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Our new location is in Blue Ash Ohio. We moved our marketing agency from Cincinnati's Over the Rhine in December of 2019. If you would like to arrange a meeting, please call us at (513) 463-3429. In order to keep our employees healthy and safe, walk-ins are not currently welcome.

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Phone: (513) 463-3429
Address: 11223 Cornell Park Drive Suite 301, Blue Ash Ohio 45242

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Lohre Industrial Marketing Location

Lohre & Assoc. Welcomes Noted Artist and Web Designer Myke Amend to its Team

Web Design and Web Development Guru, Grphic Artist and Graphic Designer, Myke AmendCincinnati native Myke Amend recently joined Lohre & Associates, the Over-the-Rhine-based marketing communications agency, fulltime as Web Design & Internet Development creative officer. Amend has worked with Lohre for the past 10 years as a web designer and web developer on a freelance basis from Grand Rapids, Mich.

Amend, who returns to Cincinnati for the new position, brings two decades experience as a graphic designer, web designer, programmer, and Internet developer, working on a variety of business-to-business and consumer accounts. Additionally, Amend is an illustrator, engraver and painter, whose work has been commissioned by other artists in film, music and literature.

“We’re very excited to have Myke working with us,” says Chuck Lohre, president, “He brings the creativity and skills of a fine artist, with his vast digital expertise. It’s a perfect combination for our agency, which is known for creative solutions to the wide variety of branding, strategy and digital implementation projects we handle for our clients.”

Adds Amend, “It’s gratifying to know Chuck and his team of designers, writers, strategists and brand experts welcome the years of experience I bring from fine arts with the in-demand digital know-how. I’m excited to develop ways we can continue to solve challenges for the companies who have looked to Lohre for ways to set them apart from their competitors.”

Amend’s illustrations have been featured in “Weird Tales” magazine, “Beneath Ceaseless Skies,” “Gatehouse Gazette,” “Kilter” magazine, “Gothic Beauty” magazine, the art collection “Gothic Art Now,” the art collection “Vampire Art Now,” the “Airship Pirates RPG” and many more print publications as well as popular online resources such as “IO9,” “Elfwood,” “Dark Roasted Blend,” “Fantasy Art” magazine, “Lines and Colors,” “Brass Goggles,” “Gawker, “BoingBoing.” His work has also been featured on the sites of literary creatives including Warren Ellis, Thomas Ligotti, Neil Gaiman and Clive Barker.

Additionally Dexter Palmer, Cherie Priest, The Pickled Brothers Sideshow, Vernian Process, Veronique Chevalier, the Borgia Popes, Automaton, Abney Park and others have commissioned Amend for works. He is often a special guest of art, horror and steampunk conventions. He also works in sculpture and kinetic art, most notably having created a 4000-lb. solar and wind-powered rotating mural and 3D work called “the Infernal Device,” which was displayed at the Gerald R. Ford Museum for ArtPrize 2011.

In between Myke has filled his time working on ModelARestorers.org, as sole designer, webmaster, and server admin of a site serving 180 chapters Worldwide, creating advertising art for Disney Fine Art Gallery, and of course working for Lohre and Associates, for whom he now works full time.

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Redesigning a Website to be Mobile-Friendly on a Budget


Website Redesign Does Not, Should Not Always Mean Replacement:

We all know how increasingly important having a mobile-friendly website has become to search engine placement, but for many reasons, a company might not be ready, or able to do a complete overhaul of an antiquated website or website design.

I am going to go over a few ways a company can hold onto the site they have (as well as a few reasons they might want to) while quickly and inexpensively bringing their site into the 2010s with mobile-friendly styling.

Common reasons not to upgrade a website:

  • It is not in the budget: This might because money was already recently put into a new website design, or that the ideal and perfect website for the company will require more capital than is currently available.
  • There isn’t time: Funding aside, major web development tends to require time from the client for gathering promotional literature and other collateral materials, approving designs, flow charts/site maps, discussions on what the new website should be able to do. When it comes to building a new website, some level of collaboration is necessary.
  • Google and other search engines really like old sites: It is true that the older a website is, the more reliable the website appears to search, but one must also consider that regularly-updated sites are also favorable. The perfect mix, we’ve found, is having a site with an old domain, and regularly updating it.

Rome wasn’t built in a day – Good websites also take time.

The very best sites are not made in a day, or even a month – The best websites are the product of years or more of regular updates and upgrades, close attention to not creating broken links in the process, and minor design improvements made regularly. This is especially true when it comes to SEO.

Coming from an artist who has spent over 20 years as a web developer, over a decade more doing graphic design, and an entire lifetime creating fine art: There really is something to be said for works that have had a lot of time, passion, and care for detail put into them. This level of attention to detail does not happen with purchased templates, it does not come with even the largest budget for website redesign. Sure, it can begin there, but the very best websites come from many, many minor changes.

As important as it is to regularly update your CMS (content management system) software, update plugins, check your site’s and servers security, check for broken links, create new blog posts, create new pages, create other content, check directories and other inbound links – making regular minor changes to design, function, and architecture is what brings a website ever-closer to perfect.

“Minor changes”?? Making our website mobile-friendly is a huge undertaking!!

It is easy to think this. Your site might have a lot of pages… hundreds, even thousands. You might even have several different templates for several different types of pages within your site. Your site might even be built on an older/outdated CMS, a long-extinct version of one, or something completely proprietary and unsupported **

Regardless of the type of server you are running on, whether your pages are php, asp, HTML, regardless of what CMS you are using or how old your site is, the end result is that all web site pages are outputted as some sort of HTML, the language a web-browser reads to present a web page for your viewing, and all HTML is, or rather should be formatted with stylesheets – which are all some form of CSS.

