Landau Design logo

Do You Need More Than 1 Bird in Your Twitter Pen?


Today we sat down and talked about how we are using Twitter in business. What we've come to realize is that personal Tweets are often not in line with what our business is all about. While a great deal of our tweets are related to Joomla, Joomla training or web design, so many others are related to parenting, helping animals or education. We have diverse groups of Twitter followers, and our business message was getting diluted. So today we created the Landau Design Twitter account.

Brand is very important to all businesses, and when the principal of a company is strongly aligned with a company brand, it is sometimes difficult to separate the two. Entrepreneurs know this all too well, since often they are seen as the one and only expert in their company.

How do you decide if you should have separate Twitter IDs?
Ask yourself the following questions to determine if you should separate your personal and business Twitter IDs:

  • Is Twitter a key factor in establishing and expanding your online presence?
  • Are your personal and business interests divergent?
  • Are you working on establishing a personal brand separate from your company brand?
  • Are you using Twitter for marketing your business?
  • Would your personal tweets be be TMI (too much information) for potential clients?
  • Do you have the time to manage more than one Twitter account?
  • Do you have multiple employees who could contribute to a company Twitter account?
If you answer yes to 4 or more of the above questions, you should consider establishing a business identity separate from your personal identity on Twitter.

Landau Design Supports Green Hosting

For 2010 Landau Design has committed to reducing our carbon footprint. In a company that does development work, our electrical output is a big part of our energy consumption. As a way to reduce our energy output, we are committed to utilizing a green hosting company for all our hosting needs, and we recommend green hosting to all our clients.

What is green hosting?
Companies who receive the official green hosting label have done specific things to reduce their carbon footprint. As the owner and operator of servers that are on 24/7, you can imagine the electrical energy they consume. Read How Can Website Hosting be Green? to find out how these companies do their part to help the environment.

Please join us in our commitment to help the environment. All the little steps we each take will combine together to make a big difference!

Did You Know LinkedIn is Connected with Twitter?

LinkedIn has employed a fun new tool that allows you to pull your Twitter tweets into your LinkedIn profile. These tools combined can make these two arenas even more powerful for sharing your ideas. The icon for this marriage is the peanut butter/chocolate introduction made popular by Reese's many decades ago.

To take advantage of this new connection, simply click on the edit button on the Twitter line on your profile page (see red arrow on screenshot). Follow the simple instructions, and now your Twitter and LinkedIn accounts will be connected.

There are variables when setting this connection that allow you to indicate of you want all tweets shared on LinkedIn, or only tweets that include a #in hashtag. In this way you are in control of what does and does not show up.

Why is this helpful? First of all, your Tweets can now be shown on your LinkedIn account, which means you can share information without extra effort. Also, your LinkedIn status will be updated when you Tweet, which means your LinkedIn profile will always be recently updated, which keeps you at the top of search results. You can also now tweet from within your LinkedIn account, which saves more time as you share your information across multiple networks.

For a more detailed overview of this feature, visit the LinkedIn Learning center. or view this online video tutorial to setup a LinkedIn/Twitter connection.

17 of the Best Cheap Online Productivity Tools

One of the best things you can do is to share your non-proprietary secrets with your clients. It is always nice to do something helpful and everyone likes to get something worthwhile for free. So in that light, here are my “Best cheap productivity tools from the web”:

Just for Fun:


1. Eventually everyone needs to know how to say something in a language they don’t know. Try Free Translations.

2. If you need to convert a measurement of any kind, visit Online Conversions.

3. How long will it take to get to that cross-town appointment in LA traffic? Start by looking at the Caltans map for sig alerts

4. So you just missed a call. Your caller ID shows a number you don’t recognize. Is it a telemarketer or a new client you should call back now? Try a reverse phone number lookup FREE.

5. Do you have nostalgia itch on your lunch hour and want to know who sang that song you heard on the oldies radio this morning? Look it up in an archive for books, music and other stuff FREE.

6. So you are really bored or need your funny bone tickled? Have a laugh and then another.

7. If you crave news from somewhere other than the commercial networks visit either the BBC or Mcclatchy, (one of the last investigative news organization in the US)

Business stuff:

8. If you need a document converted to an Adobe file but don’t own Acrobat, try this free service.

9. If you are still worried about security on Internet Explorer, use Firefox. It handles most web content more effectively and is more secure from the moment you install it. FREE

10. If you need stock photos for any reason, look at the galleries at Istock Photos. If you budget is larger, try Getty Images or you can download and use many high quality photos for FREE at stock.xchng.

11. If you need a program to upload information to an ftp site and you have a Windows computer, use ws_ftp. If you have a MAC, use Fetch.

12. If you need a good html editor that highlights tags and shows you unmatched tags and you have a Windows computer, try Coffee Cup. It is FREE. If you have a MAC try BBEdit They are the best even though they charge for it now.

13. If you don’t own a true photo editing color, you may need a way to identify the code for colors you want to use on your website. This color converter tool should help.

14. If you have video files created in a format that is not web friendly, convert them by using the inexpensive Ojosoft converter.

15. If you have a high speed Internet connection and want to reduce your phone bill, consider a voice over IP option (VOIP). Many international calls are now made with Skype, which is free. There are several companies that provide good support for their programs in the US. Have a look at Vonage and Ooma as examples.

16. If you are having problems communicating with a developer or another business partner, try sharing the information on your computer with them dynamically by using GoToMeeting. There is usually a 15 day trial for the service and if you need to collaborate on technical data including spreadsheets and presentations, this is a must have.

17. If you are wondering how your website performs on other browsers, test it at Browsershots.

And if you have other good sources, please share them.

Social Networking from Anywhere!

Social networking has become so wildly popular that many users want to be able to access their news feeds and update their status anywhere, anytime! If you’re ready to have access to your favorite sites from your mobile phone, here are some quick-start tips.

Facebook
The Mobile application for Facebook has recently been updated, and is much easier to use than it was before. To use Facebook on your mobile phone, go to m.facebook.com. Once you set it up, this application will allow you to update your status, share photos, browse your News Feed and keep in contact with all your friends on Facebook wherever you are.
Facebook even has its own blog about the effectiveness of Facebook Mobile.  

Twitter
Twitter has a lot of options for its mobile applications. Choosing the one that’s right for you is mostly based on the phone that you have, but also the way you would prefer it to look. Here is a great breakdown of what is available and how they each work, including screenshots so you can see what they look like.

Myspace
Accessing Myspace from your phone is easy! Log into m.myspace.com from your mobile phone web browser to get started. Installing the software on your phone will allow you to Send and receive messages and comments, Update mood and status, Browse photo albums, Check out profiles, Add new friends, Read and post blogs and more. MySpace Mobile features include text alerts, photo uploads and video. Carriers include: Alltel, AT&T, Boost Mobile, Cellular One/Dobson, Helio, Sprint, T-Mobile, U.S. Cellular, Virgin Mobile and Verizon Wireless.
Easy tip: * Update your status by texting it to MYSPC (69772) and your status is instantly updated on MySpace!

