The ATAK Interactive Blog

Monthly Archives: April 2010

Web sites need a strategy and implementation plan, and website owners should know there is a big difference between a graphic designer “who makes websites” and a real website master or website agency. A website is a multi dimensional interactive experience and it is significantly different than the thought process that goes into making a flat design for printing. In 2010 and beyond, website owners need to make smart moves, and hiring the right web design company will save a ton of money and time.

Below are some quick website tips and guidance about website design before you start your project.

1. Do not hire a print graphic designer who “also does websites, sometimes.” You will be calling ATAK Interactive or an agency like ours in a few months. Print designers are great…at print design. The strategy of website design is completely different. This also applies to home network engineers who “do websites sometimes.” Businesses need a web development team who knows how to think “web” and understand user experience planning.

2. Does your site have a landing page, or a flash intro? If it does, start over. If your website requires the home page to load and then launches in a pop up (mostly a flash site issue), start over. Get your message to your users within a couple of seconds and they will stay. It is hard to keep people watching the “show”  whether audio or video or both for too long. Web sites DO NOT need to load in a pop up window and do not need 20 second sequences to get the message across.

3. Your website content is just as important as your website design. Search engines love KEYWORD RICH TEXT. Make sure your home page has a welcome message with keywords users will use to find your service or goods. The website design agency you hire should provide you with some recommendations or a quote to do this for you.

4. Don’t hide what you do. People want to understand your business and figure your site out fast. Hit users with a strong message and guide the user types to the sections you want each to see.  Segment your site by allocating clear sections to important/featured pieces you want users to see and let them dig deeper by clicking on prominent call to action buttons. Make it clear for users to get to where they need to go.

5. Make your buttons easy to understand. Redesign your buttons or place them more prominently if your users cannot tell where your website buttons will take them.

6. Follow navigation standards and best practices. People are used to common standards where the navigation is across the top or on the left hand side. User tend to be annoyed and lost in your site if you over design and get inefficiently creative. Websites with inefficiencies quickly lose their interest. Also make sure to have a contact us page and a site map because they are essential for search and the conversion of traffic to $$$$. Study competitors too, and beat them.

7. Users will leave immediately if your website is designed for broadband users only. Many people still have slow mobile networks and home networks…believe it. Make your home page, especially, as fast loading as possible. Use large file types and high resolution graphics files on inner website pages, when and only if users are specifically requesting it.

8. If you have a search feature, make sure it is necessary and useful. A 7 page website does not need a search field. Sites should be easy enough to navigate without them. If you have a ton of products for your ecommerce website, search could very well be needed. Sometimes advanced search works even better. Make sure your search tool works!

9. If you put audio or video with audio on your website, let users turn it off. People browse at work, on a bus, at the mall…everywhere. Embarrass them and they will resent you. ATAK Interactive recommends you make the default setting for any home page music as off, and let users click on the on button if they want to hear your site music.

10. When you have a landing page that says “would you like to visit our high resolution site or our low resolution site” you are really asking your potential customer, “would you like to go to my ugly store, or my pretty one?” You have a poor website design if your website asks users if they would like to open a low or high bandwidth website. The same principal applies. The problem with high bandwidth sites is that they are “supposedly” the better store, but in reality they take forever to load. Think about the user experience and who ATAK Interactive likes to call the “lowest common denominator” (design and program so that the system allows for the simplest minds to understand) and keep it simple, clean, fast, and seo friendly.

11. Text navigations are better than images but this is not a huge deal. We are just saying that, if you can, use text with clever CSS. Again, images and flash are great when used in a smart fashion, but keyword rich text and clean code is really king.

12. Do not, in any way, let your website use any code that forces the user’s browser window to resize, reconfigure, whatever. This trick is mostly used in spam websites and people negatively associate that feature automatically.

13. New technology is cool, but it does not mean you need to have it. This happened with some of the more colorful and visual programming languages flash, java, and ajax. Only use these tools when they improve the user experience, not for the sake of technology. Consider your goals.

14. Your website must work in Internet Explorer, Firefox, Google Chrome, and should even look good in Opera and on mobile devices if your users require. Welcome to 2010 ladies and gents! Make sure your website designers can do this before you start your new website design project. You cannot afford to lose market share thanks to oversights like this. Some web developers offer these services, but do not include them as standard. Please make sure you ask what systems your website will display on perfectly.