Restyling/Redesigning the website to work well with mobile from here is mostly a matter of adding of taking these steps:

  • Adding the viewport meta tag to the header is the first thing I do: Re sizing my browser, I can see how the site and its pages are going to look at different widths, but for a lot of mobile devices the site will not present the same without this tag, which can be easily forgotten.
  • Use media queries within the css to make the web pages and their elements behave differently at different screen sizes: This is mostly a matter of making sure all elements (images, layers, paragraphs) have a max-width of 100% or less (including their margins, borders, and sometimes padding), and that their contents will not overflow those boundaries (by declaring how to treat overflow).
  • Make sure things fall properly into line: Images, layers, and paragraphs ideally should, most-often each take up the full width of a mobile device. I tend to make elements expand to this size, then add  “clear: both” and “float: none” to their styling.
  • Make sure they fall into the proper order: Things that were floating left end up above the elements that were to their right, this is not always the best order for viewing. Sometimes element a, b, and c need to be read top-to-bottom as c, b, and a. To address this, I tend to go the Flex/ Flex-flow/Order method, but this and a number of other methods are covered in this stack overflow thread.
  • Make a simple mobile menu/thumb menu: You need only use CSS to do this. A very simple drop down thumb menu can be found here, on Medialoot. Sometimes, especially if there are few pages, it is even more simple. For both Dynamic Industries (large scale machining) and Vertiflo Pump Company (vertical submersible centrifugal pumps), I didn’t even make a thumb menu – I simply made it so that menu items fell into new rows, evenly, and gave them a layered tab appearance on mobile devices.

Mobile-friendly Website redesign for Dynamic IndustriesMobile-friendly Website redesign for Dynamic Industries

Above (left and right) The pages of this standard HTML site were given a mobile-friendly re-design through simple CSS styling changes. A mobile menu was also added simply by re-styling the existing links/navigation

Foreseeable difficulties:

For a lot of older, really older sites, or for sites that were designed by people with limited design knowledge, or no design knowledge at all, these are some common snags run into:

  • The website, site pages, or site content were created in MS Word: The result of this is a massively huge file, horribly coded, and especially badly-coded for trying to restyle with CSS. There is a large amount of proprietary code in there, and unique styles are applied to most every element, if not each and every character. There are a number of ways to clean this up, I am not going to recommend any of them in particular (but advise you try several of the free ones first).
  • There is no CSS style sheet, and there are no CSS styles applied: Actually, often this is even better – it means that you will not be fighting competing style declarations and addressing most things element by element. CSS will override HTML in most cases (unless there is inline CSS). Just attach a stylesheet to the pages or template and work from there.
  • There are inline styles for a number of elements or for every element: I really hate to use it, but if a very object-specific CSS declaration won’t do, you can use “!important” at the end of your declarations to override these. Use them sparingly. If all else fails, any good text editor with “find/replace” can possibly be used (locally) to remove these as you find them. If these inline styles are used within post and page content, a good find/replace plugin might be available for your CMS. If it is WordPress, I use “Better Search/Replace“.
  • Tables??… who still uses tables?? A decade after most designers should have stopped using them, they are still a fairly common thing. Sometimes, they are even necessary… at least until Mozilla Firefox starts handling flex correctly. Though tables are something to be avoided for layout, they are still handy as far as what they were intended for: Displaying specs and data. Generally, if tables are used to layout content, I break them apart with “display: block; overflow: hidden; float: none; clear: both;” and then work on the styling from there. Since a majority of our clients are Industrial, and more specifically: in the process industry tables filled with data are pretty common. I use CSS to break lines and to rotate the table headers at smaller sizes, like so (LEFT/top: normal website view of the table, RIGHT/bottom: Mobile website view of the table):

Website Design: Table Rotation example 1web-design-table-rotation.png

 

So… Why are we doing this again?

1. Search engines now favor mobile-friendly websites.

2. Content that is mobile-friendly reaches a wider audience/is more accessible.

3. Content that is mobile-friendly is more likely to be shared, if only because of the wider audience provided by being mobile-friendly and having better search placement.

4. It is actually not as hard as it might seem:

I know it might seem like a lot of work, all of these steps might not be necessary, and taking these steps could get help your website by in the mean time, and possibly for a while – maybe much longer if the website is regularly kept up to date with internet standards. It is also often easier, and more cost-effective to maintain a website than it is to completely replace it. Making your website mobile-friendly will put you back on the right path.

These changes, are changes that should be applied over a handful of days, and improved upon as time goes by. If you do not have a web designer who is capable of doing this in this time frame, we’d be happy to help – Just contact us.

Making a website mobile-friendly is very important in that Google and other search providers use this as a standard when giving search placement. If you also consider that an increasing amount of website visitors are using cellphones or other mobile devices, and that this portion of visitors and potential visitors is fast-becoming the majority, you know that not having a mobile-friendly site is like being on only a very small portion of the internet. It is not a very nice thing to do to yourself, your company, or all those who might wish to be connected with your product or service.

 

 

 


** In the latter case: Yes, I would suggest some sort of overhaul – because any CMS or plugin version even an hour old might have some exploit or other vulnerability that will end in your site being loaded with malware and pharmaceutical ads, if it is not already. I won’t go into that here, You can read more about that here, for the sake of this article I am going to assume your site is secure and sound against these things.

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Building the Best Association Management Software and Website for your Organization

When it comes to selecting the right association management software, there are about as many software solutions out there as there are specific needs.