Say it in a heartbeat

One of the most evasive things to understand is what makes a good web design. If you have not created a website before, it seems easy. After all, you know what you like and you know all the details of your business.

A website begins with the homepage and the home page needs to bring a compelling marketing message in most cases. It should answer why should someone do business with you now or in the future? If a visitor can’t find this reason in the first 15 seconds, they are gone. So an effective home page should “say it in a heartbeat.”

To do this, a home page needs to have the right mix of images, white space and a few key words or ideas. Images that capture your competitive benefit remind your existing customers why they continue to use your company. They also immediately communicate what your potential customers will get…”a picture is worth a thousand words.”

If visitors are interested, they will look further. A good site will be organized according to how your customers think i.e. by the problems you solve for them. To a customer, it is not really about what you do but about what they get. The ability to organize content or information architecture is not a skill that every web developer has. As you look for a developer, find one that has this skill and you will be miles ahead when your website is completed.

There are an infinite amount of style considerations that help you communicate your marketing message. Many of these will be discussed in our upcoming e-book about building sites Joomla. Stay tuned for updates.

How Many People are Really Using Social Networking?

For those who have not yet taken the plunge into the social networking domain, it may seem unreal how many people are actually interacting in the multitude of virtual networks. In the past few months several articles have been released that state specific statistics as to just how large the social media domain has grow:

If you have a business that relies on word-of-mouth networking, social media is a something you should consider. If you're unsure of how to get started, there are many blogs to provide information. Just search for "getting started with social media" in Google.

Landau Design also offers introduction to social media online classes where we take you through each of the most popular networks so you can decide what will be most effective for your business.

You might also want to check out The Social Media Diet, which gives an effective approach with limited time investment.

How Do I Create My First Website?

A Web site has become an integral part of doing business. If you do not have one, you should. If yours is not effective, you need to change it. Here is a basic decision making process we suggest to assist you in planning a Web project.

1. Identify your customer profile(s).

  • Who will be using your site?
  • How often would they look online for new information related to your product or service?
  • Does they rely on the web, print or both for information?
  • If you have more than one customer profile or segment, do they differ in web usage?

2. Define how a Web site will effect your business.
  • What is the multiplier effect of the web for your business?
  • Is it a long term strategy or does it have immediate implications?
  • Will it save time and resources within the company?

3. Research other Web sites for companies similar to your own.
Also research latest trends in new Web sites. Determine what options might be a good fit for your company.

4. Create an online Web strategy.
Your strategy will look different for each objective, for example:
  • Become a destination online merchant.
  • Create a virtual community to encourage collaboration and repeat sales.
  • Providing a portal for information to support your customer base.
  • Enhance references to your site to boost search engine performance.
  • Become an online expert and enhance professional standing.

5. Decide how your web presence relates to the rest of your marketing materials.

  • How do you create a cohesive, branded image?
  • Are the same terms, sales concepts and customer service applied all around?
  • How could you re-use your print copy for the Web?

6. What content should you have?

Determine what type of new content you need to implement your web strategy. Include in this assessment information from the stakeholders, subject matter experts and others that will affect the project timeline. Look at competitor sites and even ask your customers what they would like to see.

7. Create a budget that reflects what you can do now.
Be realistic in what you can afford, and then figure out what is most important to build. A budget is an integral part of web development. Without it you may build more than you can handle, and you may find you build more than you need.

8. Create your website team
Determine who in the company fulfills the roles to manage and update your site. Assign resources if your strategy involves activities that will need updating e.g. blogs, calendars, newsletter.

9. Write an RFP and Get Bids
Plan your implementation by evaluating which vendors and partners will meet your strategic and financial needs. Writing an RFP equals the bidding field so you know how each vendor would approach the same project. Review the resumes and portfolios of the web development company and ask pointed questions to determine if you want to hire them to build your site. Knowledge is power even more so in the Internet world. Put your business assumptions in your agreements so you have leverage if needed.

If you initially thought that you could never relate to the Internet, it should be reassuring that the steps above could be used in planning any marketing activity. For more ideas about how to manage your project, contact us at Landau Design.

10 LinkedIn Tips to Grow Your Business


1. List every important detail
Include your complete work history. You will likely remember colleagues and classmates you may have forgotten. Those contacts will be able to search for you based on what is in your profile and most social networking sites will suggest people that share these groups or interests.

2. Add updates regularly
By adding connections and editing your profile, you are more likely to be at the top of the list when somebody searches for a company like yours. Each time you edit your profile, the information will be circulated to your network, which regularly puts your name in front of your contacts.

3. Let people know what you’re doing
Use the status field to put in updates. This information is usually sent in emails to others that are connected, share an affinity group or are following specific people.

4. Join Groups
Joining professional groups within LinkedIn gives you opportunities to provide input and gain exposure. Whether it’s your own industry, or one your business serves, professional groups are an excellent way to generate new contacts through the online Q&A section.
5. Become known as an expert
By posting answers in the questions online, you can share with others what you know. If you have good answers, it will create an interest in knowing more about your services.

6. Get recommended by peers and clients
Recommendations are always an excellent source of credibility and your recommendations are always there for anyone to see.

7. Research new opportunities
If you keep abreast of your affinity groups or browse the profiles of competitors, you will likely find new ideas. This can be done by searches online, but the content is distilled better in social networks.

8. Find the leads you seek
If you know of specific business that fits your target market, you can learn a great deal about them in social networks. In addition to knowing the background of the key people, you might be able to find shared connections or shared affinity groups e.g. alma maters. This can make your first contact much smoother.

9. Improve your search engine rankings
If your public profile is set to “full view,” Google will index your profile and your Linked In page will draw more traffic. If you use Linked In to showcase your talents well, your website will gain traffic. You can increase traffic to all sites by cross-linking from social network sites, your own blog and posts you make to other blogs.

10. See what others see
Google yourself and see what shows up. If your online strategy is working, you should see more links and more relevant information show up first. If your own website is not at the top of the list, consider some new strategies for enhancing the virtual you.

Joomla Branded the Most Popular CMS

At Landau Design we find Joomla to be an easy and effective tool for creating and maintaining websites. We've been using it for years, but recent surveys have shown that its popularity has gained increasing market share. Joomla, Wordpress and Drupal are considered the "big 3" applications used to build websites. While Joomla and Drupal are true CMS (content management system) platforms, Wordpress is actually a blogging platform that is evolving to something like a CMS.

