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3 Effective and Beautiful Mobile Navigations

Sometimes the most subtle design decisions can vastly improve or hurt the overall user experience in the world of web design. In a field constantly subject to new visual design trends, user expectations, and form factor changes, it can be tough to keep up with the most effective solutions for seemingly simple pieces of functionality like a website’s navigation menu. Some tried and true methods tend to stick around, but that doesn’t mean that they’re always the best for your current users.

On mobile devices, especially, the requirements are constantly evolving. Navigations need to look great and work well on a 10” tablet, a 6” “phablet”, or a 4” phone. Let’s take a look at some reliable navigation options that focus on ease of use while still complementing your website design across a multitude of mobile devices.

Hamburger Menu

hamburger menu A very popular option right now is what’s known as the hamburger menu, referred to as such due to the icon with three horizontal lines stacked on top of each other. This icon has become synonymous with mobile navigations and is sometimes utilized on full desktop sites. It provides an easy way to access a site’s menu without obstructing the design in a largely universally recognized way. Hamburger menus have been in use for several years now but have exploded in popularity recently with the advent of responsive websites.

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Hacked Websites on the Rise – What You Can Do to Protect Your Website

Google recently reported on their Webmaster Central Blog that they saw a 32% increase in hacked websites in 2016, in comparison to 2015, and even more unfortunate for webmasters was that Google expects the upward trend to continue. If this worries you, it should, especially when your website can be penalized for hacked content and either be demoted or completely dropped from the search results pages.

An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

– Ben Franklin

The good news is, there are some steps you can take to help fight off hackers from compromising your site. While no method is full-proof, these tips can help protect your business’ brand, and save you the time, and cost to recover from an attack. Continue reading

Making SEM Work For Our Clients | A Tier 2 Case Study of the Chemical Concepts Campaign | Header

Making SEM Work For Our Clients – A Tier 2 Case Study of the Chemical Concepts Campaign

If you’ve ever sat down for one of our free website design or internet marketing consultations, you already know that we do things a bit differently here at Sharp Innovations. We want to understand your business inside and out, and we look to identify your goals, the target audience, potential hardships and more before we dive into your new website or internet marketing project.

In an effort to cater to the ever-changing digital landscape, we previously launched a three-tiered approach to our search engine optimization (SEO) efforts. While most clients fit into the Tier 1 program, some look for a more proactive approach that focuses on conversions, Return on Investment (ROI), Key Performance Indicators (KPI), accelerated content and more. This is why we launched our Tier 2 and Tier 3 SEO programs.

The team at Chemical Concepts put us to the test last February, and we’re pleased to share the results of their ongoing Tier 2 SEO campaign. Here are some of the key metrics measured over the duration of the campaign:

  • There were 19% more user sessions in 2016-2017 when compared to 2015-2016.
  • Organic referrals were a driving force in that growth, as Chemical Concepts saw 28% more organic referrals.
  • You may be thinking, ‘The extra traffic and referrals are great, but are they converting?’ The answer is a resounding yes – to the tune of a 45% increase in goal conversions (those visitors filling out the contact form or placing an order)! This increase in goal conversions also accounted for a 35% increase in online invoiced sales.

Additional useful metrics that have improved as a direct result of the campaign are: Continue reading

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Write Clearly – It’s Better For Your Business

A friend recently told me about a newspaper ad that he had seen. In it, a chain of stores included this curious qualifier in the small print *Not available in all stores.

If all stores don’t have the item, why is the chain advertising it?

Obviously, the message that the chain is trying to send is that SOME stores don’t have the item. The intended message, that the item is available here and there, but not everywhere, would be completely clear if the small print would simply say *Not available in SOME stores.

And that brings up another question: Do I really want to travel to a store in the chain, only to find that the store doesn’t have the item that I want? That experience would not make me happy, and such rudeness might discourage me from shopping at any of the chain’s stores again. Overall, this is a poorly worded ad. The company should make sure that the item is available in all stores, or else focus on some other piece of merchandise that is everywhere. Continue reading

Spam Filters and Why They Are Important | Header

Spam Filters and Why They Are Important

Spam – disruptive online messages, especially commercial messages posted on a computer network or sent as email.