When we began our latest project, each of us had many association, organization, chamber, community, or other membership-driven sites behind us. Each, we’ve found, has its own unique set of features, hurdles, costs, and applications which need to be to matched to an association’s unique way of operating:

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Mobile Friendly Website on a Budget


Website Redesign Does Not, Should Not Always Mean Replacement:

We all know how increasingly important having a mobile-friendly website has become to search engine placement, but for many reasons, a company might not be ready, or able to do a complete overhaul of an antiquated website or website design.

I am going to go over a few ways a company can hold onto the site they have (as well as a few reasons they might want to) while quickly and inexpensively bringing their site into the 2010s with mobile-friendly styling.

Common reasons not to upgrade a website:

  • It is not in the budget: This might because money was already recently put into a new website design, or that the ideal and perfect website for the company will require more capital than is currently available.
  • There isn’t time: Funding aside, major web development tends to require time from the client for gathering promotional literature and other collateral materials, approving designs, flow charts/site maps, discussions on what the new website should be able to do. When it comes to building a new website, some level of collaboration is necessary.
  • Google and other search engines really like old sites: It is true that the older a website is, the more reliable the website appears to search, but one must also consider that regularly-updated sites are also favorable. The perfect mix, we’ve found, is having a site with an old domain, and regularly updating it.

Rome wasn’t built in a day – Good websites also take time.

The very best sites are not made in a day, or even a month – The best websites are the product of years or more of regular updates and upgrades, close attention to not creating broken links in the process, and minor design improvements made regularly. This is especially true when it comes to SEO.

Coming from an artist who has spent over 20 years as a web developer, over a decade more doing graphic design, and an entire lifetime creating fine art: There really is something to be said for works that have had a lot of time, passion, and care for detail put into them. This level of attention to detail does not happen with purchased templates, it does not come with even the largest budget for website redesign. Sure, it can begin there, but the very best websites come from many, many minor changes.

As important as it is to regularly update your CMS (content management system) software, update plugins, check your site’s and servers security, check for broken links, create new blog posts, create new pages, create other content, check directories and other inbound links – making regular minor changes to design, function, and architecture is what brings a website ever-closer to perfect.

“Minor changes”?? Making our website mobile-friendly is a huge undertaking!!

It is easy to think this. Your site might have a lot of pages… hundreds, even thousands. You might even have several different templates for several different types of pages within your site. Your site might even be built on an older/outdated CMS, a long-extinct version of one, or something completely proprietary and unsupported **

Regardless of the type of server you are running on, whether your pages are php, asp, HTML, regardless of what CMS you are using or how old your site is, the end result is that all web site pages are outputted as some sort of HTML, the language a web-browser reads to present a web page for your viewing, and all HTML is, or rather should be formatted with stylesheets – which are all some form of CSS.

Restyling/Redesigning the website to work well with mobile from here is mostly a matter of adding of taking these steps:

  • Adding the viewport meta tag to the header is the first thing I do: Re sizing my browser, I can see how the site and its pages are going to look at different widths, but for a lot of mobile devices the site will not present the same without this tag, which can be easily forgotten.
  • Use media queries within the css to make the web pages and their elements behave differently at different screen sizes: This is mostly a matter of making sure all elements (images, layers, paragraphs) have a max-width of 100% or less (including their margins, borders, and sometimes padding), and that their contents will not overflow those boundaries (by declaring how to treat overflow).
  • Make sure things fall properly into line: Images, layers, and paragraphs ideally should, most-often each take up the full width of a mobile device. I tend to make elements expand to this size, then add  “clear: both” and “float: none” to their styling.
  • Make sure they fall into the proper order: Things that were floating left end up above the elements that were to their right, this is not always the best order for viewing. Sometimes element a, b, and c need to be read top-to-bottom as c, b, and a. To address this, I tend to go the Flex/ Flex-flow/Order method, but this and a number of other methods are covered in this stack overflow thread.
  • Make a simple mobile menu/thumb menu: You need only use CSS to do this. A very simple drop down thumb menu can be found here, on Medialoot. Sometimes, especially if there are few pages, it is even more simple. For both Dynamic Industries (large scale machining) and Vertiflo Pump Company (vertical submersible centrifugal pumps), I didn’t even make a thumb menu – I simply made it so that menu items fell into new rows, evenly, and gave them a layered tab appearance on mobile devices.

Mobile-friendly Website redesign for Dynamic IndustriesMobile-friendly Website redesign for Dynamic Industries

Above (left and right) The pages of this standard HTML site were given a mobile-friendly re-design through simple CSS styling changes. A mobile menu was also added simply by re-styling the existing links/navigation

Foreseeable difficulties:

For a lot of older, really older sites, or for sites that were designed by people with limited design knowledge, or no design knowledge at all, these are some common snags run into:

  • The website, site pages, or site content were created in MS Word: The result of this is a massively huge file, horribly coded, and especially badly-coded for trying to restyle with CSS. There is a large amount of proprietary code in there, and unique styles are applied to most every element, if not each and every character. There are a number of ways to clean this up, I am not going to recommend any of them in particular (but advise you try several of the free ones first).
  • There is no CSS style sheet, and there are no CSS styles applied: Actually, often this is even better – it means that you will not be fighting competing style declarations and addressing most things element by element. CSS will override HTML in most cases (unless there is inline CSS). Just attach a stylesheet to the pages or template and work from there.
  • There are inline styles for a number of elements or for every element: I really hate to use it, but if a very object-specific CSS declaration won’t do, you can use “!important” at the end of your declarations to override these. Use them sparingly. If all else fails, any good text editor with “find/replace” can possibly be used (locally) to remove these as you find them. If these inline styles are used within post and page content, a good find/replace plugin might be available for your CMS. If it is WordPress, I use “Better Search/Replace“.
  • Tables??… who still uses tables?? A decade after most designers should have stopped using them, they are still a fairly common thing. Sometimes, they are even necessary… at least until Mozilla Firefox starts handling flex correctly. Though tables are something to be avoided for layout, they are still handy as far as what they were intended for: Displaying specs and data. Generally, if tables are used to layout content, I break them apart with “display: block; overflow: hidden; float: none; clear: both;” and then work on the styling from there. Since a majority of our clients are Industrial, and more specifically: in the process industry tables filled with data are pretty common. I use CSS to break lines and to rotate the table headers at smaller sizes, like so (LEFT/top: normal website view of the table, RIGHT/bottom: Mobile website view of the table):

Website Design: Table Rotation example 1web-design-table-rotation.png

 

So… Why are we doing this again?