Don't take our word for it...
Recently many CMS-watch entities have been releasing reports and surveys on the platforms used for creation of CMS-managed websites. CMS Wire put out a 20-page report that shows Joomla is the most popular CMS on the market.

In June 2009 saw the 10 millionth download of Joomla from Joomla.org, and it is estimated over 50 million sites worldwide are built using the platform.

And in 2007, 2008 and 2009 Joomla won awards from Packt Publishing's CMS Awards. The 2009 CMS Awards is in progress, and Joomla is once again in the running for another trophy.

The great news about being popular
With all the hype about Joomla's popularity, it bolsters the community and brings in new users. That means that Joomla isn't going away, and with a thriving development community, it's only going to get better. Joomla 1.6 beta has been released, so in 2010 we can look forward to an even easier and more effective Joomla platform.

Should My Business Have A Presence On Facebook?

Facebook is a social networking giant.
In recent years, Facebook has become a major force in the social networking world. People of all ages are utilizing the site and its features to keep in touch with friends and family, share photos online, and search for long lost classmates or coworkers. While Facebook is clearly a convenient way to keep up with personal contacts, can a business benefit from this powerhouse as well?
Most experts say yes. Having a presence online via a website isn’t enough anymore. We now know it is just as important to promote your site and be diligent in Search Engine Optimization (SEO), allowing your site to easily show up in the search engines. Not only that, but Facebook has over 125 million users worldwide. Utilizing the site’s visibility
is certainly an advantage any business can benefit from.

Deciding if Facebook Is Right For Your Business.
One of the best ways to figure out is Facebook is the right choice is to follow the blog of Mari Smith, the guru of Facebook for Business. She wrote 10 Reasons to Use Facebook for Business, which provides some compelling reasons for adding Facebook to your company’s social media plan.

How Can I Create An Effective Business Page?
Once you’ve created a page for your business on Facebook, there are ways to optimize your visibility so that your page gets traffic. Just having a page on Facebook is the first step, but making sure your page is accessible and populated with content is also important. Here are some helpful tips in getting your business page going, and making it effective.

Creating a business page on Facebook ensures that the millions of Facebook users have access to your business in a relevant and convenient way. Exposure of that kind could prove to be an invaluable tool for you and your business!

Is Your Company in Google Business Directory?

One of the easiest ways to help you get on page 1 of Google is to get your company listed in the Google Business Directory. When people are searching for services in a specific city, the Google Business Directory will make suggestions right at the top of page 1.

For Landau Design we found listing our company in the directory brought us to the top of page 1 when people searched for design services in our area (type in joomla design "los angeles" and see where we come up). This happened almost overnight, and we saw the increase in our website traffic and potential client phone calls.

Create your listing

To create a Google Business Directory listing you need to create a Google account. The person who creates the directory listing owns the edit rights, so the company owner should make sure it is attached to his/her profile. When filling in the listing use as much detail as possible, especially in the categories section. Make sure your company description includes the most important keywords for your company. In the categories section put keywords and keyword phrases that clients use to find you.

Follow your reports
After you've created your listing you can come back and visit it by going to the Local Business Center link in your Google account panel. From here you can see reports that tell you how often your site came up in searches, whether people clicked on your links and what keywords they used to find you. Use this information to refine your company profile and assist in helping clients find you.

Should You Sell Advertising Space on Your Blog?

Advertising on your blog is a popular way to make some extra dollars. But how does one approach the concept of advertising? The following steps will help you determine what to charge and how to implement your advertising venture:

1) Determine if you should have advertising on your blog.
You need to consider if advertising is right for your blog. Will your readers be okay with it? Do you have space for it? Would people even pay for it? If your blog is new, it may not be something that you could sell, and instead you might want to use Google AdSense, which means you only get paid when people click on the ads. If you aren't at a place where you could sell ads, consider trading ads with another blog that is complimentary to your own.

2) Determine the value of an ad on your blog.
To determine the value of an ad you have to attempt to quantify the value of your blog. This means you have to come up with a cost per click or cost per impression value based on who visits your blog, how often they visit and how long they stay there. It's a somewhat ambiguous process to figure this out, but ProBlogger expert Daniel Scocco has written an excellent tutorial to help you determine how much to charge for advertising on your blog. If you're still stumped, you might try running through the My Blog Value calculator. While the creators claim it's just for fun, it does help give you an idea of where to begin.

2) Decide if you want to use a service to manage the advertising.
You can manually accept and place ads on your blogs and keep an Excel file to track expiration dates and due dates for payment. But there are companies that will manage the placement and payment for you. Of course they take a percentage, but they will also promote your blog in their directories so you might find other advertisers you may not have otherwise connected with. I have not used one of these services, but these are ones I have seen on popular blogs:

Determining whether to have a cost-per-click (CPC) versus pay-per-impression (CPM) or affiliate ads may determine which service you choose. Robert Bravery explains the difference between CPC & CPM in an article on his blog. Affiliate advertising means you get a commission if somebody clicks the ad and makes a purchase on the advertisers' site.

4) Decide where the place the ads
Decide how much space on your blog you are willing to give up to advertising. Advertisers will not be happy if the ads are pushed way down, so usually somewhere near the top, in the sidebar, is optimum positioning. If you are going to push ads below the fold, you might consider charging a reduced rate for this less-than-premium placement.

Hopefully this will help you decide whether to have ads and how much to charge from them. Making money from blog advertising is a common and easy way to generate revenue for something you are already doing. It's worth serious consideration as a means of generating some passive income.

Find Excellent Blogs to Pull into Your Site

Many of our clients are eager to create a site that updates itself. Pulling an RSS feed into your site is one such feature, and pulling in feeds of pertinent blogs is an excellent way to update your site without doing any work. Once the feed is set up, the list of blog posts updates itself!

How do you find blogs to include?


Use Blog Directories to find pertinent blogs
The easiest way to find blogs to include is using blog directories. These are kind of like giant phone books of blogs that allow you to search by subject to find blogs you are interested in. You can then visit the blogs and decide if they are worth pulling into your site. Some of these blog directories also host blogs (like Blogger), but most do not. here are some of my favorites:


Use Google to find pertinent blogs
Search in Google by typing in "subject matter"+"blog" and you will find many blogs on your pertinent subject. Make sure to do several searches using different keywords since the blog could be indexed many ways.

Use your social media to find blogs
Many people in the industry have gotten into the habits of reading daily blogs. Use your social networking tools to seek out others who are interested in the same subject and ask them which blogs they like to read. use LinkedIn groups to pose the question, or send some tweets out on Twitter or ask your friends on Facebook.

Use Twitter subject search to find blog links
Using the subject search in the right hand column will search the content of people's tweets. Many people use the hash tag to tag their tweets along certain subject line. This will not only lead to some interesting links, but you will probably find some great people to follow who will continue to post links to useful blogs.

