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Precision Computing Arts / Fastwebdev Blog
Precision Computing Arts / Fastwebdev Blog

Welcome to the Precision Computing Arts / Fastwebdev blog. We use this blog to post interesting news about our Sitebuilder web hosting and content management system (CMS). As with other blogging systems, blog articles from our system are indexed in Google and other search engines within a week or two.

(Customers can set up and maintain similar blogs on any Sitebuilder websites that we host.)

Thursday, December 24 2009

6 things to knowMost website clients want development tasks to be completed for no money and in no time. That’s understandable, of course, but it’s not realistic because building Web pages is as much art as science, and it’s time-consuming (though fun and creative) work that requires significant attention to detail.

To help her clients better understand what’s involved in building web pages, About.com “Guide to Web Design” blogger Jennifer Kyrnin recently wrote an article titled “6 Things Your Web Designer Wants You to Understand.” » read complete article

For those who want to know why things take time, cost money, don’t match printouts, aren’t the exact color you are expecting, and more, we’ve adapted her points as they relate to the work Precision Computing Arts does for our clients. As always, please feel free to contact us with any questions or concerns you might have.

1. Most projects are feasible, given enough money and time.

Chances are, we can do almost anything you want, but there are two big caveats: money and time. If we’ve already done exactly what you’re proposing, the project will cost less and take less time than if you’re asking for something new. We’ll always do our best to give you a ballpark idea about whether something is quick, easy, and inexpensive; whether it’s slow, difficult, and expensive; whether it’s something in between; whether we’re just not sure until we try it; or whether it is beyond our capabilities. Of course, if you change the criteria, that likely will change the money, time, and/or feasibility.

2. Web design is not instantaneous.

We try to create pages that look attractive and load quickly. But this isn’t necessarily easy or fast. A good rule of thumb is to allow about one or two business days for minor changes; a week for medium changes; and even longer for more difficult changes. These rules of thumb may vary a bit with our workload. If it’s light, you typically will enjoy quicker turnaround; if not, you may need to wait a bit. We’ll always do our best to be prompt and to keep you informed about any expected delays.

3. Web design is not print design.

It’s almost impossible to exactly replicate a print design on a website because:

  • Different web browsers such as Internet Explorer, Firefox, Chrome, and Safari render pages differently. We do look at our designs in these different browsers and try to create designs that are pleasing, though not necessarily identical, in each one.
  • Print designs can count on easily replicated paper sizes, colors, fonts, and so on. With web design, the fonts, colors, and screen sizes people will see can vary considerably.
  • Website design involves more than just good looks! It requires careful attention to content, search engine optimization (SEO), navigation, and general usability issues as well.

4. Colors are a challenge.

While printed materials can specify specific color schemes using CMYK standards for ink, computers don’t use CMYK (they use RGB). Even if we exactly convert CMYK to RGB, the colors viewed on your screen still might not look 100% correct because different monitors are calibrated differently, and you may have different monitors, operating systems, Web browsers, room color schemes, and ambient light than we do. All these can affect a Web design in ways that the designer cannot anticipate or do much about. For example, we’ve had people refer to a red color that looks brown to us. Go figure!

5. E-commerce, databases, and other complex web applications can take a lot of time and work and can cost extra.

We employ our “Cool Tools” system to help us implement e-commerce, databases, and other applications as quickly and efficiently as possible. These Cool Tools typically will increase your web hosting charges over the cheap $3-$10 per month services out there. For example, a Cool Tools website with many bells and whistles costs about $20/month, whereas a website with the same bells and whistles plus a shopping cart costs about $40/month.

However, the Cool Tools save you money on development costs, and they enable you to maintain your own site with relative ease and without hand coding in HTML, PHP, or other difficult-to-use alphabet-soup programming languages. For example, adding e-commerce and databases in a typical hand-coded system can be astronomically expensive and take considerable time; with our Cool Tools system, it’s much quicker and less expensive. But you should expect that sites with these extra goodies still will require more work, time, and money than sites without them.

