post

Free Websites!

Can you create a website for free?  Yes, Web.com, Wix, Weebly, eHost, Strikingly, GoDaddy, SiteBuilder and iPage all let you do that.  

I suggest you spend an afternoon trying to figure them out.  No matter which ‘free’ site developer you choose, you’ll find frustration and a good deal of work.  You’ll also find you’re locked into the few templates or themes they offer with little choice and insufficient options for what it is you want to do.  

Then comes the day when you really want to do something big, like ecommerce, you’ll have to pay for it, and naturally so, eCommerce isn’t exactly trivial.  Even with Etsy or Ebay or an Amazon store.  I say, please, go ahead, test out the water.  You’ll find it fascinating, interesting and tedious.  The water is a bit chilly.  

Besides, you want to be in business, not in the WEB business.  That’s what I do, and I’ve done it for a long, long, time.  I’ll take all that pain out of the experience for you.  Whether you’re upgrading your existing site, creating a whole new site, or just need marketing expertise or SEO help, you won’t find a better solution than this old guy named Duane Bentzen.  Yes, funny name. Some Norseman messed that one up.  But it’s unique, just like me.

After you’ve done your research, give me a call.  I’ll have a beautiful, elegant, and up to date website up for you in an afternoon.  Yep, that’s right, it can be done in a matter of hours.  While you’re reading the instructions and watching YouTube, your site can be done.  But of course if you want something big, it’ll take longer.  Let’s talk.

And I’ll be happy to give you all the referrals you’d like to hear from.  Email me or call.  You KNOW what to do…

post

Embed Video

Want to show off?  Do you want to embed video or run a PodCast from your WordPress site?  Just to show you how easy it is to enhance your WordPress site with either video or audio, I’ve installed a WordPress video plugin.  I am touting both a plugin and a media experience itself.  

First you’ll need a plugin to be able to show your handiwork, then you’ll need the video file component downloaded to your WordPress site (you can use the Media menu item) for the plugin to display.  I’m using Noor’s ‘Easy WordPress Video Plugin‘ that you can find on the WordPress.org site (click the link) with some pretty decent documentation from Noor’s plugin pages. Although there are a number of plugins that play audio and video, this one is as the name implies ‘Easy’.

To install it, the quickest method is to go to your plugin menu, click the Add New button and search for Easy Video Plugin.  It will appear at the top; click the Install Now button on the plugin description, then click the Activate link and presto, you’re in business.

Once you have the plugin installed and activated just take your MP4 video and put it in your site and insert a short code on the page or post you want.  Go to the Media menu, click Add New, click Select Files, browse to the location of your video (my MP4 file in this case) and click Open.  The video will then be uploaded, as long as it’s smaller than the ‘maximum size’ allowed by your WordPress.  If you can’t use the Media loader because of a size restriction, you’ll have to use FTP to get the video file on your site.  I’m not going to get into FTP, if you need it you’ll have to talk to your hosting company about FTP access to your site, but even using FTP allows you to drag and drop (usually) your file to a folder that exists or you create.

Now that you’ve got your video downloaded, you need to know exactly where it is and what it’s name is because you’ll use that path to tell the shortcode, that makes this whole thing work, where to find the video on the site.  If you use the Media functions, you can edit the download and get the path.  All you’ll need is the following shortcode to embed and activate the video in your post or page (the path is a ‘sample’ that you’ll see is close to what you’ll get from a WordPress media upload):

evp_embed_video url=”http://example.com/wp-content/uploads/videos/vid1.mp4″

You may want to put the shortcode in through the text editing tab of your post or page, though with Noor’s plugin it’s not necessary, and it’s always wrapped in square brackets [ ] to make it actually function.  I didn’t put the brackets in my example, or it would have embedded the video:

You can, though I don’t recommend it, have the video play automatically with the ‘autoplay’ attribute:

evp_embed_video url=”http://example.com/wp-content/uploads/videos/vid1.mp4″ autoplay=”true”

Or you can set the width (well and the height too, though the default aspect ratio is “0.417”) with the width attribute (my width is set to 500):

evp_embed_video url=”http://example.com/wp-content/uploads/videos/vid1.mp4″ width=”500″

The documentation covers all of this and a lot more, so just install and go!