1. Search engines now favor mobile-friendly websites.

2. Content that is mobile-friendly reaches a wider audience/is more accessible.

3. Content that is mobile-friendly is more likely to be shared, if only because of the wider audience provided by being mobile-friendly and having better search placement.

4. It is actually not as hard as it might seem:

I know it might seem like a lot of work, all of these steps might not be necessary, and taking these steps could get help your website by in the mean time, and possibly for a while – maybe much longer if the website is regularly kept up to date with internet standards. It is also often easier, and more cost-effective to maintain a website than it is to completely replace it. Making your website mobile-friendly will put you back on the right path.

These changes, are changes that should be applied over a handful of days, and improved upon as time goes by. If you do not have a web designer who is capable of doing this in this time frame, we’d be happy to help – Just contact us.

Making a website mobile-friendly is very important in that Google and other search providers use this as a standard when giving search placement. If you also consider that an increasing amount of website visitors are using cellphones or other mobile devices, and that this portion of visitors and potential visitors is fast-becoming the majority, you know that not having a mobile-friendly site is like being on only a very small portion of the internet. It is not a very nice thing to do to yourself, your company, or all those who might wish to be connected with your product or service.


** In the latter case: Yes, I would suggest some sort of overhaul – because any CMS or plugin version even an hour old might have some exploit or other vulnerability that will end in your site being loaded with malware and pharmaceutical ads, if it is not already. I won’t go into that here, You can read more about that here, for the sake of this article I am going to assume your site is secure and sound against these things.

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Mobile-Friendly Website Design with an Image-Based Menu

When Lohre and Associates began this project, Roto-Disc, Inc. had a standard HTML web site that they liked, as much as we did, for a number of good reasons:

  • It was built to reflect the look and feel of Roto-Disc‘s product catalog about as closely as could be done with a website. It matched Roto-Disc‘s catalogue so very well that the site itself felt like well-designed and well-planned literature.
  • Pages were designed, not as a whole in cookie-cutter fashion, but for their purpose. Much like a printed brochure, everything was cohesively-branded as one well-collected work – yet each individual page was custom-tailored to best-present the products and services on that page.
  • The existing outline was near-perfect. Divisions between pages and topics were pretty spot-on, easy to navigate and easy to follow.

Web Design for Rotodisc CincinnatiAbove: The standard HTML site that was.

It was however, as sites made years ago tend to be: static in size and format, with no mobile menus or even alternate mobile version, and no CMS or other way to dynamically-generate new content – all of which we know to be a problem today for these reasons:

  • Google now gives better indexing for mobile-friendly sites, and penalizes sites that do not have mobile-friendly design or versions.
  • Engineers and other decision-makers in the Process Industry cannot easily view these sites while they are out in the field, which is about the time that needs for new equipment tend to arise or happen to be revealed.
  • Sites not viewed by mobile users do not get shared by mobile users, who make up for an increasingly-large percentage of internet viewers.
  • Sites that are blogs, WIKIS, or otherwise CMS-driven, have a sizable SEO advantage over most sites that are not. Growing content and fostering inbound links are incredibly-important to SEO. Blogs also enable a company to position itself as an industry leader, and give them the tools to build and maintain better customer relationships.

Another need to consider was that Roto-Disc‘s Product line would soon be expanding. In addition to the Heavy-Duty Spherical Valves, Lighter-Weight Spherical Valves, Sanitary Spherical valves, Inflatable Seal Spherical Valves, Heavy-Duty Clean Flow Diverters, and Airlock/Double-Dump Valves Roto-Disc already had a new section for Flange Adaptors, Wedge Inserts, and Stub Adaptors that needed to fit into the current image-based menu. Soon Roto-Disc would need to also add Process Transitions, and Splitters/Convergers, as well as the Flange Adaptors to this small swatch of internet real-estate.

From This We Created A Short List of Initial Project Goals:

  • Emulate the general look and feel of Roto-Disc‘s catalog, which we had recently updated for the new product line.
  • Preserve the image-based menu and allow for more menu items to be added.
  • Make their site completely responsive and mobile-friendly.
  • Make navigating and reading the site easy for *all* sizes: large screens, smartphones, *and* tablets.
  • Build it as a CMS (WordPress in this case) for blogging, scaleable SEO, Inbound Marketing, and ease of content editing.
  • Include the best SEO plugins available so that the SEO approach can be updated for new search rules and algorithms.

Which Enabled Us to Build This List of Challenges:

  • The new catalog was rich with very in-depth charts for most every product. Some of these would require tables with at least 15 columns. Large tables are very difficult to display on mobile devices and harder still to display in a size and format that is easy to read and does not require scrolling or turning the device to horizontal view.
  • We wanted the image-based menu to look good on desktop systems, and did not want to lose it to a simple mobile menu at tablet and mobile sizes.
  • The image-based menu would require dropdowns so that viewers would have direct access to the spefic product information they were looking for.
  • We needed dropdown menus to work for desktop, laptop, tablet, and smartphones. Since touch devices do not have a hover state for links, we needed to make the menu expand and contract when clicked, not moused over. This was a major consideration when it came to tablet users, because the image would present somewhat like the desktop version, but with no mouseover capabilities.
  • We wanted to preserve the image menus even in the mobile version if possible.
  • Having “sticky” always-on-top navigation is always nice when it comes to desktops and laptops – We wanted to find a way to do this for both the header and standard navigation, as well as the image navigation. We wanted to do this without these items completely consuming the available viewport. We also wanted the sticky image menu to not be sticky on tablets because of limited space.
  • For tablet users who would lose this sticky navigation, we needed alternatives, such as an easy way to return to the navigation and/or adding navigation also to the footer of the pages.