6. Remember why youve hired a professional web designer.

A professional web designer usually can get your website up and running faster and better than your typical friend or brother-in-law (unless they, too, are professional web designers). But, you often do get what you pay for (see “IF YOU PAY PEANUTS, YOU GET MONKEYS” blog article by Karalyn Eckerle). We promise to listen to our clients with respect, to consider your comments and suggestions, and to foster a great working relationship with you. We hope you will do the same for us so that your website can show off your company in the best possible way and provide your website’s visitors with a great experience.

Posted by: Elizabeth Olson AT 04:29 pm   |  Permalink   |  Email
Friday, November 13 2009

New Cool Tools Features!Our "Cool Tools" web hosting service has made it easier than ever to create and edit websites. So if you are maintaining your own website through our service, or you have friends, colleagues, or family members who want to set up their own websites, please tell them about these features, as well as our free 10-day trial sites

Click for larger viewOne of the coolest new features is the Site Builder Preview, a spiffy new user interface that looks better and is better organized than the standard interface, making site editing setup and maintenance easier than ever before. To access this feature, log in to your Admin page. Then click the Site builder preview link under News and Updates.

What else is new? New design templates, improved logo handling and new logo designs, new backgrounds and background features, new groupboxes, social networking features, mailing list and landing page referral tracking, and automatic email responses when users fill out a form on your site. You'll also find new Ecommerce features, including an updated store home page, support for editing coupons, the ability to use multiple gift certificates upon checkout, and more. The Help and Tutorials also have been improved. For a detailed summary of the features described above, simply log into your Admin page and then click the System Update - ver. 4.15 [09/26/2009] link under News and Information.

Want More New Features?

Here are a few from an update installed 11/2009.

  • More new template layouts
  • The ability to hide the top banner
  • The ability to update the top bar image for certain templates
  • Improved Background design page, including a background gradient maker
  • More control over the appearance of popup menus and the design layout width
  • Seasonal logos (Thanksgiving and end-of-year Holidays coming soon)

For consulting help using these features, or to have us incorporate any of these features into your own website, please contact us. (Note: These features are available only to customers whose websites are built using our "Cool Tools" content management systems. Most Precision Computing Arts customers are on this newer system, but a few of our clients remain on an older Dreamweaver based system. Not sure which system you're using? Just drop us a line and we'll gladly let you know.)

Posted by: Elizabeth Olson AT 01:15 pm   |  Permalink   |  Email
Thursday, November 12 2009

Precision Computing Arts welcomes two new websites for the same customer! Please visit Frederick Michael King's art-related websites at:

  • Earth Fire Designs (www.earthfiredesigns.com) features hand carved ceramic murals, tile, architectural elements, and fireplaces.
  • King Contemporary Art (www.kingcontemporaryart.com) features contemporary wall mounted metal sculptures and encaustic wax paintings for private, hotel, and corporate spaces.

We also invite you to visit the new website for Mr. Shrine (www.mrshrine.com). Ralph Wilson (aka Mr. Shrine) and his partner Kathleen McLeod create and teach others how to create folk-art shrines, mini-art car kits, pins and magnets on copper, painted luggage, and more.

For more details about these three sites and their special features, please visit our Artists & Painters portfolio page.

Referrals Appreciated!

Don't forget that we LOVE referrals from our existing customers. These three sites were made possible by referrals from existing customers — thank you Brian and Kathleen

Posted by: Elizabeth AT 02:03 pm   |  Permalink   |  Email
Wednesday, August 26 2009

Precision Computing Arts / Fastwebdev welcomes:

  • WestCoast Natives (Ryan Gorretta) - We're creating a new website for him; he's creating new landscaping for us! Watch for www.westcoastnatives.com, coming soon.

We made some exciting updates to:

  • PerioCDent (Improved design and new information)

Many thanks to our new clients and to our loyal long-time clients who have kept us in business during tough times. We are grateful to be a part of YOUR business and look forward to working with you in the future.