What are the Advantages of Using Joomla?


Since we build most of our sites in Joomla, we are often asked what the advantages are to a Joomla-driven site. Here are the reasons we feel Joomla is the optimum solution for our clients:

Sites are built faster
We actually tried an experiment where we built a site in Joomla and then built the same site in HTML. It was a 28-page site with an image gallery, guestbook and static content. The HTML site took nearly twice as long to build as the Joomla site. Joomla is quicker and easier to implement than a traditional HTML site.

Client can update quickly and easily

With traditional HTML sites the owner of the site either has to know HTML or Dreamweaver (or similar editor) in order to update their content. Often with HTML sites there is an update cycle where the owner contacts the developer to request changes, then they have to wait for the developer to fit it into their production schedule. With Joomla, most of the content can be updated by somebody familiar with a program like Microsoft Word. This makes for quicker and easier updating of content.

Advanced functionality without development costs

There are over 4,500 plug-ins for Joomla that add additional functionality to the core program. Many of these plug-ins include complext functionality that would cost thousands of dollars to develop for an HTML site. For example, for an online calendar we use JEvents. We can install the calendar, set up categories, input a few events and set up an upcoming events sidebar in about an hour. To have this integrated into an HTML site would probably require 6-8 hours of a developers time. Joomla saves time and money!

Popular platform
Joomla is quickly becoming the most popular CMS available. Developers and designers are learning more and about how to utilize the platform, and companies are proud to share that their site was built with this open-source CMS. It's become easy to find developers to help you add-on to your Joomla site, and the popularity means more and more extensions are being developed to increase possible functionality. The best thing is, Joomla is not a fad. It has a long history and continues to evolve as the support community around it continues to grow.

What do you think are the advantages of Joomla?
Share with us in the comment section about why you think Joomla is a great choice for web development.

Be a Real Person on Twitter

I recently read an excellent article on what Follow Friday is truly about on Twitter. It got me thinking about the domain of Twitter and how different people come across with different personas. As somebody who likes to engage people in areas of interest, I want to really connect with people on Twitter. In the several months I've been using it, I have found it an invaluable information resource. I also want to use it as a promotional tool, but it seems to me the most effect method for promoting is through personally connecting with the people who follow you.

How can you be a REAL person on twitter?

1) Tweet with sincerity. There are people on twitter who tweet their every step in the day. While it may not be interesting, they are tweeting with honesty. There are others who only seem to tweet self-promotional dribble, but you don't really know who they are because they don't tweet much about themselves. Share some of yourself on Twitter so people know who the person is behind the username.

2) Engage people in conversation. If somebody tweets an area of interest to you, tweet them back. If somebody tweets an issue they're having, respond with a note of encouragement. These are the conversations that grow into trusted tweet buddies. These are the people who will get to know you, and when you're ready to promote, they will promote you. Just like in real business, the relationships create the network.

3) Don't send canned tweets. I've noticed people have a set of tweets that they send every few days. Where's the innovation in that? They are clearly tweeting for the purpose of promoting, but when using the same promotion over and over, it's clear there's no sincerity. It's not hard to come up with a 140-character sentence. If you want to promote the same link, introduce it in a different way.

4) Find people who share your interests. If you use the subject search box, you can find people who are tweeting on subjects of interest to you. Follow them, they will likely follow you. Then you will have something to talk about that you like reading and responding to.

5) Support your friends. Twitter is about sharing and supporting each other. The way support is shown is by:

  • retweeting their posts
  • sending out Follow Friday tweets
  • mentioning their blog, website in a tweet
  • engaging in Twitter conversations so people can get to know them

If you're only tweeting yourself or sharing information, you're missing out by not engaging in the exchange of Twitter conversation.

6) Remember the purpose. Twitter is about making connections. It's an excellent way to network, gain new information and find similar people to converse with. It's not about "whoever dies with the most followers wins". That just gets you a bunch of followers and not a true promotional outlet.

Here are some of my favorite REAL people on Twitter:
This post was inspired by tweets by @cwalkman and Twitter - Rules for Follow Friday by @JosephRanseth, an excellent article talking about how a sincere idea on Twitter turned into a tit for tat circus, and how we can bring it back to its roots.

Landau Design Launches CAPDsupport.org

While we love building websites for money, every so often a time arises when a site must be built from a desire to give back to the community. Landau Design has just launched CAPD Support.

It's a Joomla-driven website for individuals and families effected by Central Auditory Processing Disorder (CAPD). The site contains information about CAPD, a library with links to online articles, a resource directory for therapists, audiologists and online information as well as a message board.

The site is meant to support parents trying to determine if their child has CAPD, or help find solutions if their child has already been diagnosed. It is also a place for adults with CAPD can come share their experience, get support and find solutions to everyday challenges.

Putting Web Ancronyms into Layman's Terms

Creating a website is a big project, and it can feel really daunting if you don't really understand what the developer is talking about. The following acronyms are commonly used when developing a project. Hopefully this information will help you understand what your developer discusses with you.

HTTP (Hyper Text Transfer Protocol)
This is the method that your web browser uses to talk to a web server. When you type a URL into your web browser, it sends a message to a web server in order to retrieve the elements for the site you want to view. The message to the server and the information sent back to your web browser are relayed using HTTP.

HTTPS (Hyper Text Transfer Protocol over Secure Socket Layer)
HTTPS is a secure method your web browser uses to talk to a web server. When you arrive at a page where the URL begins with HTTPS, it means the information from your web browser that is being sent to the web server is encrypted before it is sent. In this way the information is secure. Any time you make an online purchase, before entering your credit card information look at the URL to make sure it has the HTTPS.

URL (Uniform Resource Locator)
This is the address for a website (i.e. resource) on the Internet. It tells your web browser how to find the information you are seeking from a specific set of files on a specific server. For example, www.LandauDesign.com is the URL for Landau Design.

IP Address (Internet Protocol Address)
Every server connected to the internet has an IP address assigned to it. It's usually broken up into 4 segments separated by periods (22.101.112.01). It's like the servers' phone number which the entire Internet calls up every time they are trying to reach that server.

DNS (Domain Name Server)
Layman's definition: When you type in a URL, what happens in your web browser is a message is sent to a domain name server. When the message arrives at the server, it says to the server "Here is the URL I am looking for. Please give me the IP address of the server it is on." The domain name server is like a giant phone book that cross references URLs with the IP addresses of the servers they live on.

HTML (Hypertext Markup Language)
This is the original language of the Internet. It is not a true programming language in the sense that it does not include logic statements (i.e. if this happens, then do that). Instead it is a language that literally tells the web browser how to display the contents of a page. So things like paragraph breaks, bolding a headline, colors, images, etc. are specified in a HTML file so the browser knows how to arrange the contents of a page. Not all browsers read HTML the same, which is why sites do not always look the same across different browser types.

