Web Multimedia Blog

Multimedia Web Design Advice, Photography, Video, music, Mobile Websites, and Company News.

Web Activity Cycle

joel reinke - Wednesday, September 21, 2011

If you want to have traffic and results online you need Web Activity.  An active site, not a dead one.  It can be hard to know exactly what to do and have reminders to actually do it.  I've thought about this a lot and studied many resources to come up with the "Web Activity Cycle".

It is a resource of knowledge and advice, and its also a mousepad that I designed for keeping these important tasks top-of-mind.  Check it out in my Online Store.

I've put together easy reminders for 10 Weekly and 10 Monthly activities that if done right will grow your online presence.  Some of the suggestions are more standard and others are more advanced and specialized.  In the picture of the product I've blanked out the advice squares so people can't just print it out.  Besides, it works better as a mousepad because its more permanent and is on your desk where you need it.

My advice to you is to order one of these mousepads if you want to keep your existing website or blog getting great traffic.  If you allow it to be a coaching device you can make progress online.

Local Businesses Save Monthly Costs while upgrading their Online Features

joel reinke - Monday, January 03, 2011
Intended Audience: Small Business Owners

Many small to medium sized businesses utilize a similar set of online tools to acheive their hosting and marketing needs.  Here is a breakdown of common tools I see many companies using:

  • Domain Name
  • Hosting Company
  • Constant Contact or similar alternative for Mass Email Marketing
  • A Blog platform
  • Facebook, Twitter, and other social networks
  • An Online Store
  • A CMS: Content Management System
  • A CMS: Client Management System

Not all of these systems are necessarily separate, but they often are. I will show you some examples of these costs, how an alternative will save you money and give you more features to attract web site visitors, and make your job easier.

The Domain Name (registry) is a necessity that there isn't a way to save much money on, so I will only touch briefly on that.  Three options I've worked with for this are Bluehost, Justhost, and GoDaddy.  They seem to all be comparable, but GoDaddy seems to be more expensive right now, unless you use one of the less popular .com alternatives. $10 per year seems like an average for this.

The Hosting is a separate service: where your web site files will actually be served up to the public.  The three companies above do have many differences in costs for hosting.  An average per year for this is around $60 - $120 if you don't choose the cheapest option (which I do not ever recommend). I've also seen hosting companies charging $30-$50 per month just for the hosting with no special features or options.  Based on your CMS needs, one of these main-stream options may work for you.  However, if your needs are more complex, I have an alternative solution that will provide you with turn-key operation of all of your online business needs, and does away with this 'hosting' cost.

The average costs for the domain name and hosting up until this point are normal and fairly par for the course.  It is when you begin adding services such as Mass E-mail Marketing Programs and Online Stores that the cost really begin to add up.


Mass E-mail Marketing Programs are online services such as Constant Contact that allow you to e-mail to multiple people without being potentially blacklisted and can cost you between $15 to $75 per month. 
(If you don't know about why you need a Mass Email Marketing program, and why you can't just email to tons of people: I'd have to write a whole other article about it: long story short:  big bunch of email out at one time = blacklist/spam/etc.)

Maybe you are also running an Online Store or wish to, and also have one or more systems needed for updating your web site.  OR, maybe you don't have an easy to use program for quickly updating your web site.  When you start combining all of these separate systems you might be paying $75 to $150 per month after adding together the monthly costs, annual costs, and cost for purchasing software. 

Please! Can't I just have one easy to use, affordable system?

It does exist.  It's a very easy to use system that brings together an Online Store, Mass Email Marketing, Content Management Systems (blogs, forums, custom data, ++), Client Management System, Secure Web Zones, and much more. On top of all this, it is hosted - so that, plus everything else, can save you a lot of monthly costs.  I would like to emphasize two of the most popular system options. The first is an intro option that's only $14.95 per month (it does not provide an online store but allows for 1000 'mass marketing emails' per month) which is perfect for some small businesses, The second option is $39 per month and covers the online store and allows 10,000 mass marketing emails per month.  This is a hosted option run as part of the Adobe corporation's business solutions so its not just some small server sitting out there somewhere. 

Altogether, if you choose the higher level option and add the $39 per month plus the $10 per year for the Domain Name, this equals around $40 per month VS. the $75 to $150 you might pay for all the other services combined.  Buying all of these systems individually won't necessarily be that much for everybody, but some of those Mass Email Marketing programs keep adding new things to pay for, so the fees could get worse. On the other hand, even if you were paying the same as $40 or less per month (which would be tough to do with hosting, Email Marketing, and an Online store), you would still find a wealth of value by utilizing this system with all of these features under one roof.  You'd start saving so much time in one month that it would more than pay for itself many times over.  Please Note: for the online store there can be other costs, depending on which online payment service you choose to use.  There are some services that have no monthly costs, and others that do.

If you check out my portfolio, you can see that I don't recommend this platform as the only solution to my clients.  If you just want to blog, I can put together a nice custom Wordpress site for you. A simple web site? No problem.  Your own custom social network? I make those too.  But if you want an online store or email marketing or both (especially for both): this could be the thing for you.

Changing over to this system can save you money and give you features you didn't have before.  There is no "set-up cost" for the system itself, but depending on how happy you are with your current web site, and what features you want to set up with the new system, we would set up a project cost based on the complexity of the transition.  If you are totally unhappy with your current web design anyway, this can be an excellent opportunity to redesign or start fresh with a certified web developer.

There are also many alternatives to this option for eCommerce, but none that I've found that can offer such tight integration between these systems.  Contact Joel Reinke to learn more about this excellent system.

