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What is Joomla?

"Joom-what?" you say. Joomla is a an open-source, content management system. Still confused? That's okay, this is a question many clients ask me as I talk about Joomla a lot. Joomla is a swahili word meaning "all together." It is an international software project developed and supported by thousands of people around the world.

Joomla is the main method that Landau Design uses to build websites. It's a content management system, which means the site is managed by a database. The database stores all your contents in its tables, much like a filing cabinet stores information in drawers and folders. Your website does not exist in pages, it exists in the database. A template, or design, is created for your site, and every time a person clicks on a link in your site, the database feeds up the data into the template and presents the page. This is known as dynamic content generation because the content is not presented as a page until somebody interacts with it.

Joomla is open-source software, which means the developers who work on the program donate their time, and the software is given away for free. Why would they do this? Often an open-source project is begun when developers feel they can create a comprable project to commercial software. Once the project gets going, and its a success, the developers involved are often recruited for other work, which is the benefit they get out of volunteering their time. The popular browser Firefox, made by Mozilla, is another example of an open-source project.

Joomla is an excellent resource for creating websites. Not only do the sites go up twice as fast, but there are literally thousands of mini-programs, called extensions, which can be integrated into Joomla without requiring any programming knowledge. The sites are generated using CSS (cascading style sheets), which means almost any design can be converted into Joomla. In addition, our clients who are willing can be easily trained to maintain the site contents. Joomla not only saves money in site development costs, but also gives the client control of their site.

Do People Actually Read Your Website Content?

I recently had a client tell me that his web page looked too messy because there were too many font sizes. I tried to explain to him that people skim on the web, they don’t read, and varying the font sizes helps to highlight critical content. He didn’t really buy it, but grudgingly agreed to leave it as designed.

Research has shown over and over that people don’t read on computers – they skim. Jakob Nielsen, the godfather of usability, recently did a study on About Us pages where he said “Task success for finding out what the company or organization does actually dropped, from 90% to 81%. In place of a frank summary of the business, marketese and blah-blah text ruled the day on many sites." In other words, shorter, more concise verbage proved to provide better usability than the marketing jargon that was too verbose.

Why is this? Some of the research gathered has shown:

  • It takes 25% longer for a person to read on the computer as it takes to read something on paper, so it feels harder.
  • People would prefer to interact with the page rather than stare at it, so they are anxious to click away.
  • People feel like if they don’t move on to the next link, they’ll be missing some other great page to look at, so they’re quick to move on.
  • In an eye tracking study, only 1 in 6 people actually read copy line by line.
  • People are too busy

Research has also shown what is effective in helping people read your content more efficiently:
  • Chunking type into bulleted lists, bolded sentences and differentiated headlines Concise, to-the-point writing
  • Links leading to more information rather than having information all on one page.
  • Put important details first as you generally lose a reader as they near the bottom.

Websites are not print brochures, so they should not follow the same design guidelines. A page that is chunked up into different sizes and colors of type has been done for your benefit. It is following usability standards to help deliver the information in the most common pattern for online reading.

More on the subject:

Creating an Online Brand That Gets Noticed

Sometimes clients are really anxious to get their site up and running. It’s crucial to them that the elements be there, but not so crucial how specific these elements are. The Internet has reached a point that a business without a website lacks a certain legitimacy. Investing energy in developing your online brand is a crucial step towards creating your company persona. Here are some strategies to get you started:

Be patient: The hardest part in this process is the time it takes to create that brand. As Matt Siltala says in Create a Brand From Scratch, most people give up too soon.

Be creative: If you’re selling what somebody else is selling, find a different way to sell it. Create a different angle, use different graphics, avoid the same-old-same-old. Remember to sell what you do, not who you are. What you do makes a difference in the lives of your customers; who you are does not.

Be willing: Take the time, money and resources required to create a definitive web presence. Simply having a website is not enough. Considering the marketing message, the language, the graphics… everything that rolls together to create the image you want to portray. Skimping on your image shows up when your customers browse your site.

Rushing through your project will get you a website, but consider if it’s a website that really represents a unique angle for what you’re selling. While clients often concentrate on each and every word that is written, the fact is the overall image is what makes a greater impression.

