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Lucky Gnome Creative, LLC

Telephone (858)220-9677

The key to developing a successful website begins with a foundational web development strategy, one refined with years of experience listening to what clients want. Working closely with your organization to fully understand its marketing and business goals, Lucky Gnome Creative Designs leverages years of experience in web development and web application design to develop and deliver a professional website that fits your company’s image, needs, and objectives perfectly. With a detailed website development strategy in hand, we help your company attain its eBusiness goals quickly, allowing your company to expand into new markets, leverage resources, cut costs and improve operational efficiency.

Whether it’s understanding how to best leverage the web as a marketing tool or automating a business process to improve efficiency, the web can take your company where it wants to go, quickly. Our experienced web developers can help make it happen for your company. Contact our professional website development team today.

Wednesday
May182011

Five Compelling Reasons to Add a Blog

With the increased popularity of systems like Wordpress, Blogger, and Blogspot, adding a company blog into your online marketing effort is easier than ever, but why should you invest the extra effort? Listed below are five quick reasons how an adding a blog can help your company grow.

1. Credibility in your industry
Assuming you take the time to publish quality information, a well-written blog post demonstrates to readers that you have a level of expertise in your industry. Supplying readers with industry trends, tips, or techniques is a great way to capture an audience and keep them wanting more. In essence, with each blog post, you garner a certain amount of trust…which could lead to additional customers in the future.

2. The People Behind the Brand
Far too often, organizations are seen as entities with no personality. Customer support agents answer questions from pre-determined scripts and there is little-to-no connection with a prospective client. By writing a blog, you are afforded the ability to publish useful information and give readers some insight as to who you really are. Mixing in the occasional corporate outing, community involvement, or sharing images about your employees can humanize the perception of your organization.

3. SEO Implications
Most websites have a fairly limited number of pages, and a limited number of words per page. Adding a blog means you can regularly create rich content, and include the keywords which just don’t seem to work on your static pages. You’ll be supplying search engine crawlers more content to crawl on your site, and more opportunity to catalog and index your important keywords.

4. Google Loves the Freshness
When Google crawls, indexes, and ranks pages, it examines a large number of criteria to determine the importance of a website. A large portion of the criteria is directly related to how often the website is updated…in essence, how fresh is the content. Websites with content that changes frequently typically notice increased spider activity as Google attempts to make sure all the latest stories are indexed quickly. Having a blog on your site is a fairly easy way to create these frequent updates that Google is looking for.

5. Customer Relationships
Once in place, your blog can serve as a great tool to attract new customers while offering new and updated services to existing customers. Adding posts that answer common questions about a product, announcing news products, or offering specials are the most common methods to building customer loyalty.

Keep In Mind
Now, it should be noted that the power of the five items above can only be exploited by spending the time to write meaningful blog posts.  Simply throwing some quick ideas together and publishing to the web will likely see far less bang for your buck.

About the Author 
Peter Ward is Creative Director of Lucky Gnome Creative. Located in San Diego, CA, Lucky Gnome is an award-winning design firm specializing in building websites and brand strategies for small to medium-sized businesses. Connect with them on Twitter @luckygnome or follow their updates on Facebook.

Sunday
May012011

Initial steps for your small business website

As a small business owner, you’ve no doubt realized that you need a website if you have any hopes to grow your business. This article is designed to give to a high-level understanding of where to begin…from selecting a domain name to choosing a method of getting your website live.

Domain Name
Choosing your domain name (www.yourdomainname.com) is a major part of your business and should not be taken lightly. Unfortunately, at this point, most easily-read domain names are taken. If you find that your business name is available, buy it right away and don’t think twice. If it’s been taken, then consider these options when searching for an alternative:

  • Shorter is better 
  • Try combining your business name with your location…such as companynameNY if you happen to run a business in the state of New York. 
  • If the .com version is taken, see if the .net variation is available. It’s not ideal, but still a valid option. 
  • See when your desired domain name expires. Maybe you can snatch it up if the current owner forgets to renew. 
  • Stay away from hyphens. I know it’s tempting, but don’t do it.

Web Hosting
Hosting is simply storage on the web. By purchasing a hosting account, you’ll be buying space on a server at some facility…typically constructed with redundant systems to ensure your site does not experience any downtime. I’ve included a link in the “Related Content” section below that reviews a number of hosting providers.

Unless you’re planning on having a large site (100+ pages), or running an online store, it’s likely that the economy hosting package from most providers will be more than enough horsepower to get your business up and running. This is especially true if you decide to run your website within a WordPress framework.

Most economy packages range between $4-$10 per month and can go even cheaper if you purchase in bundles of 12 months. If you determine you need more emails, bandwidth…etc, you can always upgrade as needed once your site is alive and generating business. I recommend selecting one provider to purchase your domain name as well as the hosting package as there are some inherent benefits:

  1. If something ever goes wrong, you only have to deal with one customer support agent. 
  2. The administration to manage the domain name and hosting packages are streamlined. 
  3. For some providers, if you purchase one of their hosting packages, they’ll throw in the domain name.

Building the site
At this point, you’ve secured a domain name, and purchased some hosting space…but now the real work begins. Designing and creating a website is no easy task. Depending on your business, and the type of website you need, this effort can take a few weeks to a few months or longer.

Do it yourself
Building a website yourself is by far the most inexpensive solution in terms of initial cost. Simply buy a couple books, take a few online tutorials, load up Microsoft Frontpage, and spend a few sleepless nights trying to figure out how to change the color of your fonts from blue to black. Ok, maybe that’s a bit excessive, but hearing the horror stories over the last ten years, I don’t think I’m that far off.

As a small business owner, you have enough on your plate, and while this seems like a cost-efficient way to get started, it often leads to frustration, time wasted, and eventually having someone rebuild it for you anyway. If this is all you can afford, then a great place to look is the provider from which you purchased your domain name and hosting package. Typically, these companies offer a straightforward template system to get you going. The two that come to mind are Godaddy’s Website Tonight and Do-It-Myself from Register.com. These systems allow you to pick a generic template, change some colors, and add some images…all for a minimum monthly service fee.

My friend’s brother’s nephew builds websites
From time-to-time, using a friend of the family is a great way to go. There is a large population of freelance web designers out there that can do the job, sometimes better than a design firm. Additionally, without the overhead incurred by a design firm, a freelancer is generally less expensive. The cautionary tale here is that, unlike a professional, there is little-to-no accountability or formality behind the project, so timelines, cost, and support tend to become an issue.

Hire a Professional
Ah, now this should be a no-brainer…simply hire a design firm to build your site and you have nothing to worry about…maybe! While hiring a professional to build your brand and market your business is a safer method, you should still do your due diligence to determine how “professional” they really are. Here are some quick things to consider when looking to hire a web design firm:

  • Quality - Take a look at their portfolio and determine if you like their work. 
  • Experience - Read their “About Us” page and see how many projects they’ve completed and how long they’ve been around. 
  • Cost – Get quotes from a few companies, and never agree to pay for the entire project up front. 
  • References – Don’t bother. Most companies will just send you to their happiest clients anyway.

Related Content

About the Author
Peter Ward is Creative Director of Lucky Gnome Creative. Located in San Diego, CA, Lucky Gnome is an award-winning design firm specializing in building websites and brand strategies for small to medium-sized businesses. Connect with them on Twitter @luckygnome or follow their updates on Facebook.