 

post

Who Uses WordPress?

Who in the world would use WordPress?  It’s free, so how could it be any good?  Is it scalable?  What happens if my company grows?  Oh, it’s just a little blog thingy isn’t it?  It can’t be secure?  What about data I’m collecting?  Oh, I want a big e-commerce site, WordPress can’t do THAT can it? Oh, I don’t know about that Open Source stuff, does it have any support?

I was going to write a piece on this, but it’s all over the internet already.  Why would I plagiarize or rewrite something that’s been said a thousand times already.  WordPress powers almost a quarter of the internet.  Yes, 23% of the internet is powered by WordPress.  It’s HUGE folks, it’s not just a little blog platform anymore.  It is everywhere.  Google and Bing love it.  Why?  It’s simple, it’s easy to use and it has major ROI.  If you don’t know what ROI is, it’s Return On Investment.  It has MASSIVE support.  Far superior to anything Microsoft has and you have to PAY for Microsoft, WordPress support is free.

WordPress is what is known as a Content Management System or CMS.  I’m a database guy; the basis of all content management systems is a database.  Data driven software is a database guy’s dream.  Everything the software uses is contained in the MySQL database.  It allows the user interface to be simple and effective.  I started using CMS systems back in the dark ages of the internet with CMS systems like Mambo, Joomla and Drupal.  They were the ‘prototypes’ and they were sufficient, but hard to use for the regular guy.  WordPress is elegant, simple and so easy ANYONE can use them to manage their content.  And what drives the internet?  Content.

So suffice it to say that until something better comes along, WordPress is the bomb.  And the platform itself is completely free.  You pay only for a domain, a hosting company and for me to install and configure it for you.  You can maintain your own content if you like.  Nothing compares, and I know, I have used them all and originally coded my own web sites in HTML, also back in the dark ages.  Now I don’t have to do that and what used to take me weeks now takes me hours.  How’s that for automation.

Anyway, without further ado, I’m going to send you to a link that tells it all. Then I’m going to list some of the major companies that use WordPress, but Freddy Muriuki, who lives in Nairobi has put together a pretty good story of The 20 Big Name Brands That Use WordPress (this is a link, click away), why to use WordPress and of what’s going on in the WordPress world so you can find out more there.  But here’s the ‘Top Twenty’ list:

  1. Best Buy Local
  2. Digg Blog
  3. eBay Blog
  4. Ford
  5. Samsung
  6. Wired
  7. Playstation
  8. People Magazine
  9. Mashable
  10. cPanel
  11. Forbes
  12. Mozilla Firefox
  13. Download.com
  14. TechCrunch
  15. Reuter’s Blog
  16. Rackspace
  17. NYTimes Blogs
  18. General Electronic (GE)
  19. Variety Mag
  20. Sony Music
post

WordPress

What is WordPress?  Well, it began as a simple blogging web site platform.  It has grown to be the largest web site development platform on the internet.  It is used by fortune 500 companies as well as small businesses all over the world.  It’s known for it’s ease of use, a massive support base, a large number of both free and commercially available themes and templates, and a vast number of plugins and add-ons that allow users to do everything a web site could need or want.

In an afternoon, a simple multi-page website can be set up for just about any business.  E-commerce is available for any size business from very large enterprises to small mom-and-pop stores.  Starting with Blogging, the original purpose for WordPress, you can now create image galleries, forums, news aggregate sites, e-commerce as mentioned of course, job boards, booking systems (for hotels or ticket sales), support desks, real estate sites, YouTube lookalikes, classified pages (like newspapers) and real time graphics from data (like a stock exchange).

WordPress powers more than 23% of the web — a massive figure that rises every day. Everything from simple websites, to blogs, to complex portals and enterprise websites, and even applications, are built with WordPress. So unless you’re Apple, Microsoft or Elon Musk have lots of money and time to spend re-inventing the wheel; WordPress is your best choice, and we are the best ones to implement it for you. Some VERY elegant and beautiful websites are done with WordPress.