15. Drop down menus are good as compliments but you should always try to get all of your important page titles into your navigations logically (top and left). Make your sites easy to navigate and quickly find information.

16. Deliver your video in an embedded player. Flash video is good and is cross platform and cross browser compatible. This is not necessarily true in the mobile website world yet and mobile website owners need to move with caution right now. Flash is wonderful for animation, interfaces, adding functionality, and more but this DOES NOT mean your entire website needs to be flash. All flash sites set you at a disadvantage in web marketing against smarter competition. You can embed pieces of flash into your smartly coded website. There are exceptions in the cases of companies that have such great brand recognition and outside marketing, that Search traffic is not their primary concern. In those cases the image and quality of brand become the primary focus.

Keep these website rules in mind for 2010 and beyond. Your website is your 24/7 business front. Think user experience first, search engines second, browser compatibility third, competitors to beat fourth, and don’t forget to hire a website or ecommerce website design company that has a good track record and success stories. Good websites are always changing and improving. Update your website frequently and monitor competition so you make sure to beat them.

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Los Angeles, CA – April 8, 2010 – ATAK Interactive (www.atakinteractive.com), the Los Angeles web design firm for e-commerce solutions, is a corporate sponsor of the Junior League of Pasadena, Inc.’s Annual Chocolate Chip Ball.

The 2nd Annual Chocolate Chip Ball will take place at a private club in Pasadena on April 24, 2010 and will feature some of the most delectable chocolate desserts in town, with proceeds benefitting the Junior League of Pasadena’s community programs.

ATAK Interactive is proud to help support the event and the organization’s goal by providing custom design, formatting, printing and delivery of their program at no cost.

Josh Goodman, President and CEO of ATAK Interactive, says, “ATAK Interactive is proud to support the Junior League of Pasadena in their annual Chocolate Chip Ball Fundraiser, and we are glad to do our part in helping them to give back to the community.”

For more information about the Junior League of Pasadena Inc and the Chocolate Chip Ball, visit www.jrleaguepasadena.org

For more information about ATAK Interactive and their services, visit www.atakinteractive.com or call 310 526 7493

About ATAK Interactive:

ATAK Interactive is a leading web design and development firm that specializes in ecommerce website development. With a network of over 150 designers, ATAK offers solutions for online marketing, advertising, website design, branding, SEO and social media marketing. The ATAK Interactive team has a track record of success in building applications for fortune 500 clients, real estate professionals, school districts, government agencies and retail giants. The company was founded in 2005 by David Ephraim and Josh Goodman. Together, they are continuously working to develop new technologies such as innovative ways to encourage users stay on websites longer.

For more information on ATAK Interactive, or to sign up for their monthly newsletter visit www.atakinteractive.com

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When designing an ecommerce website, one can take a lot of good lessons from a well oiled brick and mortar operation. ATAK Interactive is an ecommerce website development company in Los Angeles, California who offers 10 lessons from a brick and mortar model that one can apply to their website plan.

1. Add Security and Show it’s There: Think about walking into a store. Right away one sees credit card icons on the front door and a well dressed security officer at the door greeting customers. Security not only keeps users from stealing, but security also helps users feel safe and protected. Make sure you show your users that the site is secure. Because you sell products, make sure your website has a SSL which is encryption for your website. Once this is done, show the icon provided by the SSL Company on the home page to show users it is there. Users want to see two things, the logos for all website security measures, as well as the little lock icon in your web browser that confirms the site is secure. Look professional and secure, it goes a long way.

2. Make Your Website Easy for Users to Navigate: Just like physical retail or wholesale store, users need to find what they want quickly. Properly named and described aisles and good shelving display can directly correlate to online store. Don’t make users watch a video or walk down isle to isle before they can figure out how they can get to where they want to be. Don’t make them sign up for the store card to purchase anything, and offer multiple ways to get to the same place. Keep it simple and easy for young or old users to find info and purchase.