Our Solutions:

Web Design /Website Design for RotoDisc Cincinnati

Wide-open: The site design is based on the Brochure, but made for web, driven by WordPress, with an image menu plugin for ease of editing the image-based menu.

Web Design / Website Design for Rotodisc Cincinnati

An Additional Consideration: For Desktop users, the image links display an instruction when moused over, letting them know that clicking will open and close the submenu (though the submenu will go also away on its own when no longer in focus).

Mobile-friendly Web Design / Website Design for Rotodisc Cincinnati

The benefits of using a plugin and not hard-coding this aspect: All of the above menu and Submenu items can be added, removed, or edited through the control panel.

Mobile-friendly Web Design / Website Design for Rotodisc, Cincinnati

Two Sticky Menus in motion: The Image menu slides up onto the header when the page is scrolled, and stays – leaving the most important items of both sets of navigation always at the top of the screen for easy access.

Mobile version of Web Design / Website Design for Rotodisc Cincinnati

Not so sticky: On smaller-sized screens not quite small-enough for the mobile menu the image menu items switch size to fall into three rows of three icons. The menu no longer sticks at the top so that content can be seen when scrolling.

Web Design / Website Design Tables for Rotodisc Cincinnati

Large Tables: These charts do not seem like they will fit well on a smaller screen… especially not on mobile, not even in landscape aspect. What can be done?

Mobile width view of Web Design / Website Design for Rotodisc Cincinnati

AHA! Jquery to the rescue: By rotating the table header text 90% and re-scaling those cells accordingly, we have a LOT more space to work with when presenting these tables on mobile devices. No scrolling necessary. Some strategic line-breaking in the product number column and Viola!

Mobile width view 2 of Web Design / Website Design for Rotodisc Cincinnati

The Mobile Menu: It seems as though the image menu has been lost… and that would be sad. … but we can do better!

Mobile width view of Nav menu for Web Design / Website Design for Rotodisc Cincinnati

Huzzah!: There is that image menu again, not lost afterall.

Mobile menu of Web Design / Website Design for Rotodisc Cincinnati

The “Open/Close” Instructions: They are pointless here, because you cannot mouseover on a tablet or other mobile device, but they won’t be seen for this reason. Plus: They are still handy if you like keeping your browser window very small.

Mobile menu view for Web Design / Website Design for Rotodisc Cincinnati

Tricky: Submenus on an image menu in a mobile menu. I can’t think of any place I have seen this before – actually *many* aspects of this project were something completely new.

Mobile width view 3 of Web Design / Website Design for Rotodisc Cincinnati

Falling in line: Divs and most tables break apart – images set themselves to fill the viewport, and horizontal content becomes vertical in order to keep images large enough to view, also keeping text from being crammed awkwardly on the smaller screen.

Below: You’ll notice the menu does not stick to the top in mobile view. Sticky menus on mobile, especially for sites with many pages, are not a good idea. If the menu extends beyond the viewport, and does not scroll – then the only part of the menu that can be accessed is the part at the top of the screen. This will leave visitors stuck and incredibly frustrated. You can in some cases make another scrollbar just for the navigation, but if it is not seen visitors will think they have arrived at a broken site and move on.

Mobile width view 4 of Web Design / Website Design for Rotodisc Cincinnati

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11 Essential Steps for Creating Your New Website Design

Website Design Directions SignThough our Cincinnati web design agency tends to advocate repairing and improving cheap, DIY, outdated, or otherwise bad websites wherever and whenever possible, sometimes a new website build or complete website redesign is necessary.

If your company is new to the web, or if your business has a new website to build, it is important to have a solid web design plan in place before moving forward.

If you are hiring a web designer or web design company to do the work, pre-planning can still save an incredible amount of time and frustration, and guide the process toward having the best results from what will likely be your company’s most important sales and lead generation tool for years to come.

In this post we’ll outline the best process to build a great website with the best marketing potential.

Top most important steps toward designing your new web site:

Buyer Personas for Website DesignBad: “Elmo Haletosis Dinglefaartz the IIIrd: drinks lots of gin, and wears an eyepatch. Hates hayrides and squirrels.”

Good:
“Inigo Montoya: Parking lot mogul and CEO with properties in Cincinnati, Covington, and Newport. Has purchased 15 demolition sites in the downtown area and is looking for concrete to pave them with. He does not want to interact or commit at this time, just wants basic questions answered.” 

Step 1: Buyer Personas – Know your website’s ideal visitor

It is easy to go down the path of designing a website for the company itself. Many designers go into web design projects with the company’s image or even their own portfolio in mind first, and already in great danger of turning the website into a very expensive vanity project for the designer and company alike.

In this case, let’s imagine a Concrete company whose website boasts that they are the greatest, oldest, and biggest in the area. They have lots of pages on CEOS, CFOs, pictures of big trucks and big projects, and are wondering why the site fails to generate new leads and customers.

While it is important to impress and even dazzle visitors, it is more important to consider the ideal visitors’ primary needs. Knowing what will bring your ideal visitors to your website, knowing what information they’ll be seeking, knowing how to inform and how to boost confidence, having a plan to help them them become satisfied customers should be the primary focus.