We're always looking for referrals, so if you are happy with our work, please tell your colleagues, family, and friends. We offer consulting fee discounts for every referral that becomes a client, making referrals a win-win for everyone.

Hey, Precision Computing Arts / Fastwebdev Clients!
Would you like to see your name on our Client News blog pages? If so, please submit your news by contacting us or by clicking the Comments link below.

 

Posted by: Elizabeth AT 04:13 pm   |  Permalink   |  Email
Wednesday, August 26 2009

Do you want some help figuring out the best keywords to use in your Pay Per Click system (e.g., Google Adwords or Yahoo Overture)? Do you want to find out what the competition is doing? If so, check out Google's FREE Search-Based Keyword Tool. Use this free tool from Google to generate a list of keywords found on any site, including your own and your competition's.

To use the tool:

  1. Click here to start the SK tool (www.google.com/sktool/).
  2. In the Website box, enter the website address that you want to analyze.
  3. Click Find Keywords.

You can sort by any column (click on the column name), analyze the results in a variety of ways, and even export the keywords found. The tool is optimized for use with Google's Adwords system, but it's great all by itself. (Note that it shows a limited list of keyword ideas, not every possible keyword associated with the site you selected.)

To learn about more tools for selecting Pay Per Click keywords, visit the Pay Per Click Insider Tips article titled "Five Techniques to Dominate the Long-Tail".

Posted by: Elizabeth AT 01:14 pm   |  Permalink   |  Email
Monday, August 03 2009

Google LogoDoes your business need a kickstart? Whose doesn't? Below are two FREE features from Google — the world's most-used search engine — that can help give your business more visibility. You will need a free Gmail (Google email) account to set up these features.

Add your listing to Google Business at www.google.com/local/add. This listing will help customers find you on Google maps.

Add your profile to Google at /profiles. This profile will help people find the right information when they search for you on Google.

Many thanks to Lorna Chehov for bringing these ideas to our attention.

Posted by: AT 02:00 pm   |  Permalink   |  Email
Monday, July 27 2009

 

Precision Computing Arts / Fastwebdev welcomes:

 

 

And we're pleased to tell you about some exciting updates to:

 

 Diva Matters Ministry
 Internal Infernom by Terrilynn of The Grand Galleria

Many thanks to our new clients and to our loyal long-time clients who have kept us busy with interesting projects. We are grateful to be a part of YOUR business and look forward to working with you in the future.

We're always looking for referrals, so if you are happy with our work, please tell your colleagues, family, and friends. We offer consulting fee discounts for every referral that becomes a client, making referrals a win-win for everyone.

Hey, Precision Computing Arts / Fastwebdev Clients!

Would you like to see your name on our Client News blog pages? If so, please submit your news by contacting us or by clicking the Comments link below.

Posted by: Elizabeth AT 03:31 pm   |  Permalink   |  Email
Monday, July 06 2009

Email can get tangled in a URL shortenerLong URLS — such as those that you copy from a browser's address bar and paste into email messages or print for later reference — can be difficult to pass along to others. They may break in email. They are difficult to spell out in conversation. They require error prone typing. Plus, they can be hard to remember!

Several "URL Shorteners" are available to help you convert long URLs into short ones, often with easy to remember and easy to type names. Examples of such services include:

tinyurl.com
memurl.com
bit.ly

and more. (To find more, search for the term "URL shorteners" in Google or another search engine.)

The problem with these services is that spammers tend to use them too! Recognizing that these shortened URLs could belong to spammers, today's spam blockers are more restrictive than ever. Often a perfectly legitimate use of a shortened URL in an email message can cause your email to be blocked as spam.

If you are using a URL shortener and people complain that they aren't receiving your messages, you may need to revert to using the longer URLs in order to get your messages through.

