New Website – Tampa Bay Local Guide

Here’s a new site that I’ve been working on for myself. It’s a review site for local businesses in Tampa Bay. I’ll be focusing on restaurant reviews and possibly dabbling in other types of local businesses, attractions and maybe even a few movie reviews.

Check it out at: tampabaylocalguide.com.

Do Your Holiday Announcements Help Out Your SEO?

We’re well into the Christmas Season and we’re all starting to see announcements for sales and events online in our email and social media feeds. What I’m noticing are that people are posting only in Facebook but they aren’t using those posts to help drive traffic back to their own websites.  It’s a simple matter of deciding where your content and/or posts originate from.

I’m a big believer in starting at your business website. I use WordPress for the majority of my websites and I adore the Jetpack plugin as a suite of ready-to-go tools for a variety of purposes. I used to install a dozen or so plugins whenever I would make a new WordPress site, but I’ve been able to cut that way down after I started using Jetpack.

I use the “Publicize” module in Jetpack to connect Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin and Tumblr to my blog. When I hit “Publish” on this particular blog, this post is going to automatically update my feeds in those networks with a link back to my blog. That way I’m getting as many eyeballs as possible on my posts along with links back to my site from my chose social networks.

Any blogging platform worth mentioning has the same functionality, it’s just a matter of figuring it out and setting it up to get the most bang for your buck.

New Website – Suncoast Premier Medical

Here’s another new website for a general practitioner and plastic surgeon in Clermont, FL.  It’s features include:

  1. 45 pages
  2. Customized home page slider with custom deal offer images
  3. Custom contact forms
  4. Before and after procedure galleries
  5. Social Media Links

Does Your Website Need A Face-lift?

I’ve noticed a trend this year where a significant portion of the work that I’m getting involves overhauling and refreshing existing web sites.  I’ve given face-lifts to everything from sites that I built myself a few years ago to sites built in the last millennium!  I’ve converted sites to WordPress, Joomla, Shopify and Lemonstand.  I’ve even built a few sites directly out of HTML5/CSS3.

The primary reasons my customers looked for these rebuilds were:

  1. Mobile Layout/Responsive Design: Adapting their site to be responsive so that it looks good not only on computers, but on mobile platforms, tablets, and smartphones.
  2. Functionality: Adding additional functionality to their sites including mailing lists, customer forms, sliders, custom graphics, link-sharing capabilities and links to their social media.
  3. E-Commerce: Adding a shopping cart to an existing site or totally converting a site over to E-Commerce.
  4. Site Refresh: Revamping the look of their site with a modern layout and custom graphics.

I’ve been working in partnership with DrewSevan Design this year and we’ve put together some really great sites. The collaboration has gone so well that we’ve both decided to add site refresh/face-lifts to our portfolio of services.  We’ve launched a joint website, Web-Facelift.com. If you’re interested in having us take a look at your site head over, fill out the form in as much detail as you wish and we’ll take a look.

Website Refresh – JaPaulScape.com

Busy as usual, but I wanted to make a quick post to feature a website refresh for one of my customers that I’m especially proud of, JaPaulscape.com.  The owner called me looking to get an update and refresh for his site, including a new logo.  I contacted the designer I’ve been partnering with, Evan at Drew Sevan Design, and we came up with a new lofo for JaPaul’ and an update for his site.

We kept him on WordPress and added these features and updates:

  1. New logo
  2. Cycling background image.  The owner wanted it and I was hesitant at first, but in the end I think it looks great and adds movement to the site that I normally achieve with a slider.  Good call on his part.
  3. Addition of floating social link tabs to the right side of the site.
  4. Upgraded site to latest version of WordPress, currently 3.7.1
  5. Upgraded theme to latest version of Builder, currently 5.0.10.  This allowed me to take advantage of new features including:
    1. Native mobile and tablet responsive support.  Check it out on your phone, I love the new nav bar styling
    2. Easier customization and upgrading
    3. Automatic theme updates
  6. Updated and adapted code and css to keep his old options in the new setup.

Evan and I are putting together a service to do this for businesses that need a site refresh and/or web facelift.  Look for an announcement in the near future, possibly today!

Here’s a before and after, let me know what you think.

New Website – AutomotiveHospitality.com

It’s been 10 months since I last posted an update, not because I’ve had nothing to say, but because I’ve been extremely busy.  As those of you in business for yourself know, promoting and working on your own business often takes a back seat to working for clients and I’ve definitely been guilty of that over the past year.

I want to showcase the sites I’ve been working on in the past few months.  I’m so proud of a site I just finished a few weeks ago that it has finally pushed me to get the word back out on what I’ve been doing.

AutomotiveHospitality.com

There are quite a few things different about this site than the sites that I normally build.