From the WordPress.org site; here are some of the features of WordPress:

    • Simplicity – Simplicity makes it possible for you to get online and get publishing, quickly. Nothing should get in the way of you getting your website up and your content out there.  WordPress is built to make that happen.
    • Flexibility – With WordPress, you can create any type of website you want: a personal blog or website, a photoblog, a business website, a professional portfolio, a government website, a magazine or news website, an online community, even a network of websites. You can make your website beautiful with themes, and extend it with plugins. You can even build your very own application.
    • Publish with Ease – If you’ve ever created a document, you’re already a whizz at creating content with WordPress. You can create Posts and Pages, format them easily, insert media, and with the click of a button your content is live and on the web.
    • Publishing Tools – WordPress makes it easy for you to manage your content. Create drafts, schedule publication, and look at your post revisions. Make your content public or private, and secure posts and pages with a password.
    • User Management – Not everyone requires the same access to your website. Administrators manage the site, editors work with content, authors and contributors write that content, and subscribers have a profile that they can manage. This lets you have a variety of contributors to your website, and let others simply be part of your community.
    • Media Management – They say a picture says a thousand words, which is why it’s important for you to be able to quickly and easily upload images and media to WordPress. Drag and drop your media into the uploader to add it to your website. Add alt text, captions, and titles, and insert images and galleries into your content. We’ve even added a few image editing tools you can have fun with.
    • Full Standards Compliance – Every piece of WordPress generated code is in full compliance with the standards set by the W3C. This means that your website will work in today’s browser, while maintaining forward compatibility with the next generation of browser. Your website is a beautiful thing, now and in the future.
    • Easy Theme System – WordPress comes bundled with two default themes, but if they aren’t for you there’s a theme directory with thousands of themes for you to create a beautiful website. None of those to your taste? Upload your own theme with the click of a button. It only takes a few seconds for you to give your website a complete makeover.
    • Plugins – WordPress comes packed full of features for every user, for every other feature there’s a plugin directory with thousands of plugins. Add complex galleries, social networking, forums, social media widgets, spam protection, calendars, fine-tune controls for search engine optimization, and forms.
    • Built-in Comments – Your blog is your home, and comments provide a space for your friends and followers to engage with your content. WordPress’s comment tools give you everything you need to be a forum for discussion and to moderate that discussion.
    • Search Engine Optimized – WordPress is optimized for search engines right out of the box. For more fine-grained SEO control, there are plenty of SEO plugins to take care of that for you.
    • Multilingual – WordPress is available in more than 70 languages. If you or the person you’re building the website for would prefer to use WordPress in a language other than English, that’s easy to do.
    • Easy Installation and Upgrades – WordPress has always been easy to install and upgrade. If you’re happy using an FTP program, you can create a database, upload WordPress using FTP, and run the installer. Not familiar with FTP? Plenty of web hosts offer one-click WordPress installers that let you install WordPress with, well, just one click!
post

Site Development

How Does This Work?

It’s really a step by step process.  We will have more questions for you than you have for us. Our goal is to build you a better website using today’s tools starting with Word Press.

Do you have a ‘Domain’?

  • This is where it starts with web services.
  • You will need a .com, .net or .org domain name so you can be seen on the web.
  • Domains cost roughly $10/year, depending on the .com, .net or .org.
  • If you have a domain, you have a home for your site.

If you don’t already have a website, next comes ‘hosting’

  • Your website will reside on a server somewhere on the web.
  • Services like Go-Daddy have web servers where your site; the software and hardware live.
  • Hosting is anywhere from $4 per month (Go-Daddy type services) to as much as
  • $10-20 per month depending on how much space and capacity you need.
  • Our managed hosting is $10 per month or $100 per year.
  • Managed hosting means we perform maintenance, keep out the viruses and make
  • sure you’re backed up.
  • Our hosting, like most hosting companies, guarantee 99.99% uptime.
  • If the internet is up, so is your website.
  • We also add other services on to this price if you need or want them.

Do you already have a web site?