CSS (Cascading Style Sheets)
CSS is a way to deliver information about layout and appearance that is more specific than regular HTML. For example, with CSS you can specify that your menu bar be 20 pixels from the top of the browser window. In this way you can accurately compile your website layout based on specific parameters without having to rely on the web browsers interpretation of HTML.

CMS (Content Management System)
A CMS is a program used for creating and managing website content. A CMS utilizes a database to store the site's content, and it provides built-in functionality for displaying that information. Generally a CMS allows the site owner to update their site using a WYSIWYG editor. It also allows for integration of more complex functionality since most CMS's on the market have plugins that can be integrated without custom development. At Landau Design we build sites using Joomla, which is one of the most popular CMS's available.

FTP (File Transfer Protocol)
This is the method used to transfer files on and off a server. Putting files on a server is like copying files from a CD onto your computer's hard drive. When files are transferred onto a server, as they are transferred the software used needs to know what type of file it is because different types (i.e. text vs. image) require different types of coding when uploaded. The coding for different file types is handled by the FTP program you use.

RFP (Request For Proposal)
The document the client puts together to define the project and assist the developer in compiling an estimate. Read Save Time By Writing an RFP for an outline of how to create this document.

WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get)
This is what they call a content editor that displays your site's content in the same manner it would appear on your web page. WYSIWYG got their name because before WYSIWYG, editing of sites was only done by looking at the code. So the person working on the code had to load the page into a web browser in order to see what it looked like. Dreamweaver is an example of a WYSIWYG editor.

Design Your Navigation From The Outside In

One of the biggest mistakes companies make when designing a website is labeling and organizing the information with the terms the internal company uses. It is very important when organizing your content to look at it from the user's perspective, not the company's.

How Do I Organize From the User's Perspective?

1) Who are your visitors?
The first thing you do when creating your website is ask yourself who is coming to this site and why are they coming. What are their ages, computer experience, knowledge? What need do they have that you are going to fulfill? This gives you a picture of the user-types who will be accessing the information. Any time during the following process if you are unsure of how to organize your information, go back to this first question to get the answer.

2) How do we currently interact with these users?
What questions do they ask us to elicit information, and what information do we give in response? This is the beginning of understanding the labels your customers use in relation to your business. The receptionist in a company is often the best person to answer this question.

3) How do our users see our organization?
Now looking at the information that your users are seeking, consider how this information would be logically organized. Consciously put aside the method your company uses to organize this information. This is generally the most challenging part of the process since you are used to looking at your information in a particular way, and you must move back and take another perspective.

For example, if you were a physical therapist, you might not organize your information with the therapies you provide. Instead you may organize it by the physical challenges the users face, and within those pages talk about the therapies that apply to those challenges. In this way you've related the information to your users rather than how you related to the types of therapies.

4) Create an outline of how users would see the information organized.
Consider the categories and subcategories of information. Do not forget to include site basics such as how to contact your organization and brief description of your company's purpose (even if you feel your clients know this already).

5) Label your categories.
This part is often tricky as different people within the company will have different opinions about which labels to use. Cutesy labels are definitely poor usability and should be avoided. Labels should describe the information that page contains, or at the very least be a branded term that your clients know the meaning of. Labels should always be the same part of a sentence (noun, adjective, verb) or similar phrase structures. Consistency in labeling makes your site predictable.

6) Ask some users for feedback.
Share what you have organized with typical users from your client base. Ask them for feedback. Be open to their responses, and allow them to assist you in creating a logical and easy-to-use organization of your information.

Why Shouldn't I Build My Site in Flash?

The simple answer to this question is: because the search engines won't index it properly. Flash looks cool, and it's fun, and yeah the menus can bounce around, wave and do some back flips for you, but you really have to ask yourself "does this add to my business message?"

What is Flash?
Flash is a programming language that allows the designer/developer to create really beautiful animations. They can create sites that respond to your movements, and involve some really cool morphs of menus and content. You can see some examples from Landau Design at Ralph White and Lapolla Inc websites. The opening animation of photographs and words are created in Flash.

Why can't the search engines index Flash files?
The code required to build a flash animation is held in an SWF (Shockwave Flash) file format. The search engines cannot see into these files, so they cannot review and record the text information contained within them. Recently Google announced a change in Flash indexing. Unfortunately this change only relates to the auxilliary files that make the Flash file run, they still cannot index the Flash file itself.

Does that mean I should never use Flash?
No, flash files can add some dynamism to your site. You shouldn't build your entire site in flash, but embedding a flash file within your site is fine. You can compensate for the lack of indexing in your title and metatags, as well as any content you add to the page. The animations I shared above are inset into a frame of HTML code. The search engines cannot index the flash animation, but it can index everything around it.

How do I decide when to use Flash?
You need to consider whether the flash animation adds to your business message. So many companies today build all-Flash sites because they look cool. But they're not in the entertainment industry, and while it's fun, a fully animated site does not add to their business message on their site. And the trade-off is that the search engines will not index the content on your site. Only you can decide if the WOW factor adds to your business message, or it's more important to employ SEO tools.

Building on Your Competitor's Links

Recently Google announced a change in Flash indexing. Unfortunately despite this change, there is a long way to go. Link building is by far the most effective way of increasing your ranking with the search engines. How many links you have to your site is sort of a "grade" of how popular your site is. The quality of those links is important, so how do you find out what types of links to get?

The Link Discovery Formula
To find where you should build links, you should look at your competitors. To do this:

  1. Do a keyword search for a company like yours. For example, we just built a site for Play and Learn Family Daycare, so we might put in "daycare torrance".
  2. Look at the results that come up, and choose a business on the first page that is similar to your own. It does not have to be in your city, just a similar type of business. In this case we chose Sound of Music Preschool.
  3. Using the URL for the business you chose, use the following formula and type into Google: "+www.soundomusic.+com" -site:soundomusic.com. Type it exactly the same, with quotes and +/- signs. This formula will show you all the pages that have a link TO this company's website.
  4. This preschool has 108 links to its site.
Building Your Link List
Now start looking through the list of links. Ask yourself the following:
  • Are any of them places where you could get links as well?
  • Do any of them give you ideas of other places you could get links (i.e. They are in the Yahoo business directory and you know Google has one of those too)
  • Are there phrases you could use to search in Google to find more of these types of links?

Go Get Your Links
Now put together a plan for working through your link list, and obtain those links! Dedicate a time each day or each week towards obtaining these links. Also consider using social networking methods for increasing your links organically.