Another option is to ask recipients to put your email address on their email system's "whitelist" (a list of e-mail addresses or domain names that are trusted to not send spam). The spam blocker allows messages from the whitelist to pass through, regardless of their content and regardless of whether they contain shortened URLs. The technique for adding email addresses and domains will vary, depending on your email service. (This whitelist feature is especially easy to set up in the email section of our "Sitebuilder" build-it-yourself website service.)

Posted by: Elizabeth AT 10:19 am   |  Permalink   |  Email
Friday, June 26 2009

Our clients increasingly ask us to help improve their website traffic and pay per click results using Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and Search Engine Marketing (SEM) techniques. These techniques can require considerable time to master and not inconsiderable expense to implement.

One way we can help is by sharing the latest information and tips about current SEO and SEM techniques. Recently, we explored some tips from Google and received an email newsletter from PPCSummit containing information that we would like to share with you. Most of this information is written in plain English that even we can understand, so we feel it's worth passing along to our clients. We've summarized these articles below and provided links to the original material for your reading pleasure.

One more tip: Consider running ads in craigslist. Most craigslist ads are free, craigslist offers local classifieds and forums throughout the world, and Google indexes craigslist ads! >> more about craigslist

Google Webmaster Guidelines

This article from Google provides essential guidelines for: Website Design and Content, Technical Tools (for webmasters), and Quality. Implementing these guidelines will help Google do a better job of finding, indexing, and ranking your website. Among the most important are the Quality guidelines, which, if violated, can cause your site to be removed from or penalized in Google's index. >> read the article

Facebook Advertising (You May Want To Try It)

Facebook has nearly 200 million users, of which more than 100 million log on to Facebook at least daily. This article introduces Facebook Advertising, an increasingly effective way to reach Facebook's targeted audiences (which typically make impulse buys) and to increase brand awareness. The article provides helpful ad creation tips that apply to Facebook marketing as well as other contextual advertising such as Google Adsense. >> read the article

How to Train Your Visitors to Improve Your Conversions

Your website's landing page should treat visitors like untrained dogs that need clear guidance to get them to do something, such as buy your product or contact your company. The article explains how to find the competition's successful landing pages on the Internet and how to design landing pages for your own site that get more conversions. The acronym MORE ? which stands for Marketing Effectiveness; Offer Clarity; Readability of the Page; and Engagement with the Visitor ? is used to illustrate key points. The article also stresses the importance of testing and measuring the results. >> read the article

Five Ways to Maximize Your Pay Per Click Conversion Rates

Companies using Pay Per Click advertising (PPC) such as Google Adwords or Yahoo Overture know that every click from a sponsored search costs money that can add up quickly. This article explains five ways to communicate your message so that more visitors will turn into leads for your products or services. (Many of these tips will improve your website overall, whether you use PPC or not.)

1. Clearly understand your target market and the 2-3 messages you want to convey.

2. Make the landing page relevant to the link the user clicked.

3. Make the site design usable and readable, with a clear structure and easy navigation.

4. Include several ways to contact you.

5. Test your ads at least once a month.

>> read the article

Using Social Media to Discover Better Keywords

Social media enables companies to learn what's being said about their products and services in real time. This article discusses social media tools that can help you uncover keywords that can improve your Pay Per Click (PPC) campaign results and search engine page rankings. Tools mentioned include TwitterSearch, Collecta, Facebook Lexicon, and Delicious Tags; these can supplement more traditional methods for discovering keywords such as Google's Keyword Tool, WordTracker, and Keyword Discovery. >> read the article

"Killer Insider SEO Tips": How to Create Targeted Web Traffic in a Week

Need tips for getting targeted traffic to your website and converting that traffic to leads? This article includes four mostly free ways to begin, including:

1. Keyword research.

2. Using social media and building links. (Google's page ranking algorithm currently relies heavily on high-quality links!)