  1. Instead of working from a template, the website design was created, with completely custom graphics, by  a professional designer from DrewSevan Design.
  2. All content on the pages and sliders professionally written by IdeaWorks Creative Group.
  3. Instead of developing in WordPress or another CMS, I developed the site in HTML5 and CSS3 by hand at the customers request.
  4. I developed it as a responsive site that adapts to the device and screen size that it’s being displayed on.  Go ahead and try it on a tablet or on your phone or just change the size of your browser window.
  5. It includes a responsive java slider with custom fly-in graphics.

This doesn’t mean that I’ve given up on WordPress at all, this was a special request by the customer to build in HTML and was actually more expensive to develop that way than a WordPress site.  Regardless, it was a challenge that I met.  I really got to stretch my wings and test my boundaries as a web developer and I’m extremely proud of the results.

New Website – Sam the Hubcap Man

Sam the Hubcap Man was a customer of mine at my former company who replied to one of my email blasts, inquiring about getting his site rebuilt.  He wanted to feature more hubcaps and accessories than he had on his old site as well as having links to his manufacturers.  We had a few meetings and the new websiteis the result.

It’s features include:

  1. Custom slider on the homepage
  2. Custom design
  3. Social media links
  4. Rotating rim and wheel slide shows on every page
  5. Galleries with over 1,000 images for Hubcaps, Wheel Skins, Chrome Accessories, Simulators, Euro Lights and Center Caps
  6. Links to Rim and Tire manufacturers opening in a lightbox to lower the site’s bounce rate

Google phasing out Places for Google+ Pages

Google announced today the release of Google+ Local, which will eventually replace Google Places.  I’ve been monitoring my customers accounts since I saw the announcement this morning, but it looks like the changes haven’t reached everyone yet.

The biggest changes for now are how Google handles pictures and reviews.  Business reviews and pictures are now handled through individual Google+ accounts and the rating system has switched over to Zagat’s 30-point scale.

The complete list of changes includes:

  1. Replacement of Google Places pages with Google+ Local Pages
  2. Addition of a “Local” tab in Google+
  3. Changing their rating system to a Zagat 30-point scale
  4. The continuing integration of Google+ into the rest of Google’s properties

As I absorb the changes and integrate my customers into the new interface, I’ll keep you updated with my thoughts.

Three New Websites – An Auto Shop, A Short Film and A Dance Troupe

I’ve been really busy the last 2 months, bringing on new clients and working on a lot of new projects.  I just finished posting on Facebook about the latest website that I made live and realized that I have two others that I haven’t posted on my own blog!  So without further ado, here they are:

Scott’s Automotive Inc

The customer wanted it to be slick, clean and SEO-friendly. I’ve been working on it for a really long time. It’s the biggest site that I’ve built yet where I had to generate all the content myself.  Features include:

  • 2 types of custom slider
  • Custom page layouts for “Top” pages and “Parts & Services” pages
  • 220+ Entries on car repair and body work with text and pictures on each
  • 35+ Pages including “Top” pages and categories for Parts & Services
  • 40+ Categories
  • 600+ Metatags
  • Music on the home page with access for visitors to control the volume or turn it off
  • Social media links on every page

Childish Dream Chronicles the Mess Up Room

This site was built for a short film shot locally in Tampa, Florida.  The purpose of the site is to publicize, showcase and eventually sell the movie.  They really went all out with a full crew, professional cameras and professional actors.  It’s a really impressive project and the site I built currently has a lot of behind-the-scenes content while the actual film is being put together.

The site is built to evolve with the project, from post-production to trailers and film festivals and the eventual release and/or sale of the movie on the site itself.  Features include:

  • Custom sliders
  • Custom slide show galleries
  • Video preview and customer-only pages (coming soon)
  • Social media links and social media sharing options

Philippine Performing Arts Company Inc

I’ve been a member of the Philippine Performing Arts Company since before it’s founding.  Filipino dance has been a huge part of my life and I only stopped being an active member a few years ago after family and work really cut down on my extra-curricular activity time.  They’re having a big show this May at the Straz Center for the Performing Arts.  This will be the first big show that I haven’t been in.  I channeled my feelings into something positive and decided to create a new site for them to celebrate the new show.  Features include:

  • Front page slider
  • Individual pages for the types of Filipino dance
  • Individual sliders for each dance style page
  • Video page with YouTube video links
  • Social media links
  • Mailing list subscription

Google Sends Cool Swag

As a Google Certified Partner, I periodically get cool swag and promo items.  Last time I got a baseball cap and a USB Drive.  This time it’s a really nice glass thermos with Google’s logo and more $100 coupons for new Google AdWords customers.