On Milwaukee Website Design
From the Independent providers of precision website design and Internet marketing services for Milwaukee, Waukesha and southeastern Wisconsin.

Upscaling Web Design

Follow The Money

Be prepared for the reality that high-end clients and customers will be reading your website on a bigscreen HD monitor, not an iPhone 5.Today let's turn web design upside down. I'm going to talk about what often seems to be the forgotten half of the viewport family - bigscreens and large laptops. Their pageview share approaches 50 percent, among all Internet-capable viewing devices. But they are rarely talked about nowadays in my circles, in the mad rush to scale websites down to fit little tiny phones.

The second half of the 2010s brought about a mania for mobility. Google gave it a big shove with it's declaration of "mobile first" as the prime metric in its site-ranking algorithm. But not everybody got on board. There are still millions of non-mobile websites out there.

Their owners have a theory that if people want to visit their site, they should use "a real computer," as one gentleman put it to me. He had a giant, insanely complicated homemade site built almost entirely with raw PHP blocks. When he learned what it would take - and how much money - to convert that antiquated behemoth to a modern CMS-based responsive website, he said no thanks.

It was not an insane point of view. He had his reasons. For surfing the Web many folks in fact prefer their big laptops and desktop monitors to a tiny smartphone only 350 pixels wide. Viewportshare data bears that out. Snapshots of global website traffic reveal that phones account for about half of all pageviews. But bigscreens come in a strong second at about 46 percent. Tablets claim a very small segment at just 4 percent. These proportions appear to have attained long-term stability.

The very strong and resilient showing by bigscreens will surprise a lot of people reading this, but it's well known by industry insiders. If so, the question becomes: Why do so many websites look terrible on modern HD flatscreen monitors?

It's all about shortcuts. The easiest way to mobize a website is to center all your content in layout, including (and especially) any images, eschewing the use of tabular columns. With the aid of some elementary media queries and CSS code, websites designed this way are simple for browsers to squish down.

But when you scale them way up, it ain't pretty. Now you know why you see what you see when you encounter all these sites which are hard to read on your desktop monitor and generally resemble child's toys. The developers did it the cheap and dirty way.

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Normalizing The Vocabulary of Web Design

No Geek-Speak

Jargon-free website design services.

You're in business, maybe shopping for a Milwaukee web designer. You don't speak a word of Geek. Why, then, are people like me talking Geek at you on their websites? I really don't know. It doesn't make sense. They must be assuming that you're a marketing director or IT person from a big company. Folks like that do at least know enough Geek to pay the rickshaw boy and order the Ming Chau Singha Dofu.

At www.javelincommunications.com, we never assume any insider knowledge on the part of visitors. Sitewide, we bend over backwards to avoid Geek speak. If there's absolutely no way around it, we try to explain it in clear, simple terms. See, just like you, I gag on jargon. My eyes are just as apt to roll back into my skull. I've always had this violent reaction when people make things more complicated than they need to be.

Exalted Internet Babble: No Way to Talk to Web Design Customers

There's a lot of that in this industry. Sometimes it's deliberate. Using exalted babble is a time-tested strategy for putting forward oneself as a brilliant sage who possesses infinitely valuable secret knowledge. If you make what you do sound magical and mystical, won't people pay more? And is it not also a means of gaining and holding power over others? Think back in history to all the secret technical societies, starting with alchemy.

Most of the time, though, I suspect the failure to communicate is unintentional. People are trying hard; they just don't know how. They have advanced technical training, but little training in how to effectively communicate their knowledge to people from other walks of life. Nobody ever taught them the art of translating. On top of everything else (forgive me) they may have an autistic streak.

I know how frustrating this can be for you the customer. There's no easy way to address it industry-wide, however. I suppose I could offer a class in people skills for geeks. Lord knows where that would lead. As the proverb says, the longest journey in the world begins with one step.

Alas no, this little rant of mine can't change the world. But maybe I can improve our little corner of it. When Javelin strays off-course and inadvertently starts talking Geek to you, do us a favor and call us out. Help us stay true to our commitment to always give it to you straight, in plain English.

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How Branding Informs Web Design

Why Not 'Web Branding?'

'Web design should be thought of as part of brand development.'

People in my business talk about web design as if it were a separate, distinct, stand-alone profession. One that invites wild, almost garish creativity. To the point that you see crazy calls to action such as "Let's get funky." It's true that today the graphic possibilities are limited only by the developer's creative imagination.

But here at Javelin we believe that raw creativity must be rigorously disciplined. Because "web design" in fact belongs to a long-established, mature marketing discipline called branding.

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The New Mandatory: Responsive Design

Get Mobile Or Go Home

Worldwide sales of tablets will top 100 million this year. Next year, if the trend continues, tablet sales will surpass notebook sales for the first time. Right now among US mobile subscribers, smartphones outnumber cell phones. With young people leading the way, the way we use the Internet is changing at lightspeed.

Enter the new "mobile-responsive" web design. Pioneered by Twitter, this amazing new technology allows construction of websites that work equally well on all handheld Internet devices. By automatically detecting which kind of device is querying the site, the site cleverly resizes the layout. It's based on a dynamic grid system operating behind the scenes of the desktop view of your website.

We're talking universal optimization of the viewing experience. On any device, wherever there are bars, the site will be easy to use with a minimum of resizing, panning and scrolling. The secret? A fluid layout system which sizes elements proportionately, in percentages, rather than absolute pixel measurements. As an added benefit, pages load faster, and overall functionality improves.

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Don't It Yourself

'Im Kicking Myself Now'

Should you build your own website?

Should you hire a web design agency or should you attempt to build your own website with one of the cheap template systems out there? Here are my top ten reasons to go with a pro.

1) You have no idea what good looks like. You haven't studied web design. You have no professional experience and no clue how to tell an effective website from an ineffective website.

2) You're not creative. Creativity is an innate gift which can be cultivated but not taught. You don't have it if you didn't gravitate toward one of the creative professions.

3) You don't know anything about marketing and branding unless you've studied it rigorously or have acquired training on the job. You have no idea how to most effectively position your product, relative to the competition, and sell it to customers. That you think you know, when you have zero distance from the problem, ought to give you a heart attack.

4) You don't know anything about SEO and digital marketing unless, again, you've studied it rigorously or acquired on-the-job experiential training. After you've built your website, you have no idea how to rank high in the major search engines. You also have no idea how to leverage social media to get found.

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Sometimes, You Want Professionals

Hire A Web Pro

Sometimes you need an Internet marketing professional.

With all the cheap options for building template-based do-it-yourself websites, why have it done professionally? I'll boil it down to just two words: "distinctive" and "effective." Those 20 total characters are the difference.

Let's take on Wix websites for a moment. To my eye they all share a generic look. You don't have to look inside the source code to know that you have landed on a Wix website.

As opposed to that paradigm, a custom website will look "distinctive," conveying the idea that your company offers a completely unique value-added proposition. There's no one else quite like you. You are in a class by yourself. Your competitors? A bunch of third-rate wannabees.

You're a future Milwaukee web design customer of ours if you place a value on distinctive. If you don't think that being distinctive matters enough that you are willing to pay for it, you'll go to Wix.com right now.

Be aware though that their websites are not free, as the ads tout. You'll be paying $50 a year for a site that's wallpapered with Wix ads. So really, at the low end of the price range, you are renting space on an Internet billboard. Ad-free Wix websites start at about $110 per year.

Right now, the only add-on app is an e-commerce module. Serious business users will go with the so-called "unlimited" plan at $150 per year. First-year domain fees are covered, but you will pay for subsequent renewals.

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