You should run through this process several times with different keyword searches and looking at various companies. This is an excellent project to implement over several months, and you can see very quickly you can obtain high-quality links to help with your search engine rankings.

I Just Launched My Site, Why Isn't It In Google?

The Internet often appears to be a magical mix of invisible interactions, and when you plunge your foot in, don't you believe something amazing and unexpected is suppose to happen? So many of our clients believe just this, and the day they launch their site they wonder why they don't appear in Google and throngs of new customers haven't found them.

Google indexes the Internet about once a month. If you have a popular site, it will index you more often, but generally if you're a new site they won't get to you for a while. You can submit a request for indexing to Google, but this won't guarantee they get to you faster. How soon they index you is determined by the popularity of your site and the quality of your page ranking.

To increase the likelihood of your getting indexed faster, invest your energy in getting links from sites that are indexed daily. These would include:

  • popular social media sites such as LinkedIn or Digg.
  • Adding comments to blogs or other sites is a great way to get links coming into your site. Go to blog aggregators such as Technorati or StumbleUpon and look up the most popular blogs to add comments to. Do not add spam comments, but sincere comments that add value to the blog.
  • Also, submitting your site to lesser-known search engines helps you get indesed into Google faster.
  • Finally, starting your own blog is a great way to generate links into your site. If you start a blog with Blogger, they are owned by Google and indexed daily.

Create a Custom 404 Error Page

It's worthy to note that sites or pages that have been indexed and are taken down will remain in the Google directory for months until Google comes back around to re-index them and finds them down. Nothing can be done about it. You can tell them to take it down, but doesn’t mean they’ll get to it faster. If you remove pages from your site, it behooves you to create a custom 404 error (page not found error) page which will redirect users to a site map so they can find what they were looking for. Without the 404 error page they will get the standard page from your hosting company that won't even have your site logo on it, let alone the navigation.

Please Remember to Register Your Own Domain Name

I've been around the Internet block for nearly 13 years now, and I'm still surprised when I see this trick. A developer is hired to build a new website, and they register the domain name for the customer. They not only register it, they make themselves the registrant. No big deal, right? If you say no, then I need you to read the following.

The registrant on the domain name is the person who legally owns the domain name. If you part ways with your developer who is the registrant of your domain, legally they don't have to give it back to you. They own it. Moving away from them, or moving your site, means you could lose your domain name. Unless of course they are nice, but 50% of the time they are not (in my experience).

PLEASE, if you are building a new site or changing your URL, register the domain yourself, and make yourself the administrative contact as well as the registrant. This puts you in control of your domain name. There are many places to do this inexpensively and easily. GoDaddy is one of my favorites, despite the incessant attempts to sell me more. Once you register the domain you can give the login to the developer so the technical information can be changed to point to your site. But after the developer logs in, change your password. Keep it to yourself.

If you don't know if you are the registrant on your domain, you can look it up in the Internic WhoIs database.

If you have any questions about this, feel free to contact me. One of my pet peeves is developers who hold people's sites and domains hostage. I'd be happy to assist you, free of charge, in regaining control of what is rightfully yours.

Why Have a Privacy Policy and Terms of Use?

The Web has truly become an interactive, on-going, world-wide conversation. No matter where you go online, all kinds of information is sent your way. And within the context of that information there are opportunities for you to provide input. Whether it is comments on a blog, suggestions through a contact form or simply taking a poll, you are part of the creation of online content.

It is very rare these days to have a site that is purely information. Most sites have some way of taking in information, and in some cases that information is used within the site content. It is therefore very important to include a privacy policy and terms of use in any site you create. These two pages provide you the opportunity to make your users aware of what their responsibilities are, and what your promises are.

What is a Privacy Policy?
A privacy policy talks about how information taken into a site is used by the company who owns the site. The most basic portion of a privacy policy talks about what the company does with email addresses that are submitted through comments or contact forms. If there is any means of gathering information on your site, you need to alert your users how that information might be used.

You can generate a free privacy policy template which will give you the basics for a good privacy policy. You can then edit the policy to suit your company's procedures.

What are Terms of Use?
Terms of use talk about the user's responsibility in using your website. It talks about copyright, linking, security, intellectual property rights, tone of comments and acceptance of the terms. The terms of use are most critical if you have a site that has user-generated content (i.e. commenting, wiki or message board). The privacy policy can be included in the terms of use if you would rather not have two separate pages, but it is advisable to keep them separate as this makes it easier for users to find your privacy policy.

You can create your own terms of use by using the free template at Clickdocs. You can download it in Word format and edit it as needed before posting it to your website.

Should You Use Twitter to Promote Your Business?

My clients often ask me the benefits of Twitter. My answer usually frames around "it depends on how much time you want to invest." Twitter is a casual conversation tool that engages our sense of ambient awareness. It's like the things you say to the people you meet in the elevator every day on the way to work. The more you chat, the more you will engage the people. Over time you can develop relationships with people, but what sort of relationship might you have at 140 characters a comment?

So much has been written on this subject it's really impossible to come up with something new. So instead I have compiled a group of articles that speak to this subject. There is no right answer when it comes to Twitter. Those who love it have found a way to make it work for them, and those who don't may not care or don't know how to make it work for them. Perhaps the following will assist in figuring out how Twitter can help you.

How To Get Started With Twitter:


Tips on Making the Most of Twitter for Business:

How Other Businesses Use Twitter:

Aren't Pre-Designed Templates Ugly?

Clients come to me for graphic design services because they need to market their business. Some clients want a customized design that is totally unique and created just for them. But other clients may crinkle their noses at the custom design fees that are part of their web quote.

Design snobs won't design for these clients because everything must a unique design or else it's not "quality" design. I love to design, but it's more important that my clients get what they need, not what I want to give them. So if budget is a big factor in their project, I offer them the option of a modified template.

But then clients ask me, "Aren't templates ugly?" I want to debunk this myth! While it's true that the majority of templates designed would not be considered very attractive, the truth is there are designers out there who are putting out beautiful templates for HTML and CMS websites. With a modicum of modifications, these templates can give the impression of custom design without a price tag. Here are some examples from our own projects:

This is the template: i-Lunar
This is the site we’ve built with it: Possibilities Unlimited

This is the template: JSN Epic
This is the site we’ve built with it: Sheasby, Cho & Middleton, attorneys at law

This is the template: JC-Perth
This is what we built with it: The April Center for Anxiety Attack Management

While it's fun to do a custom design and see it get built and shared, many of our clients who do not have unlimited web budgets. It's critical for them to have a web presence that is usable, attractive and effective. We want our clients to have the tools they need to succeed in business, and sometimes template design offers a workaround that facilitates a successful, attractive site within the budget the client can afford.