Imagine these ideal customers, give them names, ages, likely job titles, unique needs that brought them to you – and write these down. You are done. These are your buyer personas, and you are ready for the next step:

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Step 2: Consider the buyer’s journey, and draw them a map

not a good web site map
Not a very good map for your website

Put yourself in your buyer persona’s shoes. Consider what problems they came seeking solutions for, what questions helped them find you, how you might help them. Realistically define the process. Is your solution one that might require days, even months of decision-making, or a fast and easy choice? Having buyer personas in mind, allows you to map your website accord to their needs.

You might ask yourself these things:
  • How will I attract my buyer persona?
  • What information will I need to qualify them as leads?
  • What solutions will I need to provide them in return for this information?
  • What further interactions will encourage them to change from leads into customers?
  • How do I make those customers into return customers?
  • How do I encourage them to give great reviews and word of mouth promotion?

If you have answered all of these questions in detail, congratulations – you’ve outlined your marketing path, and sales funnel.

a very bad website design marketing funnel
This is not a very good sales funnel for your website. Chances are you will not be allowed to put people into actual funnels, or to feed them to bees.
a basic, bland, and vague and useless web site marketing funnel
That’s a little bit better… in a very generic and vague way. Show that you really have a plan for this specific site, for this specific business.
web design online marketing funnel
Try to design your funnel specifically for your website, not just *any* site. The funnel could demonstrate a strategy for an entire site or a business – but most often, it will center around only one primary offer.

 

Step 3: Outline and Flow Chart

web-design-outline.pngOutline: Be thorough. Think how many pages and subpages deep this website will need to go. Also be sure to consider landing pages, which might not fall into the base hierarchy of the site.

An outline ensures that content flows in a way that is convenient and helpful to the average visitor. It also helps you to think of the process, and what content the process will require. You may find that you need more pages than you thought, but you might also find pages that can be ommited, or can be combined into one.

I recommend working on this outline in a word processing application, or anyplace where you can easily edit bulleted lists within bulleted lists.

When done, you have all you need to create a basic flowchart. Flow charts are simply graphical outlines for people who prefer flow charts over outlines (most people). Since this is mostly to illustrate how one could go from one page to the next, you don’t need to get very fancy with it – blocks and lines will do (like the very simple web site flow chart to the right).

If however everyone involved is familiar with process flow chart symbols, you might want to go a step further and make an actual process flow chart ( https://support.office.com/en-us/article/Create-a-basic-flowchart-f8e57ca2-0c24-4760-bc2e-8812d7310c6a )

Step 4: Block it out.

web-design-board-f.pngOutline: Be thorough. Think how many pages and subpages deep this web site will need to go. Also be sure to consider landing pages, which might not fall into the base hierarchy of the site.

Before doing any graphic design, you need to know how the web site and its elements are going to work together – how they are going to present information, which elements need to grab attention, how, and why.

I like to use a styrofoam board, pins, string, construction paper, and multi-colored Post-its on an open wall or large corkboard. A large table will however do, but is not as fun, and you will probably need that table for other things before the project is completed. Don’t worry now about how the website will look. Think instead about how layers will interact or be animated, where slideshows or movies might go, whether sidebars will exist and where, the function of the footer, which pages might have forms, and how they are to be presented.

Use your content outline as a guide. If you have already selected a CMS and templates, you should also consult those from time to time. Content in this stage, might be as simple as sticky notes that read “colorful image to illustrate B2B”, “bulleted list with types of advertising”, “CTA: View our helpful video!”, or as advanced as photos and printed paragraphs.

Chances are you might eventually need something more portable than the crime wall or office table. If so, refine your flow chart based on the work from this stage, print it, and print numbered pages to correspond with each block. These pages and their content should reflect the pages on your wall.

Step 5: Software selection

By now you should a good idea what sort of CMS you will need for your web design project, as well as what you will need plugins and add-ons for. If you are not designing from a theme you have previously made, and don’t plan to build one from scratch, this would be a good time to choose a theme to build from. This is also a good time to search the web for compatibility issues between software, themes, and plugins.

If the company has graphic standards established, they’ll likely require a specific font stack for their website design. Make sure the needed fonts are available as web fonts, and know how much they will cost.

If the company does not have graphic standards established, this is a something you should discuss. Make sure that creating a corporate identity package is in the budget, or that graphic standards will be available by the time design work begins.

You now have a good idea of how the web site will function, know what software you will be using, and that there no known conflicts between. You also know that everything you are proposing to do can be done, how to do it, and have factored in outside costs.

Step 6: Mid-project meeting

this website meeting actually should not be an emailNo Skeletor, This meeting is not one of those. This is actually a great place to be and a very exciting time… halfway to launch!
Source:
memegenerator.net

If you are designing this web site for others, or need to consult with your colleagues, this is a great place for a mid-project meeting.

You’ve got a lot of information to share and things to discuss before moving ahead, perhaps too much. You can’t cover everything here, but what is covered here will be shaped by the priorities, concerns, and schedules of those involved.

You have firmly established purpose, goals, needed software, server requirements, page count, content needs, new challenges, and additional costs. You also have a flow chart that serves as a map to build and design the site by.

This flow chart serves well as an itemized list of textual and graphical content needed for the site. You, the client, or your marketing team should begin creating and collecting the content needed for the completed website – Encourage them to tell their brand story, and to gather and create strong images to illustrate that story with.

Step 7: Installation, Setup, and Testing

website-hosting.jpgSome web designers would jump to the design stage before this, and if you are designing for others you may at least have been asked to make graphical mockups in order to get this far.