3. Using Search Engine Optimization (SEO) to build content-rich, keyword-rich copy and search-friendly websites.

4. Evaluating your competition.

>> read the article

 

Posted by: Elizabeth AT 08:00 am   |  Permalink   |  Email
Friday, June 12 2009

Welcome & Thank YouPrecision Computing Arts / Fastwebdev welcomes these new clients:

We're also pleased to have done website makeovers for these existing clients:

Many thanks to our new clients and our loyal long-time clients who have kept us busy with interesting projects. We are grateful to be a part of YOUR business and look forward to working with you in the future.

Posted by: Elizabeth AT 08:36 am   |  Permalink   |  Email
Thursday, June 11 2009

Our web hosting service has made it easier than ever to sign up for trial sites. So if you have any friends, colleagues, or family members who want to set up their own websites, please tell them about our free 10-day trial sites. They can sign up right from our home page at http://pcartsonline.com.

New accounts can sign up in either of two ways:

  • START button - For those who want to design their own site. The START button will take them through the design selection and account setup process.
  • Quick signup - doesn't require selection of a design. This is handy for people who are planning to have us custom design their websites.

Questions? Feel free to contact us.

Posted by: Elizabeth AT 03:49 pm   |  Permalink   |  Email
Thursday, June 11 2009

Our web hosting service has added some great new "Cool Tools" features. Customers who are hosted with Precision Computing Arts / Fastwebdev can use these new features to enhance their websites.

Not hosted with us? Contact us to see whether a website makeover or conversion to our user-maintainable system is right for you!

System Update: 4.14d - [05/29/2009] Summary of Features

Design

  • text/style preview on the color selection page
  • new backgrounds
  • color scheme generator updated - text/style preview & an option to set the background color
  • text & styles - pre-defined text styles optimized for dark/light backgrounds
  • footer style - option to customize the footer text/links and the footer menu
  • new designs in the design library
Posted by: Elizabeth AT 03:28 pm   |  Permalink   |  Email
Friday, May 29 2009

Introduction to Social Networking - Costco Connection - June 2009Page 22 of Costco's June 2009 Costco Connection newsletter features a good introduction about using social networking to generate buzz about your business. In a bad economy, social networking can get the word out about your business and generally does not cost you a dime -- just your time!

Here's a direct link to the article: http://www.costcoconnection.com/connection/200906/?pg=24&pm=2&u1=friend

Posted by: Elizabeth Olson AT 06:45 am   |  Permalink   |  Email
Wednesday, April 29 2009

Customers who are using a web hosting system provided by Precision Computing Arts / Fastwebdev will be happy to know about two new features:

  • Multi-Column Layouts for your interactive forms.
  • Default Product Layouts for your shopping cart.

These features are described briefly below. If you need more help, please contact us (normal hourly consulting rates apply).

ENJOY!

Multi-Column Forms
You can now set up multi-column forms using the form builder. Follow these steps:

  1. Create a new form or edit an existing form.
  2. Click the the "column" field type icon (see example below).
    Form Builder Column Field
  3. Enter a name for the column in the Label field of the Form Field Properties box and click Save.
  4. Move the field Up or Down to where the new column should begin.
  5. Save your changes.

To clear the columns and create a new row in your form, add the "column" field type and select the "clear column set" option in the Form Field Properties box.

You can see an example of a multi-column form on our Interactive Examples page.

Default Product Layouts
The new default layout feature makes it easier to manage your ecommerce product layouts. To take advantage of this feature, choose the default layout when creating (or editing) your products and categories.

To change the look of the default layout, simply go to the general store settings page and change the default layout. The appearance of all the categories and products that use default layouts will update instantly!

Before this update, you would need to edit each individual product/category to change its layout. You still can choose specific layouts for individual categories/products as needed.

To set up default product overview and product details layouts, follow these steps:

  1. Go to the General Store Settings section of your main store page.
  2. Set up the default product overview layout (for category pages).
  3. Set up the default product details layout.
  4. Save your changes.

To ensure that your categories and products use the default layouts, select the default layout when creating or changing the category properties or products. The default layout icon is shown below:

Default Layout

Posted by: Elizabeth Olson AT 12:46 pm   |  Permalink   |  Email
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