  • If you do, we’ll bring it up to date and make it easy to update.
  • We use a product called WordPress, it’s easy to create and easy to maintain.
  • You can create your own ‘content’, using WordPress templates and themes.
  • It’s so easy you can maintain it yourself.
  • We can create and maintain your content if you wish, that’s one of our services.
  • But we don’t just want to build you a website, anyone can do that. We are
  • experts in web design, and want to keep you relevant now and in the future.
  • That includes using WordPress themes that are artful, elegant and stay current
  • with the technology (which changes daily) and anticipating what you’ll need.

Her’s another bit of Jargon for you: Responsive!

  • Let’s face it. Everyone uses smart phones these days. In fact, over 50% (and more every day) of site users visit from mobile devices! So, what does this whole “responsive” thing have to do with it? Responsive design means that we approach design and development with the idea that the site we are crafting should respond to the user’s behavior and environment based on screen size, platform and orientation. In layman’s terms, whether it be a phone, tablet or desktop computer, your site is going to be easy to use and it’s going to look fantastic.

What else do you need?

  • Do you need or want customization to the standard package?
  • Shopping carts and E-Commerce
  • Advertising – Google AdSense to bring you revenue
  • Calendars and Forums?
  • Customized data forms?
  • Do you want to manage your own ‘content’?
  • You’ll need a little training or we can point you to places you can learn
  • Do you need special graphics, video or other media?
  • Perhaps all you need is a WordPress Add-on or ‘Plug-in’
  • Galleries for photos and media abound, most are free!

Search Engine Optimization

  • If you’ve investigated our home page, you’ll have seen information on what is called SEO. It’s really a misnomer, although there still are three major ‘Search Engines’ where people will find you on the internet.
  • Google is obviously the most used and the biggest, but there are still Bing (Microsoft) and of course Yahoo.
  • Content is what brings people to your site, but there are tips and tricks to the SEO trade.
  • If we maintain your content, we will make you show up in the search engines.
  • If you maintain your content, we’ll share the secrets of the mysterious SEO.

Social Media – The Vortex

  • Another service we provide is likes, followers, connections, pins, snaps,  shares, videos, tweets and votes.
  • You need it we will add it to your tab.
  • Facebook and Twitter pages can be used to enhance how your customers and members find you.
  • We can make it happen!
  • Social media will help you get recognized as an authority on whatever your web site offers.

Just need an email box for your business?

  • Up to ten email addresses for Webmail are included in our hosting.
  • Need more? We can even get you set up with Gmail for your non-profit, using your own company name, for free.
  • Operating a for profit business? Well, yes google charges for that.

Email Marketing

Need to send email to your subscribers and customers?

  • Not only can we help you design and monetize your email messages, we call them ‘templates’ just like the web sites, but we can introduce you to a number of ways to use email marketing and contact to keep your members and customers informed.
  • Mail Chimp
  • Constant Contact
  • Ongage
  • Sendgrid
  • We will help you keep up with all your email requirements.

Monetization

  • We will show you the best practices and ad networks to make sure your site generates income.

Support

We built it. We support it. Whenever you need maintenance or design modifications, we will
be there to help you.

Graphic Design and Marketing

  • Looking for a new logo?
  • Need help with your product design?
  • We have a complete ‘Marketing’ department we can call on!
  • You name it, we can do it and keep it in your budget.
post

Social Networking

The Vortex

Social Networking and Social Media are some of the latest tools used for internet marketing.  Your web site will have icons for every media platform you engage in.   We are able, through the social ‘channels’, to get you likes, followers, connections, pins, snaps, shares, videos, tweets and votes.  But unlike elsewhere, you can’t buy these.  Purchasing Facebook likes won’t get you to the real people who you’re trying to reach with your message, product or service.  It takes a lot work.  

In order to get recognized in the social media, you’ll need a Facebook, a YouTube channel, a LinkedIn account, at least one Twitter account, a Google+ account, an Instagram account, a Pinterest page and a host of other ‘billboards’ across the web.  If you’d like our help, we can do it for you or we can teach you or your staff how to do it.  Either way, if effort is applied, your presence will rise in the Google ratings and you’ll create that Vortex  where ‘viral’ really means something.

