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Saturday, May 30, 2015

5 SEO Strategies for 2015


Nowadays, most people know what SEO (search engine optimization) is and how it helps a business successful. There are some strategies that worth spending time to update them.


1. Increase site speed


Google has made that site speed matter in search rankings since 2010. The faster sites not only get better on search rankings but also improve user experience. You can test site speed with Google Page Speed Insights

There are few ways to speed up your site:
  • Optimize images – compress images and crop images to correct size
  • Reduce the number of plugins
  • Minify CSS and JavaScript

2. Create and optimize for mobile users


Having a mobile-friendly site impacts your SEO. Recently Google adds a “mobile-friendly” label to mobile search results for better user experience. The mobile-friendly means a user can view the website’s content without to zoom in or horizontally scroll to read. You can see if your website passes Google’s mobile-friendly test.

I’ve gathered some important data about online searchers’ expectations:
  • Local searches lead 50% of mobile users to visit stores (Search Engine Watch)
  • 72% of consumers expect brands to have mobile-friendly sites (adweek)
  • 48% of mobile visitors who visit a site that is not mobile-friendly felt that the company just didn’t care about their business (Reach Local)
  • 9 out of 10 mobile search users have “taken action as a result of a mobile search, with over half leading to a purchase." (Search Engine Land)
  • Studies show that by the year 2016, mobile searches will overtake PC searches for local search (Reach Local)
  • 3 out of 5 consumers search for local businesses on their smartphone (Reach Local)
These are some reasons why your website should be mobile-friendly.


3. Grow Natural Links


According to the Moz 2014 Local Search Ranking Factors Survey, one of the top five factors is link signals to the site or the specific page.

These steps can help you build backlinks to your site:
  • Create a local business listing on Google Places
  • Create backlinks by having the account in social media like LinkedIn, Google + or Facebook. Try to update your company activities or what you’ve done for community on daily basis in those accounts. When users or your followers see it helpful, they will share your content.
  • Have a high quality and frequently updated blog that is relevant for your audience.

4. Unblock JavaScript and CSS from Google Fetching


From Google webmaster central blog
For optimal rendering and indexing, our new guideline specifies that you should allow Googlebot access to the JavaScript, CSS, and image files that your pages use. This provides you optimal rendering and indexing for your site. Disallowing crawling of Javascript or CSS files in your site’s robots.txt directly harms how well our algorithms render and index your content and can result in suboptimal rankings.

If your website have experienced block JavaScript and CSS from Google fetching. It’s time to fix this problem. How Google see you? and How to allow Google to view my CSS & JavaScript


5. HTTPS as a ranking signal


Google announced that HTTPS would now become a ranking signal. That means websites use secure, encrypted connections may get a boost in Google rankings.

But there are costs to enable HTTPS for your website.
  • Host with a dedicated IP address
  • Buy a certificate
  • Activate the certificate
  • Install the certificate
  • Update your site to use HTTPS

However, Google said “For now it's only a very lightweight signal.” But they may decide to strengthen it over time. For an informational website that doesn't handle any customer data, at this point there's probably not enough SEO value to make the switch.

In the end SEO is an ongoing process, however keep updating your SEO strategies will help your website success for many years to come.


NWDS Alaska Web Design


About NWDS - founded in 2003 by six software engineers, NorthWest Data Solutions (NWDS) provides custom computer programming and systems design services. NWDS creates many types of software, including e-commerce, financial, defense, engineering, logistics, aviation and more. www.nwds-ak.com

Friday, May 8, 2015

How to choose colors that fit your brand



Color increases brand recognition by 80%, and 85% of shoppers place color as a primary reason for why they buy a particular product, according to a infographic from KISSmetircs. It is essential to choose a color or a combination of colors for your brand.