In today’s world, just about everybody is on the Internet. The Internet is an amazing place and allows communication like never before. I can send somebody in Montana or Madagascar an email, and they get it within minutes of my sending it. How amazing! However, just like with a lot of good things, there can be bad things as well.

People all over the world have figured out ways to build software that searches the Internet for email addresses and then sends spam to those addresses. For the most part, spam is just an annoyance. However, sometimes spam can cost you a lot.

There are people out there with malicious intentions who have developed viruses that they often times include with spam emails. These viruses have clever names like “Locky,” and they encrypt the information on your hard drive and then require you to pay several hundred, sometimes thousands of dollars to get your information back. Most of these cases are not from America, and that makes it very difficult for law enforcement to do anything about them. Continue reading

How To Update Your Business Listing Holiday Hours | Header

How To Update Your Business Listing Holiday Hours

The holidays are upon us, and it’s time to make sure all your ducks are in a row whether your business takes a holiday break or you’re open for business as usual. Many customers will wonder if your holiday hours will be different from your regular hours, and it’s good business etiquette to show your special holiday hours if you’ll be having them.

If you were greeted with a helpful reminder from Google to update your holiday hours, but aren’t quite sure how to do so, we’ve put together this helpful how-to blog that walks you through the necessary steps for both your Google and Bing business listings. Continue reading

CMS vs Custom Development

CMS vs Custom Development

In this day and age, Content Management Systems (CMS) are easier to use and more versatile than ever. WordPress, for instance, started its life as an intuitive blogging platform and evolved into a full-featured framework for robust, database-driven websites. In a lot of circumstances, content management systems decrease development time and help facilitate rapid deployment. However, I can’t emphasize enough that third party content management systems should not be regarded as one-size-fits-all solutions.

As website builders, it is our responsibility to ensure that we’re utilizing the correct software solution for the job; lest we create more work for ourselves by altering core functionality, or by adding new functionality that drastically deviates from the content management system’s fundamental purpose.

Furthermore, the design team should have intimate knowledge of how the given CMS works and interact closely with the development team to ensure that the design itself doesn’t introduce functionality that is not native to the software. In our experience, this lack of synergy between designers and developers is the number one cause of superfluous custom development that could’ve been avoided. Continue reading

Top 3 SEO Insights You Need to Know for 2017

Top 3 SEO Insights You Need to Know for 2017

Even if you know nothing about how search engines arrange the results when you conduct a search, you’ve probably at one time or other experienced results that are constantly in flux. As Google, Bing and other search engines work to provide you with the best match to your query, the search engines are constantly getting tweaked.

With many businesses now planning their budgets for 2017, we thought it would be helpful to show you the directions where the search engines are heading so you can reap the benefits of staying on top of things.

Even if you’re already part of a Search Engine Optimization (SEO) program, you can still benefit by staying current on SEO trends. If your SEO program is with us, you can make sure your marketing objectives for next year align with what is trending and where we will likely be heading. If your SEO program is with another company, you can make sure they’re on top of these trends, and if they’re not, we’d be happy to discuss our different SEO packages with you.

So what should you look for in 2017? Here’s what we expect to see as we wrap up 2016 and move on into the new year. Continue reading

Why Custom-Built Websites are Better than DIY Websites

Why Custom-Built Websites are Better than DIY Websites

As the World Wide Web continues to mature, do-it-yourself (DIY) tools that allow people to easily create their own websites using drag-and-drop user interfaces, as well as pre-made themes, have become ubiquitous. While DIY tools and commodity themes can be beneficial for individuals or for a small startup, they can’t compare to a custom-built website designed for an established business.

So what can a custom-built website provide you that a DIY website builder tool can’t? How about a completely customized website, built specifically with your business or industry in mind? Continue reading

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Take Heart, Google Penguin is Near *Update* It’s here!

The long-awaited Google Penguin 4.0 seems to finally be reaching its launching point. Recent discussions with the Google team have revealed that they’ve been working on a launch announcement, and a date has been set to go live. Unfortunately they’re keeping the exact release date hidden from the public, since previous targets failed to hit the mark and frustrated webmasters.

What is Google Penguin?

Google Penguin is Google’s attempt to prevent artificially increasing a website’s ranking in the search results through purchasing links from link networks whose sole purpose is boosting Google rank, as well as through other unnatural linking schemes. Continue reading