Social media will help you get recognized as an authority on whatever your web site offers.  If you’d like our help, we will add it to your tab.  All the social sites can be used to enhance your message and how your customers and members find you. We can make it happen!

post

SEO

Search Engine Optimization

If you’ve investigated our home page, you’ll have seen information on what is called SEO.  It’s really a misnomer, although there still are three major ‘Search Engines’ where people will find you on the internet, and Search Engine Optimization is how you get noticed by people searching for you.  

Google is obviously the most used and the biggest search engine, but there are still Bing (Microsoft) and of course Yahoo as well as a number of smaller ‘engines’, some of which search for specific things. Content is what brings people to your site, but there are tips and tricks to the SEO trade.

The search is only the start.  You’ve probably heard of tags and keywords.  That’s not so much the way it’s done anymore.  There is a method to the madness, and it involves how Google and Bing ‘rank’ you.  Basically it’s a popularity contest and a struggle to become the ‘authority’ on any given subject.  It’s about back links and no-follows and references to and from other sources.  Talk to us, our staff members have worked for Google, we know a lot about how it’s done.  If others tell you they are the experts, they’re wrong, there is no such thing.  It’s an art form; it’s a moving target that requires constant adjustments in your aim.  What worked last week, won’t work today.

If we maintain your content, we will make you show up in the search engines. If you maintain your content, we’ll share the secrets of the mysterious SEO…

post

Height

Nature is beauty; it has height, width and depth.  Without these your site will appear flat.  Content is king, but your site must be eye catching.  When you look at this photograph I made of Half Dome in 2010, it is majestic and breathtaking.  Half dome has incredible height, thousands of feet of solid rock.  

Although the computer screen shows only two dimensions, we strive to create your site or app with all three.  To keep them coming back we use content and a call to action, but like Yosemite or the Grand Canyon, it’s that first view that grabs their attention.  Your site is a portal into the world of you or your business.  What is it you want your friends or clients to see?  You want them to be attracted and informed.  You want them to keep coming back, whether it’s to purchase your product, find out about new products, or just to inform them.  

Content is king, so the words mean a lot.  The search engines find you through the text you post on your site, and you can read all about what we used to call Search Engine Optimization or SEO in another post, but remember, even though it may be all about the search for someone to find you, we help you keep them coming back…

 

post

Width

It takes all three dimensions to make our world.  Photos and graphics have two; height and width.  Our goal is to give your web presence all three dimensions, and we do it with words, video, and pictures.

This photo of I took of the Yosemite valley, also in 2010, is an example of a wide angle view of the world.  from El Capitan on the left to Half Dome in the distance and the valley floor below it to Bridal Veil falls on the right, the entire width of the valley is breathtaking.  This photo taken from the ‘Tunnel View’ is one of the most famous views of the valley.  As you drive up Highway 41, called the Wawona road, this viewpoint is at the east end of the Wawona Tunnel.  

We create what we call a ‘Vortex’ for your website.  By using Social media your presence will take advantage of a bevy of connections that create a whirlwind of traffic.  We help you create Facebook pages, Twitter followers, a LinkedIn page, YouTube videos, Instagram pictures and posts as well as a Google + page and we utilize Google Webmaster tools to make sure that you’re found in Google searches.  

 

post

Depth

Sure, the two dimensional world is great, it makes up most of the web.  But without depth, the third dimension, the world would not be the same.  

Our goal is to give your site depth.  This photo of the upper Yosemite valley was taken from Glacier Point and it gives you a rare view of the park.  Standing high on a glacier carved cliff, it is a long drive up from the Valley.  On a clear day you look across at half dome toward Tania Lake.  To the east you can view Nevada Falls and the high sierras toward Mammoth mountain.  The distances are vast; that’s depth.  It’s hard to get a feel for it in a picture, but we strive to bring depth to your website.  

Most of your depth will come from information, but we like to grab your customer, client or fan and keep them coming back.  It can’t be done without all three dimensions.  Those dimensions and the depth come from the use of other tools.  You Tube, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram and LinkedIn are just a few of the tools we use to create depth.