3. Add familiar logos, BBB, and other Organizations that Show Credibility: When going to a restaurant for the first time, most look for the health rating sign on the window, or a Michelin star plaque on the wall. They want to know how the experts have rated the service. Well, your web site users want the same thing. If you are affiliated or recommended by credible organizations, make sure users can see and acknowledge. Users will feel safer on your website if they know reliable affiliates recommend you. Testimonials are also a good way of building confidence from your prospective users.

4. Offer All Payment Options: As a shopper sometimes I have cash, sometimes a credit card, sometimes a gift card, and sometimes check or debit card. Sometimes I have my AMEX and sometimes a VISA. Most stores let the shopper spend any way he or she wants, and if they don’t accept what  customers have their pockets customers leave. Do the same on your website. Also, heavily consider using PayPal and Google Checkout too. Let people pay how they want.

5. Show Your Products in their Best Light: Make sure, just like in your brick and mortar, that your ecommerce website product photos make your product look as appealing and enticing as possible. This is your chance at making an impression. Think about how much time and effort a simple cereal company puts into their packaging. On a website you need to do the same with your product shots. Show the fine details of your products and show alternative views. If the product is a shirt, show it with a person wearing it and show how it will look with pants and then sell the pants as well.

6. Expanded Store Hours Increase Chances for Sales: This lesson is obvious, but with an ecommerce store, your business never fully closes down. Sure, customer service may not be available for parts of the day, for example if you do not want to pay for agents at 2 in the morning, but users can still place orders, look for info, price match, and more.

7. Ecommerce Website Stores Need Policies Too: Every store has rules, policies, and procedures. Make sure all are clearly displayed on your website so customers are not hit with unexpected fees, return issues, and more. Make a customer service section for your ecommerce website and make sure users can clearly find all common answers to questions.

8. Consider all of your customers. If you didn’t know, some of your biggest customers are the Search Engines! Make sure that all users can get to sections they need, easily, without need to fuss. For search engines, make sure they can find you. Like a normal customer, search engines need directions to your store. Ecommerce websites require special search engine optimization practices, especially if the website store is in a moderately to highly competitive marketplace.

9. Store Name, Location, and Contact Information are All Important: Customers do not want to guess where your store is or try to remember how to spell your store name to try to find it in the first place in a directory. Make your URL something people will remember. Also, if you are a company that sells wood, try putting “wood” in your URL like AndersonWood.com or something along those lines.

Also, on the web, you must show you actually exist and users can and will be able to get in touch with customer service when they need to. Try to include contact info on every page of the site, like at the top in your header for example. Also provide alternative methods of contact such as contact forms and links to social networking sites you have profiles at. Customers need to know they can contact you if something goes wrong or they do not receive their purchase.

10. Make Checkout Fast. Physical retail stores learned that people like to check out fast, and some retailers even let users check out by themselves if the idea is sensible.  Your local supermarket is a great example of online checkout taken to the retail level with the institution of self checkout lanes to skip the line. Users don’t like to wait in line forever. Get them in, get them out, make sure they come back because they are happy. Good ecommerce websites should have one page checkout and easy customer account creation. Users should not have any chance to back out of pages because they do not know where they are or they are dissatisfied with the checkout process.

11. BONUS! Include Testimonials: Written testimonials with pictures are very good for your site and sales conversions. Add audio and you look even better. Testimonials are more believable if there is a name and place associated with the actual text.

If you are planning to start ecommerce website design, think about a physical location that is successful. Also take the time to look at e-commerce stores that have a successful model. Next time you shop on line take some time to notice what it is about certain ecommerce websites you shop at that make you feel safe and secure when purchasing from them. Then, apply those lessons to your own website. Last, think about your website as your customers will experience it. Do whatever you need to do to help them feel confident about shopping with your business online.

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When planning for a new website marketing campaign, business would be well served by consideration of a comprehensive web marketing strategy. Such strategy would include for example, an evaluation of search engine optimization methodologies. Website design and development strategies which yield effective search engine results are key to successful online promotion and marketing.  There are a few popular methodologies which can achieve success online, and receive higher search engine rankings. While the official search algorithms for Google Yahoo, and Bing, (others too) are proprietary, it is generally accepted that implementing an ‘aged’ Domain Name instead of a new Domain Name can assist in receiving higher search engine results.

