Build on Your Own Time & Space...
Since we launched DMXReady CMS v3, we're hearing that one of the great things about DMXReady CMS v3 Suite, is that you can build your new website on the same server as your current website - without ever having the two interfere. That means you can build on your own time, and you don't have to play around with sandboxes or secondary server/domains. When you're ready to go, just switch one file and your new site is live.
You can also build a second product-or service-specific website to complement your old one, all on the same Windows server, and all without a conflict. It's a web developer's dream...
Polls are a great way to get the pulse of your customers, find out what they like and don't like, and collect other information to help make your website - and your business - more valuable to them.
But polls can be difficult to create. Besides the challenges of writing the questions and possible answers (there is a knack to it), there is the whole business of coding the poll itself or finding a third-party app.
We've found a quick and dirty way to create a simple poll with no coding required using Google Docs.
Google Docs, as you likely know, is like an online and free "Office"Âť environment with a word processor, spreadsheet application, Power Point-like presentation builder, and other web-based applications. One of those other applications is a form builder which allows you to enter a list of questions and a number of different ways for your respondents to answer like text, multiple choice, or choose from a list.
Once you've finished the poll, you can publish and either post the link or embed the whole poll directly into your website using iframe (see below). It will even automatically update your own back-end spreadsheet as the submissions start rolling in. You can save this data as an Excel file, CSV, or one of several other file formats. From there, you can manually import to your database, if need be.
As easy as it is, there are some rather severe limitations to this method. You can't change the design beyond flipping between a number of templates - in other words you can't match the look and feel of your own website. If you're planning to use the information in a database, manually importing the data from your poll can get messy too. Then there's the issue of using iframe to embed the poll into your website if you don't want to send your website visitors away from your website to fill in your form. We don't mind using iframes from time to time, but there are some out there who do, and might not want to take this approach.
If these are issues for you, another great option is DMXReady's own Polling Booth Manager. This plug-in application doesn't have these shortcomings: you can change everything down to the code level so that the design matches the look and feel of your own website (in fact, with DMXReady CMS Suite, you can simply plug it right in with a little bit of coding. All the data is stored automatically into your database, and the iframe issue becomes a non-issue too.
But if you're looking for a fast and easy way to get a poll up and running, and these issues aren't deal breakers for you, try the forms for yourself and find out how they work for you.
The DMXReady Team
Is your website outdated?
If it is, you could be in serious trouble. Sales will decrease, if you are selling products. Phone calls will decrease if you are selling services. Link juice will decrease, if you’re selling (or giving away) information.
Think about it. How do you feel about visiting an outdated site? Will you be willing to buy their products or services? Probably not. The reason is that we need some level of trust, especially from people we don’t know (and may not even live in our city) before we’re going to plunk down money on something they say they will deliver.
If we don’t have that trust, we won’t do it. And the outdated site is one clue that something might not be quite right…
This isn’t just a slow erosion either – like the “broken windows” theory, you could find your business going south right quick.
It’s easy to see on other people’s websites that they are in desperate need of an upgrade. It’s always more difficult to see it on our own sites, simply because it is hard to be objective about it.
However it can be easier if you break it down into some simple “it is, or it isn’t” features that can help you decide whether or not it’s time to update your website.
Broken Links – If you have links on your website to other sites, periodically go through and make sure they are all working. Some people assume that visitors will let them know when a link is broken. Chances are, however, they will not. Dead links could lead to dead sales for you.
Your Top Selling Products or Services Aren’t Featured – If you are known for your purple widgets, but all you can see on the first page is yesterday’s red widgets, there could be a problem. Worse yet, there are products or services on your website that you no longer offer. Make sure your website reflects your business.
Your Portfolio is Old – Do you have sample projects dating back to the 1990’s on your website? Not only does this show neglect, people might start to wonder what you’ve been doing all these years! Update your website to include your most recent projects, and even feature one or two on prominent pages like your Home page, About page, and blog.
You Are Getting Fewer Visitors (and Conversions) – Check for these signs: a drop in website visitors, a drop in conversions, a drop in time spent on your website, a rise in your bounce rate – these can all point to dated content and/or design. It can also be a sign that Google is dropping you in the page rankings. That’s never a good thing, and you want to stop that from happening now. A redesign and some basic SEO techniques will help keep Google AND your website visitors happy.
Your Website, Well, Just Looks Outdated – You’ve seen those vintage websites, haven’t you? Old designs are easy to spot a mile away... unless it’s your own. Ask some trusted colleagues, friends, and family (yes, in that order) to take a quick peek and offer honest feedback. Better yet, hire a web professional to do a full website review for you to point out where your website is lacking. (DMXReady offers this service here… http://www.dmxready.com/?product=project-scoping.)
How about you? What turns you off from a website and makes click the “Back” button faster than you can say “The X-Files”? Click on the Post Comments link above and let us know!
If there is one thing about web design that is consistent, it’s that it is always changing. We’ve seen quite a few trend shifts over the last decade or so. It used to be things like the introduction of CSS that really influenced change. Now, it’s user experience (UX) and a “back to basics” approach that is taking the main stage.
In fact, if you take a look at design going on over the last year or so – and design predictions – there is a definite undercurrent towards minimalist websites.
Check out this latest prediction, for example. http://blog.websitetemplates.bz/website_templates_news/web-design-trends-2010-2011-in-bright-examples.html
In this list, there are definite examples of “busy” website designs, especially in the retro and hand-drawn sections. But the rest points to a simpler, easier-to-use website. Things like bigger logos, more use of fonts as a design element, and especially the use of white space all underline this minimalist approach.
We think this is certainly a trend that is going to continue through 2011. The goal of many websites is to get the visitor to do something – sign up for a newsletter, contact the company, or buy a product. As we’ve all learned from designing landing pages, the easiest way to do that is to get rid of the clutter and focus the reader on one or two main points.
Is minimalism here to stay as a “design principle” or is this a passing fad?
Like all areas of design, fashions come and go. We’ve been in the game too long to say that minimalism is falling into the realm of “must haves” in design. Besides, there are many instances – magazine-style websites, for example – where minimalism just wouldn’t work.
However, we do believe that the days of “filling the website page” are gone in every instance. Minimalism serves a specific purpose for many web designers, namely keeping website visitors focused, so it will likely be part of every designer’s repertoire for certain websites.
In any case, we do believe the minimalist trend will continue to grow as a purely fashionable design style through 2011.
For more examples, go to:
If you sell a lot of different products, you know how difficult it is to organize everything in one convenient online location. They need to be organized in such a way that your website users can still find you – and there might be too much to fit into a standard nav bar.
This is where a “Mega-Menu” can come in handy.
As the name suggests, a Mega-Menu is a big collection of links to your pages, displaying as one full-screen (or at least large) list of links as opposed to many dropdowns. In fact, it is probably closer in comparison to a site map than an actual menu bar.
However, just because you have more room doesn’t mean you should just throw every link there haphazardly. You should still take care to organize your links well so that the website visitors can still quickly find what they are looking for.
For example, if you are selling menswear, use a bold title for SHIRTS and then underneath list T-Shirts, Dress Shirts, etc. PANTS, Jeans, Dress Pants, etc. etc. The idea here is to ensure that you do not overwhelm the visitor, but organize the menu in such as way that people can find what they are looking for “at a glance” as much as possible.
Mega-Menus will probably help your SEO as well; like a site map, it is an easy way for Google to find and index your pages.
Since a picture is worth a thousand words: Vanderlay Design has a list of some great Mega-Menu samples to peruse. Don’t forget too, if you are creating a new online store, check out DMXReady Catalog Manager to make backend work even easier.
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