If you have that option, get everything installed, behaving properly, and at least semi-configured before wasting everyone’s time on preemptive design. Hypothetical appearances tend to die horribly from compatibility issues, and actual needs.

If you build in a folder on the site’s intended server, and test it, you will know that the site, and plugins work in that environment. This also gives you the ability to design in place, directly working with the actual product of Javascript, HTML, and CSS that the server-to-be will assemble from the CMS, plugins, and themes you chose.

Step 8: Framework

By the end of this stage, using your outline, you should have a good working website with all navigation working, and all proposed pages created. These pages are likely populated with lorem ipsum and placeholder images at this point, and that is okay.

Step 9: Basic Graphic Standards

This is a mini-stage before adding content. At this stage, we are still not out to create any more design elements than we absolutely have to, but we want a good idea of what our content will look like in order to improve upon it, and to design for it.

Whether you are working from an existing theme, or you started off with a structure that was devoid of any styling at all, this is a small stage where you should change colors and fonts to meet with the company’s graphic standards, and remove styles and graphical elements that would compete with this branding.

Finish this stage by adding the company logo, preferably in .SVG format (Scalable Vector Graphics) so that it looks its very best at any size or resolution.

Step 10: Populate!

What? Still no design? Are you crazy?

Realistically, yes, but also consider that you already have a lot of finished design at this point:

If you have branding, you have fonts, a defined color palette, and a logo. You also have your crime lab-style layout from step 4, meaning that you have the user interface mostly planned out. You also know how navigation and pages will work together as a story to guide your visitors through the website.

If you were able to make it to this stage without submitting graphical mockups for revision, revision, and revision of purely-hypothetical concepts, you have an opportunity to think ahead about graphical styles and touches here, and are a very lucky designer for it. If your job is design only, hopefully you’ve been given content by this point, if it isn’t you should focus on your content creation before proceeding.

Add in all of your text with only general styles (h1, h2, h3, p, br, blockquote, etc.), use placeholders in place of images, use bootstrap rules for your general layout so that all elements of fractional widths behave uniformly and responsively. I’d recommend skipping on internal links at this point, else you’ll have to remember which content you were and were not yet able to assign internal links to.

Be sure to consider SEO in your choosing of permalinks as you go. This is easier to do now than to correct later. Don’t obsess on this if it slows you down though, you can always correct with 301s if you have to, and/or a good find & replace job if your website’s structure is data-driven.

Step 11: FINALLY! Design

This is not the stage where design typically happens, but it is the stage where design *should* happen.

Previous ideas and mockups here would have served more as constraint than inspiration. Making the functionality of the web site mesh with designs made information was gathered and framework, would be much like hammering a non-euclidian peg into a two-dimensional hole.

If you are like me, and have reached the point where working with CSS and HTML in place is much like, even easier than laying out a design in Illustrator or Photoshop, then you will likely be doing the bulk of your web site design with your text editor of choice and an FTP client, while keeping Photoshop, Illustrator, and/or GIMP open for making textures, creating graphics, and editing photos.

However you do your design work, having not spent too much time on graphics up to this point, allows for much better use of time every step of the way, and for a web site that is the product of inspired design, not remedial design.

Step 12: Web Site Design Never Ends

You should be constantly testing, refining, improving, and expanding your site. Beyond testing initial functionality of your website, testing such as A/B testing for different landing pages geared toward different buyer personas is a good place to start.

Blog often, and every time you return to your site, try to think of one small thing to improve on a page or the site itself. If you mark what you changed and when you changed it, you might be able to track these changes against web traffic or visitor behavior.

Always remember: Websites that aren’t growing, are simply dying.

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Why Great Web Design & Web Development Never Ends


Your new web design or web development project is finished… or is it?

Web Design GraphicIn a sense, maybe your web design or web redesign project is coming to a close. You’ve covered everything that is within scope, satisfied every need that was laid out in the project planning, web design quote, or purchase order. The end of project meeting answered all remaining questions, employees were trained on how to use and manage their new website, and it looks like you can call this a job well done and *finally!* launch your new corporate website.

From here, ideally, your new site will impress visitors, generate new leads, make sales, and yield much better search results. You finally have a site that is well-optimized for search by today’s standards, including being responsive/mobile-friendly. You even made sure to make it a secure (HTTPS/SSL) site.

Yep, your site is completely, at this very moment, modern and will serve you well for 2 to 5 years, until you need to completely replace it again, as business from the site begins to slow, and visitor counts dwindle…

and when that time comes, you may wonder…

“Our last web design is only a few years old, why is this happening?”

Here are some of the most common reasons a great website can fail over time:

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Blogging: A Most-Important Part of Your On-Site SEO Strategy

When it comes to Internet Marketing the phrase “Content is King” is tossed around quite often, but when it comes to Internet Marketing, and especially Search Engine Optimization, it is important to remember that only the right content, the most relevant content to connect your business to your potential customer should reign supreme.

In considering how to streamline your site to attract visitors who match your several-to-many buyer personas, and when optimizing your site so that search providers can point these visitors your way, it is necessary to realize that there is no way that one or even a handful of pages could ever manage to cover all of this. Trying to gear even a forty-page site toward even one target audience, when so many possible keywords and long-tailed keywords are needed, will surely only result in a loss of keyword saturation per-page and hurt your search engine optimization.

Other Advantages of Fresh Content over a Static Page Site:

  • Static pages, though essential later in the decision-making process, do not make for the sort of content potential customers crave when seeking solutions.
  • Search providers are also on the hunt for fresh content in order to direct their users to the most relevant and most up-to-date information.
  • Having a larger site, allows for more-specialized content, each page with its own content geared toward a smaller, more-precise sample of the larger target audience, with content geared more-specifically toward their needs.
  • Blogging is not only the best approach at White-Hat SEO, it is a great way to avoid the pitfalls of Black Hat SEO

In order to understand why that last bit is so incredibly-important, one must first know a little bit about both White Hat and Black Hat SEO.