Why I Always Tell Clients to Add a Resource Page

Often when discussing initial information architecture with clients, I bring up the subject of a resource page. Sometimes it's followed by a scrunched brow from the client. I can hear them thinking, "But that's more work in research time..." Yes it is, but the purpose is to provide a resource for your clientele.

I recently read an article in SmallBizTrends.com about how small businesses can utilize the web to provide customer service that goes a long way in growing your company. Providing information in one location that clients can use over and over is an ideal way to get them to bookmark your site and come back for repeat visits. Even if they aren't using your services now, each visit reminds them that you are there to help.

A resource page does not have to be complicated. It can include:

  • Links to industry websites organized by topics
  • RSS feeds from newsworthy sites that are related to your industry
  • Document library with pertinent forms downloadable in PDF format
  • Links to regulating agencies or associations in your industry
  • Links to useful articles
  • A community forum where people can post questions and get answers from colleagues
  • An FAQ library where you answer questions about your company and industry

A resource page creates a connection between you and your clients
that can easily be grown by asking your users for suggestions and input. It's a small time investment compared to the positive impact it has on your service image.

Why Does a Website Cost So Much?

Early on in 1996, when I learned how to build websites, I realized an interesting phenomena with the web -- people were reluctant to pay to have a website built. My theory was that it was really hard for them to pay for something they could not touch and feel in their hands. In their minds, it was air, and how expensive could that be? I recently read an article about hidden costs on website development. I believe many clients are not aware of the time involved in the creation of a website.

We work with mostly small to medium-sized businesses, and at least 1/3 of our companies are sole proprietors with only 1-2 employees. Their budget for a website is usually "we just want to spend a few hundred dollars." They often gasp when they see the simple little website they want is in the few thousand dollar arena. Why would this be so? They only have 15 or so pages. How could it possibly cost so much? Here's a list of the steps required to build such a simple site:

Steps involved in building a website in Joomla:

  1. Create information architecture and develop quote for client: 1-2 hours
  2. Select a couple templates for the client to choose from (selecting a template saves $1500-$2000 in design fees): 1.5 hour
  3. Purchase selected template: $25-$45
  4. Customize the template with client's logo, color scheme and possible modify module positions to work with content: 3-4 hours
  5. Gather content from existing site and create content outline for client in Word: 1 hour
  6. Set up hosting, Install Joomla, create section/category, menu and article structure: 3 hours
  7. Input client's content (all static content): 3-4 hours
  8. Optimize graphic layout of content to it abides by usability standards: 2 hours
  9. Search for stock photos for the site: 1-2 hours
  10. Pay for stock photos: $25-$50
  11. Size and optimize 15-20 photos for the site: 2 hours
  12. Input images and edits to content: 1-2 hours
  13. Create online contact form: 1 hour
  14. Install and configure FAQ component with 20 questions: 1.5 hours
  15. Test and optimize template for popular browsers: 2 hours
  16. Apply SEO to page titles, links, content: 2-3 hours
  17. 1 year hosting at Rochen: $95
  18. Talking to the client and calling/emailing asking for content or clarifying issues: 3-4 hours
Total hours: 28-33 hours
Out of pocket expenses: $145-$190


And what about nifty extras?
This time estimate is for a site that is basically text with very little extended functionality. We often add the following to our client's sites, which can vary in time required depending on the complexity of the pieces:
  • Google Analytics
  • Backup System
  • Search Engine Submission
  • Keyword analysis and SEO implementation
  • Blog setup and integration with the site
  • Photo Gallery
  • Flash slide show on home page
  • Event Calendar
  • Newsflash module for marketing taglines on home page or customer testimonials
  • Modification of custom components to match site
  • Purchase of commercial components to optimize performance
  • Etc...
So you can see how quickly the hours add up, and that's if the project goes perfectly without delays or technical glitches, which isn't always the case.

The time has come where a website is an essential part of doing business. It is a critical expense to include in your budget, and because of its importance, its creation should be carefully considered. It's okay to have a budget, but talk to your designer and understand what you're really getting for your money. Sometimes that $500 saved means you're getting a less-than-optimum product.

More information:

Understanding What Goes Into Optimal SEO

People who have websites want to come up at the top of the search results in Google. It's just part of owning a website. Sort of like wanting your kid to be the start on the softball team or in a spelling bee. It's natural to want to be number one. But often when I speak to clients about SEO (search engine optimization) their eyes glass over and ultimately ask, "But what will it cost for you to do it for me?"

This is the million dollar question with regards to SEO. Why? Because you can do a lot of things to optimize your site for the search engines, but it may not have a definite correlation with your ranking. So it might take 100 hours worth of effort for one site, or 500 worth of effort for another, and continuous effort on another.

We have a new client right now who is in the daycare industry, which is an industry where people generally don't have websites. We're excited because we see getting her to the top of google for daycare searches in her area won't take a lot of effort. But then we have a client in the business coaching industry, where there are millions of sites, all seeking to be number one on Google. That's going to take a bit more effort, and we will be extremely fortunate if we achieve page 1 of Google.

I recently came across Search Engine Optimization, a great article by Court's Internet Marketing School. He talks about all the pieces that go together to create optimum SEO. He does it in a non-technical way so you can understand all the effort and processes that are involved in optimizing for maximum search engine indexing. I would recommend reading it so you can gain an overview of what is involved when optimizing a site.

The most important things you should know about SEO:

How Do I Set Up a Blog?

Setting up a blog can be really easy, if you know where to look for instructions. I have put together some of the best tutorials I have found for the two most popular blogging programs.

Two most popular blogging programs:


How do I set up the blog itself?


Where do I find free templates?


How do I install a template on my blog?


Now What?

After you've installed everything it's time to start writing and publicizing your blog. I would recommend subscribing to pro-blogger blogs to gain tips and learn how to manage and grow your blog:

Why Do Corporations Want Their Execs to Use Social Networking?

Online networking is getting press because there is "bling" associated with it. But why are many corporations asking their execs to create profiles and contribute this way? Here is my top 5 reasons:

  1. Enhanced education: Most large corporations value enhanced education of their key players and pay big bucks for it. Online networking allows anyone to identify experts and opinion leaders in their fields. For execs that is a two way street. They can collaborate on technical or operational issues or management practices for free. This can replace paying for seminars, coaching, consultants, trade shows, and higher education degrees to some extent. Did I mention it is free?

  2. Extend your networking opportunities: Networking is recognized as a valuable method of developing sales and partnership opportunities. "Social" networking online provides an entree into many more people in a different way.

  3. Demonstrate corporate expertise: If a company has several people recognized as leaders in their field, the company will invariably gain prestige and clientele by having their expertise publicized. As an example, LinkedIn allows members to respond to each others inquiries in groups or by publishing the executives speaking engagements, corporate executives create the appearance of expertise in a viral way. Other techniques to do this include promoting other company web-based initiatives and non- web based efforts within the social network.

