on the payment.

When you manage payments it’s never an easy task but there are tips that can help you. It’s very important that you have to show firm behavior with the client but at the same time avoid being rude. For more information about how to manage your payments for your clients contact Windy City Web Designs!

Why You Should Have A Website For Your Business

Many small business owners find that they do not need a website. They feel they’re selling their products and services in the neighborhood just fine to their loyal customers. What they don’t understand is that having a website, can potential drag MORE customers to there business from all over! Every business needs to have that competitive edge! No matter how specialized or concentrated you think your business is going, there will always be a competitor that is popping up to have their slice of the profit.

Having a business without a website is going to make it very hard to get new customers coming to you. If your a fast food restaurant and don’t have a site for people to order online or even find your number on the internet is really going to hurt your business.

Having A Business Without A Site: If you are like anyone else that is from the 21st century you will understand the frustration of looking up a number though Google, and you can’t seem to find it, because the business doesn’t even have a site! So then your directed to another company of your liking to find whatever it is you needed in the first place. This company could have had amazing food, or great customer service or even the cutest trinkets, but the fact that they didn’t have a website, pushes the potential clients away. Which could possible harm your business. Check out these techniques on why you should have a website for your business.

  1. Contacting Your Business: Your small business will be missing out on a lot of customers, if they can’t reach you! About 80% of Internet users in the United States from the ages of 14 and up look up products or services online.
  2. People Who Know Your Business: With the new generation of children nowadays, no one is going to pick up a phone book, and check the yellow pages for your business. They are going to search it on the Internet. If they don’t see you anywhere, they might think you are no longer in business. Having an online presence will show your customers you do care, and you want them to continue coming to you for merchandise. That’s why having a website is very important for your business!
  3. Broadening Your Horizon: With the money you make from your local customers, can increase exponentially by making your products and services available online. Have you thought about the profits you will be making if you fraction in the user base?
  4. Your Targeted Audience: The joys of having the Internet at your fingertips! Your able to retrieve feedback from emails, online surveys and social media functions that can tell you how good your market is doing. There is also software that you can use to determine the type of people who visit your site. You can use this information to build better business strategies.

It bothers many designers that some businesses that are out there that do not have a website. They don’t seem to take advantage of this relatively cheap but highly effective business technique! If you have any questions about why you need a website for your business, contact Windy City Web Designs!

Tips For Web Designers That Want To Keep Learning!

Do you want to learn more skills that could possibly help advance you in your career as a web designer? Take a look at these educational sites that are listed below. When working in the web design industry, you learn something new everyday, and it’s also a great idea to keep up on your skills. Take a look at these tips and hopefully they can help you improve or excel in your area of experience.

Tuts+: With Tuts+ it provides a wealth of knowledge for designers and developers, on helping other people learn online. Tuts+ offers a huge range of video based and text videos.  The offer free tutorials, and publish subscription based courses that will give you many different types of courses varying from HTML & CSS, WordPress, Adobe Cloud Programs and much more!

Treehouse: Treehouse is aimed towards beginner web designers and to help them land careers. They provide web development, web design, iOS development training and it also induces PHP, and SEO. What’s great about Treehouse is they provide some interactive challenges and quizzes and once you complete them you are awarded a badge that is placed on your profile. Certain companies do recruit new employees from Treehouse that is based on the number of badges that person has earned.

Lynda.com: This is my favorite place to go for online learning videos! They help any one that wants to learn new creative skills, and technology. The industries leaders teach all of these videos. This site allows you to control the viewing experience of any course, and you can watch them on your mobile device and computer. You can also create your own playlist of videos that you have watched or you can share them! Lynda.com has over 1000 different courses that are based on your typical web design courses, and other courses in business, operating systems, and even networking.

For more information about places to go to learn more about web design contact Windy City Web Designs!