What is White-Hat SEO and What is Black-Hat SEO?

Search engine algorithms are constantly changing, and sometimes staying on top of it all can seem daunting, but when you think this work from a point of view outside that of a marketer, developer, or site owner, it all becomes much, much more simple:

The goal of the search engine is to connect users with the most useful, most precise, most specifically-targeted content to fit their needs. Site owners can benefit from this in that those who visit their site are more likely to be doing so intentionally, in search of related products, services, or solutions. Visitors also benefit from information relevant to the problem they are seeking to solve. These people may become return visitors or even customers, especially if they are brought to the correct page of the site to begin with, which is another important part of your site’s relationship with search providers.

Ideally, these visitors will land on that perfect page to encourage them to stay and read. If that content is informative and interesting, that content likely to be shared or bookmarked as a part of the visitor’s decision-making process. If that content does not offer valuable information, and does not give the visitor any feeling that they may be in the right place, the visitor will often return to the search provider and try other search results. You may never see them again, even if they were looking for services you offer.

Like visitors, search engines pick up on these things too. Search providers’ algorithms are streamlined more and more every day to help their users find what they are looking for, and avoid sites or pages that misrepresent or fail to represent what they have to offer. This is why you need to learn how to recognize and avoid Black-Hat SEO tactics.

Some Signs of White-Hat SEO

  • You are looking to bring the right visitors to your site, which are visitors who have problems or needs that you can solve.
  • You are seeking to reward their visit with information valuable to their decision-making process.
  • You use accurate keywords in your content’s description, title, and url.
  • Keywords can be easily found within the visible content of your page, and make sense in their context, because they are an actual part of the content.
  • Inbound links come from satisfied visitors, leaders in your industry, or magazines and blogs related to your industry.

A Few Signs of Black-Hat SEO

  • Keywords are repeated over and over in the content, to the point of making the content difficult to follow or unpleasant to read.
  • Keywords are in content that is hidden, where it serves no use to the visitor at all.
  • Inbound links are from pay-by-link sites, comments on blogs, pages/sites that serve no purpose other than to provide indexes of junk links.
  • Image alt tags are not worded to inform the reader, who may be sightless or may be a search crawler, what the image actually contains.
  • Content is duplicated from elsewhere, or copied and reworded to seem like unique content.

Black-Hat SEO is very-easily recognized if you think of it: Black Hat SEO is any approach that seeks to trick or manipulate search providers.

White-Hat SEO is just as easy to sum up: White Hat SEO is about creating great content in order reward the right visitors, and minimize bounce rates.

Bounce rates help no one. High bounce rates will only serve to make your marketing a more frustrating process, and prevent you from fine-tuning your marketing machine to reward the ideal visitor for finding your site.

Good SEO, and a good inbound marketing strategy is all about quality links from search engines leading to quality content specialized for quality leads. Quality *and* quantity are essential toward good keyword saturation because good keyword saturation is no-longer just about a page or a post, but the entire content of a site or domain. Site-wide keyword saturation *and* content keyword saturation work together to bring a visitor to the right page of the right site.

alt tags misused in web design can annoy those without sight and could harm search engine placement.

Diagram: How to annoy with alt tags

Blogging and Site-Wide Keyword Density / Keyword Saturation

Blogging is most beneficial from an SEO standpoint, not just in garnering shares and other relevant inbound-links to expand your authority, but in adding to the overall keyword density of your site. Adding to the keyword density of the site as a whole is much more effective than filling individual pages or posts with keywords. New posts also expand the site with fresh, unique content to be indexed, which search engines love.

If your site has 2000 original posts, and 1750 of those posts are somewhat-related to gardening equipment, your post on selecting the right tiller has a good chance of ranking well. If it is useful enough to be shared by a few individuals, it will rank even higher.

Image of advertisement done for Cincinnati Industrial MachineryThe Value of Unique Content

I stress original because unique content is very valuable to your SEO, but shared or duplicated content can have the opposite effect, and serves mostly to give authority to the website(s) of the originating source(s).

Have you ever searched for information and only found the same point of view over and over again in near-identical wording over a few hundred websites? Frustrating, isn’t it? In order to eliminate this frustration, those sites that are sharing information, white papers, and other content provided to them, are far less-likely to get good search placement. – and reword as you will, it will likely be recognized as duplicate content. Doing this only serves to boost the search authority of the originator. Sharing, in moderation can be beneficial to your site’s overall keyword density, if you don’t overdo it, and remember to only share content that has value for your visitors.

Unique content through blogging (and blogging regularly) will allow you to have focused, targeted information on your site for the many individuals that make up your many prospective customers and will allow you to boost the authority of your site for all of those individuals as a whole.

Blogging has become the most essential on-site tool for inbound marketing, and is a must for anyone whose business model depends on being found through search providers.

 

If you are interested in our services for blogging, articles, news releases, advertorials, other content services or custom-building a CMS/COS for your web site, please don’t hesitate to give us a call at 513.961.1174 or contact us through our contact page.

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How Do Ads Work?

How do ad words work?

How do ad words work? They work by displaying your ad in response to visitors searching on specific keywords.

We break up a product offering into ad groups which focus on general product category keyword groups.

A typical average bid would be $2. If it’s higher, we review whether the click results in the visitor going to your “Contact Us” page, spends more time than average on your site (2 minutes) or looked at more than the average number of pages (3 pages). For keywords that result in higher site interaction, we are willing to pay more, up to around $3 per click.
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