Thanks for your time,

-Joel Reinke
Web Designer++

Please Note: These prices are accurate at the time of this posting but may change at any time in the future.

Wordpress as C.M.S. (Content Management System) - Pros and Cons

joel reinke - Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Blog Popularity has led to an evolution for Wordpress:

If you don't know about Blogging: Wordpress has taken a lead in creating an easy to use platform for serving-up content.  So much so that their easy to use Dashboard/Control Panel can also be used as a way to keep the rest of your website up to date.  In addition, there is a simple way to adjust Wordpress so that the blog page doesn't come up first: your 'Home Page' does.  You can make a menu system so the whole blog-run website looks and feels like a website with a blog, not just a blog with some extra pages tacked on.

This means Wordpress can be your complete, C.M.S. (Content Management System)
(Not Client Management System - at one point this got me too)
If CMS still means nothing to you, this is a simple way to think of it: you can edit your own webpage easily with no coding needed (at least after it's initially set up)

Now I'm not going to go into how to set that up, there are many other blogs online about how that works.  What this blog will focus on is how I've implemented this for some of my clients and the PROs and CONs of using Wordpress as your CMS.


What are you looking for in a web authoring platform? AND How tech savvy are you?

 

First obvious thing: You want a Blog.  If you don't, there are some better options out there for CMS's
 
These questions can be a good start for helping determine if Wordpress will work for your website.  For example, there are a lot of free templates out there for Wordpress.  I think these would work fine for a casual blog but a blog for a serious business would want to customize the template (or theme) or start from scratch and build a completely new theme.  Skills required: CSS, php, graphic Design, etc.

Another positive: many hosting companies are offering Wordpress as an easy to install addition to your website.  So you don't need to worry about a complicated installation.  If your host does not provide this easy option, we can evaluate what it would take to install it on your host.

The next important thing is the content you plan to put into Blog Posts and Web Pages.   Aside from the nicely formatted header, footer, and (optional) sidebar, and cool backgrounds and designs that will be on your page: There is that content section of each page.  Like for this post, it is just the text and images for this 'article'.  Not the graphics up at the top for the menu, etc.  For just the posts or pages, will you need any special formatting?  If so, maybe Wordpress isn't right for you.  Most of the special formatting can be designed for the rest of the page, but the content section should be kept simple - text, images, movies, and whatever else you can add in - in a straight forward layout. 

WHY?  If you put special formatting into the Wordpress page using their editor, sometimes it can strip it out and you're left with a broken design until you fix it.  It especially can have problems with CSS added in (div's especially).  If you code in HTML directly you can avoid this, but if you switch back over to the graphic editor it often strips it out. 

But, you really shouldn't need special formatting in your post or page.  Design or hire someone to design the wordpress theme so it looks great with simple posts/pages and then when you're writing your posts you can go quickly and not worry about special formatting, just content.

A bit more on 'How tech savvy are you?'  - If you can use email and have ever uploaded a photo onto anything online, you can use Wordpress.  The only exceptions are if you want to customize the look and feel of your blog, you need skills in HTML, CSS, PHP, and graphic design skills or ready to use graphics.  Contact Us if you need assistance here.

There are exceptions to the 'rule' mentioned above about special formatting on pages.  See www.bodyspaonline.com for examples.  If you notice the background changes for each section and there are other formatting changes as well.  All of this was done with specialized design with PHP and CSS but the client doesn't need to worry about that.  She just makes changes or additions to pages - doesn't mess with any special formatting - and the formatting is handled behind the scenes.  The only thing that can throw a monkey wrench into it is if <div>'s get added in and/or tags don't get closed.  The point is: use the theme/design to do special formatting.


There is a lot more to it, but in summary:

Pros:

  • Free
  • Has a WYSIWYG editor (What You See Is What You Get) = easy to use tool for anyone to edit web pages
  • Some hosting services provide easy install
  • Many Free Themes/Templates that can be a good starting point (Hire us to customize them or from scratch)
  • Can easily insert images, movies, links, and much more

Cons:

  • Customization requires technical skills
  • Special Formatting in content section can cause problems
  • Won't do everything for you (Online Store, E-mail Marketing, Social Networking, :) cook for you)

Thanks for checking in.  In a future post I'll talk more about other C.M.S. options that can provide some of the things Wordpress is limited on.

Still, Wordpress is great!  It's doing way more than it was originally intended for.

Contact Mountain Multimedia if you need a custom designed Wordpress Theme or Plug-in.

Welcome to the Web Multimedia Blog

joel reinke - Thursday, February 25, 2010
Hello,

Welcome to Mountain MultiMedia Web Design's new blog!  We offer complete online solutions with online business functionality.  Its not just online Store software, its a complete package to help you build online success.

Located in Edmonds Web Design this blog is a resource for you for many needs: advice on web design, entertainment and photographs,  news about new offerings from us, and other educational resources related to online design.

Explore the rest of this website to learn about the features of this platform. Here, I wanted to point out were some great ideas about uses for online businesses:
  • Turn your idea into a business: One of the solutions offered by Mountain Multimedia Web Design is a great Online Store Platform and it is really for anyone who has an idea, hobby, full business,or passion that has marketable potential.  You could take this and have a real money stream on your hands.  Whether this is a full time job for you or something you want to run on the side, Mountain Multimedia's Joel Reinke can consult with you to make your idea hammer out into a real business.
  • You can sell e-products with this (online products with no shipping like files and programs)!  You could make your own iTunes for example.  or maybe sell photos, software (shareware), etc. 
  • Make your own subscription based service - like a monthly fee for stock photography.

    I hope I've given you some food for thought.

    Thanks, Until Next time.

    -Joel Reinke
     Certified Web Developer