How To Become A Better Content Writer

This doesn’t matter if you are a blogger, freelance writer, a student, or even a professional writer; you can always benefit by elevating you content writing skills! The quality of content usually suffers when you produce a great quantity. Those who are professional writers have discovered a couple new strategies that can enable them to avoid the trap. Following this tips should help you produce a steady stream of some great content!

Research Never Ends, When Your Writing Starts

First thing we should learn from professional writers is to learn how to preserve your research mode throughout your entire writing and editing. Many content writers do make the same mistake and they can conduct a basic research.

Focusing 

Too much rambling on will not get you anywhere; you need to clarify what you’re going to talk about from the very beginning. Each piece of content you create should have only one point, because having too many different points will confuse the readers.

Example, when you develop your article you should have a word counter to count how many words you have used. This tool will help you from overbearing your articles with too much information or too little information. This can also identify repetitive words or phrases that are diluting your message that you are trying to get across.

Organization

Content writing can become messy at points. You have to think about time management if you want to get the job done correctly. Two parts of professional writers are those who are finding the mess inspiring; and those that find effective ways to make writing more productive.

Your Point Of View

Yes you can create something that your readers are already familiar with, but you have to elaborate the topic from your point of view. Following someone else’s lead, your readers can just as easily find the content contradictory to another article that was already published.

If you can not think of anything else in that time of day, save your file and come back to it when your ready.  You don’t want to have something that is half done especially if it’s for your company website!

Keeping Things Simple

Make sure your sentences, paragraphs, and words are short and readable. Having a complex style won’t get you many loyal readers, this is why when you get carried away, and you need to make sure to cut the clutter during the editing stage of your article and or blog.  Always edit your blogs before you post; nothing is ever perfect the first time around! Whenever I write I think about it in my head and type what comes to mind, and sometimes ill forget the little things but then when I go back to edit the blog I correct the errors.

For more information about how to become a better content writer, contact Windy City Web Designs!

How To Make Your Online Ads Clickable

We’ve all seen ads that grab our attention, but now we’ve also seen ads that can leave us speechless, and wondering what the advertiser was trying to accomplish. How are you able to create text banner ads on LinkedIn that can attract your target audience? Start by writing effective headlines, and see where that gets you!

A KEY to writing online ads is to put yourself in the shoes of your viewers who are going to be reading your ads. Picture how they are feeling, understand why they are frustrated or in pain. Once your able to get into their heads, you can write ads that can grab their attention quickly and make them feel comfortable with you and your products or services.

These great ads are more than just words, it’s about telling a story or creating an unforgettable experience and make you have to read more. Follow these factors that can make your ads more clickable to your viewers!

Being Curious

We all are curious by nature and want to learn more about subjects that interest us. If you start your headline with phrases like “How do I …” or “How I… ” The reader will be curious. You want them to read the entire headline. You can also use contradiction in your headline to confuse your readers so you’re able to grab their attention also. Here are a few examples of headlines that use curiosity to grab attention:

  • “How do I get top search rankings in Google for my business without spending a lot of money?”
  • “Social Media is NOT your only way to get web traffic”

Some Benefits

By providing a clear understanding of the benefit in your headline, people will click on your ad to find out how they can benefit from what you are offering. Implying that they will learn something new that can give them a competitive advantage. Here are a few examples of benefit-driven headlines:

  • “How to Convert More Web Visitors into Raving Customers”
  • “How to Work Less and Earn More”

Emotions

Everyone responds to certain key words, especially when they trigger some type of emotion. Using the right words can make people click on your ads. If you watch those infomercials, you’ll be able to hear and see the steady stream of emotion-triggering words like amazing, incredible, excellent, and free. You may also hear them say something like “This amazing formula will help you feel incredible, and make you completely irresistible.” Now who wouldn’t want to buy that product? Here are a few more examples of some emotional headlines:

  • “Ten Free Social Media Tips That Will Generate More Incredible Comments on Your Blogs”
  • “Easily Learn a New Language in Just 20 Minutes a Day!”

For more information about how to make your online ads clickable, contact Windy City Web Designs.