Here is some more information on how to develop an online brand:

Press Releases: Great Way to Gain Inbound Links

As I wrote in I Want My Site to Be #1 On Google, inbound links are key to getting higher rankings on Google. I was recently told that an excellent way to obtain inbound links was by sending out a press release online. It makes sense if you send out a release where within the release you link back to your home page or relevant pages within your site. It doesn't have to cost money, either, because there are many free sites that provide press release distribution services. Here are some of the top ones:

I'm sure now you're thinking "nice idea, but what would I put in a press release?" Pretty much anything related to your business that is newsworthy. For example:
  • Landau Design recently launched a new Joomla site for Save-a-Life No-Kill Animal Shelter. We used the latest technology and helped a worthy cause in order to provide support for our community. People love to read stories like that.
  • Perhaps in your business you have volunteered to teach classes or give a lecture on a relevant topic. Or maybe you've had a change in staff you would like to announce.
  • People send out press releases when they've made major internal changes, such as switching to a new technology or creating something unique.
If you think about the kind of things you tell people that you do when your promote your business, those are the kinds of things that can be turned into a press release. So go spread your news and increase your rankings!

Why Use a Blog Reader?

Readers (also known as news aggregators) are an awesome way to bring together all the online content you read. Not only can you keep organized, but they make it a cinch to glance through your list and know who has made an update that you might want to read. They work by pulling all your RSS feeds from blogs and news into one window pane. Down one side they have a list of the blogs you're subscribed to, and in the viewing pane they show the articles that have been posted. They highlight the blog titles whenever a person does an update, so in one glance you can see what new content to view.

I resisted a reader at first, but now in 15 minutes a day I can glance through 30+ blogs and read the articles that interest me. I chose the Google reader, but only because my blog is on Google and I already had an account.

Why do you need to read so many blogs? Because so many people are posting so much of what they're thinking. Blogs are also an ideal way to learn about something new (SEO is my topic of choice these days). Many people write extensively on one topic, so you can learn a lot just by reading a few minutes daily. They're also a great way to share information between friends. Many people write in a blog like a diary.

If you want to take in the benefits of blog information, then I would recommend a reader. You can use one online or through your computer. It will save you so much time! Here are some of the most popular readers:

I Want My Site to Be #1 on Google

As the saying goes, if I could have a nickle for every time someone made this request, I would be a rich woman. Being number one in the Google organic search involves a lot of variables. Nobody really knows for sure exactly how it works, but in a nutshell, here's the theory:

To get into Google you can submit your URL and ask them to spider you, but that does not get you in there right away. It can take 1 to 3 months before they index your site. In addition, getting top listings in Google is not something you can pay for. You can pay for the ads that appear in the right sidebar, but within the listings that are your search results it is based on a logarithm that nobody really knows. Conjecture has it that the search results are based on popularity, and popularity is based on 3 factors (in order of weight):

  • How relevant the links are to your site
  • How many links there are to your site
  • How many visits there are to your site
In addition, the age of your URL, i.e. how long it's been indexed, will play a part in your ranking, but the number of links that go TO your site that are relevant to the search criteria are really the deciding factors to get high up in the search ranking. So if you want to increase your Google ranking, here are some things you can do:

Optimize your site. Make sure your content is clear and not redundant. Make sure your title, description and keyword tags are filled out, accurate and not redundant. Make good use of your content by inter-linking within your site. Link to other people's sites, and ask them to link back to you.

If your URL is new, get it into the search engines. Even if it's not new, make sure it's in the search engines. There are free search engine submission services online, but they often ask for payment for the real services, or ask for a link back to their site. Here are some you can do for free, but use an email address that you don't mind getting their extra advertising.
Third, do some link investigation and begin to build your link library TO your site. To do this, I recommend you discover what your competitors are doing. So for example, if you searched for "personal trainer" “Los Angeles”, you will see who comes up at the top of the list. Then you want to look at that site and see who is linking to them. To do that take the URL of the site and past it into the Google search box like this: “+” Then you’ll be able to see all the sites that link TO your competitors. It will also give you good ideas on where you can list your site. I would recommend watching this video tutorial on How to Get Awesome Links by the SEOmozBlog.

That in a nutshell is what is really a long and complex process. Getting high up in the Google rankings takes a concerted effort and is a process in patience. It takes about 12 months to establish a URL and have it fully indexed throughout the Internet. Companies spend thousands a month doing what I described above — searching keywords and finding new places to plant links. Hopefully this information will help to get you started.

Landau Design is on Twitter

Well we've decide to dive in with two feet and truly join the official social network phenomenon of 2009 -- Twitter. A recent report by Nielsen shows Twitter grew 1,382 percent in one year! It's truly the fastest growing network of its kind.

It must be growing fast because when I went there to sign up, I kept getting the message that there were too many twitters, try again in a few minutes. So while it's fabulous to have an interesting network opportunity, the usability factor appears to need some investigation and improvement.

Many people wonder why use Twitter for my business? I wondered the same thing, so I did some research. Hopefully the following helps you decide if this is an avenue that will help to expand your network:

I'll keep you posted on how Twittering changes things around here!