Some issues which affect search engine results of a website:

  1. The website PageRank
  2. The amount of website traffic
  3. The number of links from other websites
  4. The age of the website Domain Name
  5. The website getting ‘sandboxed’ by Google

When developing a website, deploying solutions for higher PageRank, linking from other websites, and generating new website traffic can become a time consuming and labor intensive process.  However, other factors in search engine algorithms are easier to address, such as the age of a website Domain Name.

In short, a longer duration of time that a website Domain Name has been active, the higher the likelihood that this website Domain Name will be ranked higher in search engine results.

There are a few reasons why this works:

First of all, aged Domain Names are not ‘sandboxed’ by Google.  While there is debate as to whether Google does this and to what extent, many think that new Domain Names are subject to restrictions for the first 90 days or so, and therefore will receive less website traffic.

Secondly, aged Domain Names have the benefit of other websites having already linked to them.  For example, a new website could be implemented with an aged Domain Name, and would have existing links from other websites already active.

Third, aged Domain Names have the benefit of existing website traffic.  More specifically, a new website could be implemented with an aged Domain Name, and would already have a history of existing website traffic.

Some issues of concern:

  1. Make sure the aged Domain Name has not been banned
  2. Research the quality of the aged Domain Name in terms of links and traffic

In conclusion, website development strategies should be comprehensive, and consider many factors when promoting a new online marketing campaign, including search engine optimization.  The purchase of an aged Domain Name offers the benefit of garnering higher search engine results for a new website.  While the successful deployment of a new website takes time, preparation, and effort, the purchase of an aged Domain Name is an easy way to improve results for a new website.

This article talks about age of domain name and how much aged domain name is important for SEO. There are certain factors that influence domain age and its online visibility. To learn more about SEO visit www.atakinteractive.com, a leading Los Angeles SEO company.

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There are some points and tips to be kept in mind when you are going for online marketing businesses. These methodical points surely help to boost businesses. This write up explains how to focus on your online marketing. If you do not have a web site for your business, get one. What are you waiting for? Use these Ecommerce SEO checklist (along with other research because this article alone will not cut it) when planning your web site.

1. Analyze your website from a user perspective: Consider all user types and ask yourself, “If I was this user, can I use this site easily and find the information I need?”

2. Modern Look: Is your website design current and compelling? If a user comes to your site while comparing with your competition, will they stay? Does your website give users the most confidence in your industry? You only get one chance to make a first impression.

3. Website Optimized for Search (On-Page SEO): Is your site built properly so it can be found by major search engines? Do you have proper keywords and meta tags used throughout the pages of your site? Do you even know what this means?

4. Blog: Do you have a blog? Are you using a blog to talk about your services and products? This is an important tool used to create buzz and drive targeted traffic to your site. Plus, blogs rank well with search engines and provide other complimentary benefits to your website.

5. Newsletter: This is an important way to communicate with your leads, develop trust, grow brand awareness, and increase business. A newsletter is used for a promotion or a sale, industry news, new product info, and other insight your customers will value. You are reading our newsletter right now.

6. Local Search Engine Marketing: Submit your businesses and websites to the major search engines “local search listings” areas (Google, Yahoo!, Bing). Also, sign up for web services that promote local business, such as Yelp, CitySearch, Chambers of Commerce, etc.

7. Informative Articles and Resources: Write and add original, informative, relevant articles about your services and business. Search rankings will improve as you properly post more keyword rich content on your site. Search engines look for you to be a unique resource and an expert on your material.

8. Social Media: Sign up for these new media outlets called social media and use them. Social Media includes Twitter feeds, Facebook pages, YouTube videos, Blogs, Linked In accounts, MySpace pages, and many others. Social media is used to create buzz and manage outward communication with your customers and fans.

9. Press Releases: Take the time to write a press release about something new or interesting going on at your company. Search engines love to see releases go out over the web, usually resulting in a nice bump in traffic to your site.

10. Paid Advertising and PPC (Pay-Per-Click): Do you have an event to fill, or products that needs to sell right away? The best way to get instant traffic to your site is to use the direct pay for visit model of pay-per-click advertising. This marketing method allows you to choose what you are willing to spend for each visitor to your site.

These Ecommerce SEO checklist is brought you by ATAK Interactive, a leading Ecommerce website design company and by employing these SEO tips you will be able to increase the search engine traffic that your site generates.

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