Color meaning

  • Red – exciting, strong, energizing, fast

  • Orange – sociable, adventurous, affordable, warm, optimistic, cheerful


  • Yellow – happy, uplifting, creativity, challenging

  • Green – reliable, sympathetic, generous, adaptable

  • Turquoise – idealistic, creativity, compassionate, healing, self-sufficient

  • Blue – loyal, caring, reliable, conservative, idealistic, devoted

  • Indigo – responsible, obedient, sincere, structural

  • Purple – individual, creative, inventive, psychic, mysterious, fantastic

  • Magenta – loving, supportive, innovative, artistic

  • Pink – unconditional, understanding, warm, innocent, feminine

  • Gold – wealthy, luxurious, victorious, beautiful, attractive

  • Silver – modern, sleek, scientific, distinguished, calm, imaginative, feminine

  • Black – powerful, protective, comfortable, sophisticated, mysterious

  • White – innocent, pure, equal, simple, neat, open

  • Grey – intelligent, classic, mature, refined, conservative, neutral

  • Brown – practical, comfortable, reliable, friendly, humble, natural, organic


Source: Empower Yourself with Color Psychology

How to select your color

  • Choose a color that best describes your brand’s personality.
    Brand’s personality is like human’s personality. Choose colors that represent your brand’s personality; your brand is strong, sophisticated and mysterious; adventurous, optimistic and self-confident; or idealistic, creative and inspiring.
  • Know the impact of colors to consumers.
    The research shows colors have a significant impact on the logo and the brand.
    The study revealed that blue logos invoked feelings of confidence, success and reliability; green logos invoked perceptions of environmental friendliness, toughness, durability, masculinity and sustainability; purple logos invoked femininity, glamor and charm; pink logos gave the perception of youth, imagination and fashionable; yellow logos invoked perceptions of fun and modernity; and red logos brought feelings of expertise and self-assurance.
  • Consider cultural interpretations.
    For example, blue is the most preferred color across cultures. Red is the color of happiness and celebration in China, often seen red is being used in New Year or wedding. Black associates with death in Thailand.

Here are some resources you may find useful:





NWDS Alaska Web Design


About NWDS  - founded in 2003 by six software engineers, NorthWest Data Solutions (NWDS) provides custom computer programming and systems design services. NWDS creates many types of software, including e-commerce, financial, defense, engineering, logistics, aviation and more. www.nwds-ak.com

How Website Design Affects Your Business

Here are some reasons how the design affects your business.



1. Credibility


According to Stanford University, the study shows 46% of people judge the credibility of a business based on the design.

It's not enough that you just have a website but you must have a professional-looking design. Since many people now search for information online before making a purchase, your site may be the first chance to make a good impression to potential customers.


2. Responsive design


Why does responsive design matter? A responsive website is designed to fit any size of screen when someone is using to view your website (desktop, tablet, smart phone, etc.). Here why responsive design matters to your business.
  • The number of smartphones globally used will reach 2 billion in 2015. The number of smartphone users is growing each year. If your website is not responsive, you risk losing a big number of visitors to your site.
  • Google released the mobile friendly update on April 21st. The update will potentially give a ranking boost to mobile-friendly pages in Google’s mobile search results.
  • Responsive design provides the better user experience for each device. The better your website pleases visitors; most likely they will come back again.

3. Slow loading web pages


40% of people abandon a website that takes more than 3 seconds to load. Once visitors find you on search results, they click your website. You have only 3 seconds to have your webpage load, if not you have very high chance to lose potential customers.


4. Good content


If your website do good jobs for all of above reasons, but you don’t have good content. That will be huge impact to your website.
  • Write for fast reading. People tend to be in research mode when they are reading online; use one concept per paragraph, make sure the key idea is at the beginning, and remove redundant words.
  • Have content that relevant to your business.
  • Provide useful information and images that visitors expected.

Your website is part of your business. You may use it as one of your marketing tools and with some other reasons. It should give you the best results to your business.



NWDS Alaska Web Design


About NWDS - founded in 2003 by six software engineers, NorthWest Data Solutions (NWDS) provides custom computer programming and systems design services. NWDS creates many types of software, including e-commerce, financial, defense, engineering, logistics, aviation and more. www.nwds-ak.com

Monday, February 16, 2015

How do I design a logo?

Logo design is not just creating an identity or brand, but it needs to be scalable, memorable, versatile, and appropriate.

Some rules that I always stick with when designing a logo.

1. Simple

    A simple logo makes it easier to recognize and remember than the complex one. The other reason is the more shapes being used the harder to keep them clear in small size.


2. Memorable

    Your logo should be unique and stand out from the others in your field. I usually try to avoid the overly used symbol. For example, how many logos incorporate with Alaska flag that represent business logo in Alaska? Because you do business in Alaska, it doesn’t need to have Alaska flag in your logo. “A logo doesn’t need to say what a company does” David Airey, he writes on the popular logo design site Logo Design Love.


3. Versatile

    A good logo should look good in black and white as well as color. It should stay effective when print on different kind of mediums.


4. Appropriate

    Your logo must be relevant to your target audience. A logo is designed for a lawyer should look and feel professional and conservative, which is opposite feeling with a child day care logo.


NWDS Alaska Web Design


About NWDS - founded in 2003 by six software engineers, NorthWest Data Solutions (NWDS) provides custom computer programming and systems design services. NWDS creates many types of software, including e-commerce, financial, defense, engineering, logistics, aviation and more. www.nwds-ak.com

9 Ways Your Website is Driving Customers Away


You want your website engage new customers, but these mistakes could drive them away.



1. Registration form


There are some websites like Real Estate Listings; register users only will be able to see their properties. Asking users to register right away can just drive them to your competitors.