  4. Stay to-the-minute current: Social networking is also a great way to get real time information and real time dialogue on issues that their decision-makers need. This is a different source (perhaps more reliable source) of information compared to customer surveys because people may be more candid online.

  5. Network when it's convenient: And all of this is available when an executive or his/her assistant has the time to do it. It also has the strength of the network tools. Instead of having to remember to ask for networking opportunities with every social contact, online networking is done when a person has the mindspace to focus on it. It provides a way to "drill down" into other people's contacts with less effort. And it provides a record of the network for future use without having to record all the information again. Corporations thrive on information and online networking is huge that way.

More information:

What is Information Architecture?

When talking to clients I will often mention working on their information architecture. Their face kind of scrunches up and I know they're thinking, "She is talking about website construction, not building construction, right?" Information architecture (also called IA) is how the information on your site is categorized and organized. I find the best way to explain IA is by example:

You come to a website and sit staring at the page wondering what link you must click to find the information you seek. You might even click one, find it wasn't accurate, and try another link. This site has very poor information architecture because the information cannot be accessed intuitively.

Conversely, you come to another site, click away and within seconds find what you were looking for. You didn't give much thought to your navigation journey as it was a cinch to follow the trail of links right to the answer. This site has very good information architecture since it was so intuitive you didn't even think about it.

An effective information architect will always strive for the second scenario, but also accept that there is no perfection when it comes to information architecture. A site is a fluid entity which is always changing, which means the information architecture needs to be revisited on a regular basis. At least once a year a site review for IA revisions should be formally completed to make certain your site retains the best possible organization for user navigation.

So how do you know when you get it right? A formal usability study is really the best way to make certain you've created a successful IA for your site. But if a formal study isn't in the cards, do an informal study by asking some regular users if they will surf your site and provide feedback to specific questions. In the end it's the users who will know if the IA is optimum, so it's important to go outside your company to confirm that your IA is a success.

12 Questions to Ask When Hiring a Web Developer

Besides the typical “What is your experience?” and “Can I have some references”, the following questions will assist you in finding a Web development company that will provide service with integrity.

1. Who registers and owns my URL (web site address)?
Whoever owns the URL, controls what server it points to. Many design companies will register the URL in your name, but not give you access to the registrar account. Others will register it in their own name, which means you DON’T own it. Register your own URL before you begin working on the site to avoid this common pitfall.

2. Where is the site hosted?
Whoever hosts your site, controls if it’s live or down. Many development companies insist you host with them, but if you want to change developers, you need to find a different hosting company as well. Make a point of understanding the host/developer relationship so you can make a choice that gives you the most flexibility down the line.

4. What sort of contract do I need to sign?
Many development companies commence business on a handshake. A contract protects you as well as the developer. It lays out the path for the project, and makes each step predicable and understandable. No contract means the developer can change their mind about price, file ownership or even completing the job.

5. How much input do I have in the process of creating my site?
Many developers take your deposit check, and the next time you hear from them your site is built. No questions, no feedback requested; they’ve built your site blindly and without your input. YOU are the business owner. If the developer says you don’t need to be involved, it’s time to look elsewhere.

6. How long does it take to build the site?
Many developers are excited to tell you that they can whip your site out in no time – a week or two tops. But what they neglect to tell you is the most challenging part of building a site is getting the content – and this is up to you! The developer can estimate the build time after they know what they are building, but remember that their build time is also dependent upon your timely delivery of content.

7. How much does it cost to build the site?
This question is like asking how much a car is without knowing the make and model. Expect surprises from a developer who gives you a price without knowing what you want. Also be wary of a developer who gives you a price that is too low. With a clear understanding of what is to be built, the developer can give you a fixed-price bid for construction. A developer should give you a written estimate that specifies the number of pages included as well as any complex functionality that is required.

8. Who owns my finished site?
It is very common for developers to neglect to mention that by law they have ownership of all files related to your site. Unless a work-for-hire statement is incorporated into your contract, they maintain the copyright on the design and assets for your site. They are not obligated to release these files to you. Make certain language is in your contract that states that you have ownership of the work that is done.

9. What technology is used to build the site?
There are many excellent technical solutions for creating sites today, but what is more important in this question is how the developer answers it. Do they explain the technology in a way that it is clear so you understand? Effective communication is critical for accomplishing a Web project. Make certain the developer communicates in a way that you understand.

10. How is the site maintained once it is built?
It’s an easy thing to get involved in the creation of your site and not consider how it is maintained once it is built. It is important to discuss this with the developer as you don’t want to launch your site and then be hit with surprise bills or no means of managing it yourself. You need to find out if software is required to maintain the site, and if the developer offers training for it. Maintenance fees can be as much if not more than build fees, so consider self-management options if budget is a concern. If the design firm insists on being in control of maintenance, get a copy of the fee schedule before signing your contract.

11. Are they using any proprietary software to build the site?
Many development companies create their own software for building Web sites. They license it to customers for use on the site. The main issue with this is if you want to move the site, you can never really own it, even with a work-for-hire. Also, you can never choose to use a different developer, so you are locked into the same company regardless of how the relationship is working out. Avoid proprietary software sites. Make sure it’s built in such a way that you can change your mind and switch companies down the line.

12. Do you have any questions for me?
A developer cannot give you an honest assessment of your project without having an understanding of what is to be built. This question gives the opportunity to see how the developer would approach the project. You can observe the developer’s listening skills as you explain your project, as well as their ability to gain better understanding by asking clarifying questions. It’s important the developer include questions regarding who the site users will be and what the business goals are.

How Does a Search Engine Spider My Site?

The means by which a search engine moves through the web is called spidering the web, also known as web crawling. In other words, it crawls through the world wide web like a real spider crawls over a spider web - one thread at a time. This is an automatic process the search engines continuously engage in.

When a search engine comes to your site, it begins on the page of entry (may not necessarily be the home page -- depends where the spider came from). As it examines your page, if it comes across another link, it will follow that link to where it leads (i.e. follow another thread in the web). That link could be internal to your site, in which case the search engine continues to examine your site. It may also lead outside your site, in which case it has gone elsewhere.

When you request that a search engine index your site, you are asking for the search engine to crawl through your site, examine all pages, or spider your site completely. Be sure to limit your requests to no more than once every 2 months. Over requesting indexing is a surefire way to make the search engines ignore you.

When the search engine spiders your site, it examines your meta tags and content to determine how your site should be indexed in the search engine. Your content is given the greatest weight, but your meta tags are also very important for gaining valuable indexing.

More information:
What Does a Spider See When It Visits Your Site?
Just What Do Spiders Look For?
What is a Webcrawler on Wikipedia