2. Auto playing music or video


This is unexpected. Music on websites is not a good idea. If you need music on your site have a link to turn it ON/OFF as an option. The same applies to video. Disable auto play on your videos, have users control what they want.

3. Looks old and outdated


Take a look at your website. Does it look old and outdate compared to your competitors? Does it look good on all devices? If not, maybe it’s time for a website redesign.

4. Stale information


If your website offers a free tool kit but already expired last year. That’s not a good sign for your potentials and repeat customers, they probably won’t come back.


5. It’s hard to find information


Make it easy to find what you do and what you offer. Ensure users can contact you if they need more information or problems. It’s a good idea to have phone number and email address in the footer on all pages.


6. It’s hard to navigate


Make sure you main products or services are easy to find in 5-10 seconds after your users arrive. Users are not going to click through several pages to get to the information they want. If your navigation is confusing, users will leave your website. And that will affect your bouncing rate higher also.


7. Content problems


  • Large blocks of text that are difficult to read. You can portion into small chunks and surround it with white space.
  • If you’d like your users to read easily on your web pages, avoid black background with light color text or text is too small.

8. Slow loading web pages


KISSmetrics shows 47% of consumers expect a web page to load in 2 seconds or less. If your web pages take more than a couple of seconds to load, most likely users will go to your competitors’ website.


9. Annoying ads


The ads that follow users around make it impossible to read the content. It leaves only one option for users is get out of the website. The study in Journal of Marketing Research reveals
The practice of running annoying ads can cost more money than it earns, as people are more likely to abandon sites on which they are present. In addition, in the presence of annoying ads, people were less accurate in remembering what they had read.

The key to have an engaging website is to provide users with an excellent experience. If you think your website may have one or more of these mistakes that drive users away. It may be time to update your site to be better.



NWDS Alaska Web Design


About NWDS - founded in 2003 by six software engineers, NorthWest Data Solutions (NWDS) provides custom computer programming and systems design services. NWDS creates many types of software, including e-commerce, financial, defense, engineering, logistics, aviation and more. www.nwds-ak.com

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Log in Design for Regina Airport Authority

Regina Airport Authority is a non-profit corporation which operates Regina International Airport under a 60-year lease from Transport Canada. Their mission is to manage and operate their airport in a safe, secure, efficient, commercially viable and environmentally responsible manner.


Screen shot of existing log in page.


First Design


I’d like to have the login page looks similar to their current website. So I took one image and incorporated it to my new design. In order to turn it to the nice background image, I made it blur with Photoshop Gaussian Blur. And I decided to center all elements. Then added color to username, password, and login boxes with their logo color scheme. The rest of the content, I wrapped with slightly transparent white background.


Screen shot of first design.



Second design


The second design, I used the image from current login page. But half of this image had very bright light. It could draw users’ eyes to it so I decided to cover with login form. It turned out great since the bright part helped to draw attention to the form. Besides that, I relocated “REGINA AIRPORT AUTHORITY’S SMS PROGRAM” to the left side which pointed to the form. The rest of the content left on white background made it easy to read.


Screen shot of second design.


Both designs are looking good now. We will have our client make decision which one should be their new login page.


NWDS Alaska Web Design


About NWDS - founded in 2003 by six software engineers, NorthWest Data Solutions (NWDS) provides custom computer programming and systems design services. NWDS creates many types of software, including e-commerce, financial, defense, engineering, logistics, aviation and more. www.nwds-ak.com

Do you need a new logo?


A logo is one of the most important aspects of your business. It is not just making a good first impression. But it represents your business on every medium like your website, business cards, letterheads and etc. If done well, a logo can boost sales and recognition.


Here are some of the reasons you may need a new logo.

1. Created by an amateur


If your logo created by someone who doesn’t know about logo design. Your logo may use clip art or created with raster graphic like photoshop. And you don’t have other formats beside jpg or png, so you should consider having a new logo. A good logo should be created by a vector-based like illustrator, which allows for reproduction in all media and all sizes.



2. Is your logo readable in all sizes?


When a logo tries to add too many details, it becomes fuzzy and unreadable in a small size. A logo should be simple and easy to read in all sizes.


3. It doesn’t work in all formats


Your logo should work well for both prints and online uses. It should be effective in black and white as well as full color.


4. Does your logo feel clich├ęd or overused?


You want your logo to be unique and memorable. Do not use fonts or elements that overuse. A clich├ęd or generic logo won’t make your logo stand out from the others.



5. The nature of your business changed


Businesses evolve over time, your brand and logo should reflect that. It may be time for a new look of your growing company.



NWDS Alaska Web Design


About NWDS - founded in 2003 by six software engineers, NorthWest Data Solutions (NWDS) provides custom computer programming and systems design services. NWDS creates many types of software, including e-commerce, financial, defense, engineering, logistics, aviation and more. www.nwds-ak.com