Congratulations to Lucketts Ruritan in Leesburg Virginia for winning the National Communications Award at the Ruritan National’s Annual Convention in Covington, Kentucky. The website was recognized for its creativity, page load speed, readability, graphics and level of information about the club displayed in a timely manner. As their web development team and hosting provider, Gallop Web Services is honored to be a part of the Lucketts Ruritan website success.
Ruritan National also awarded Lucketts Ruritan second place for its club newsletter, Lucketts News and Notes. Both the newsletter and web design are the work of Daydream Design. View the website live at http://luckettsruritan.org/
What if Google tracked your check out experience at the grocery store? Here’s an amusing video of how it might look from Google’s perspective. What this video demonstrates however, is how a poorly structured e commerce site ruins the user experience.
Windows XP is no longer supported and therefore is a danger to clients who still use XP. We urge you to upgrade your system to Windows 7 or 8. Now would be a good time to stop using Internet Explorer as well. Download Chrome, Firefox or Safari as your default browsers instead.
Why get ride of Internet Explorer? Personally, we have found it to be the bane of many a web developer. A website will look marvelous on any browser until you look at it in IE. With IE you have to jump through hoops to get the site to render correctly. A tedious process at best. In the beginning years of web design, developers agonized over getting things right. We’d tweak the websites to accommodate all the outdated versions of IE and then some. No more… we steadfastly refuse to dummy down code to the archaic versions of IE.
Web development aside, the main reasons to get rid of IE are to protect the user. Zachary Lukasiewicz created a compelling list of reasons in his LinkedIn article dated April 29, 2014. We totally agree with him.
The following news article appeared in the Leesburg Today, Loudoun Business News section, on November 7, 2013
Gallop Web Services: Helping Business Grow Online
Gallop Web Services is not your average web design company. Their philosophy is different—they believe quality is more important than volume. Customer satisfaction and education are paramount to successfully running their business. According to owner Kathi Watts, “We strive to wow our clients with our customer service and give them the tools they need to be self-sufficient when it comes to maintaining their websites and gauging results. If our clients are happy, they’ll tell others about their positive experience and we’ll get more business. The majority of our clients have been referrals, even some in other states and countries.”
It is common practice in this industry to bill for a new website or redesign and continue to charge for updates and ongoing editing, without any personal interaction with the web provider. “We don’t believe this is the way to manage client relationships,” said Watts. “We believe in being true marketing partners with them from the beginning of the relationship.” It was these very principles that led Gallop Web Services to be named Technology Business of the Year by the Loudoun County Chamber of Commerce, a title they hold until the first week of November 2013 when the next award winner will be announced.
The Foundation Behind Gallop Web Services
Owners Kathi and Steve Watts, have been married for 30 years and residents of Loudoun County for over 26. Like many couples in the technology industry, they met on the job. Kathi formed Gallop Web Services in 2010. Shortly thereafter, Steve left the corporate IT world to come alongside Kathi and take Gallop Web Services to the next level. Over the past three years, they have added to their services a robust search engine optimization package and local business listing offerings. They have enjoyed working together again doing what they both love, right here in Loudoun County.
In the four short years since they have been in the web design business they have seen a wide range of local and regional clients with whom they’ve established an on-going and satisfying business relationship. It is their belief that every client deserves excellent service no matter the size of their online business and what they provide is creative and helpful to the client’s success. The ability for a client to understand and participate in web technology for their business helps to alleviate the feeling of “being held hostage” by an industry where fees and billings are confusing and often not necessary. “Many of our clients think of us as their partners, which we are” said Steve Watts. “We greatly enjoy working closely with them as their expectations evolve and online interactivity continues to emerge as an integral component for businesses everywhere.”
Design and Enhancements for Local Business Mean Real Results
Gallop Web Services has been serving the online business needs of small and large businesses in the region since their inception.
In May 2012, Gallop Web Services worked with Loudoun Medical Group to re-launch their website LMGDoctors.com while also providing hosting and web support services. According to Mary Beth Tamasy, CEO, “Our new site now features an interactive ‘Find a Doctor’ tool, convenient on-line bill pay for patients, a unique mapping tool that allows our customers to quickly see the over 80 physician practice locations, and many other features built in for our staff who access information through a password protected portal.” Gallop said they were thrilled to build an amazing new site for LMG but the proof is also in the numbers. “Their online traffic has seen an overall increase of 41% compared to this time last year. The site has seen a 146% increase in people viewing the individuals physician’s biographies. People are looking into our Loudoun County doctors,” said Kathi Watts.
Gallop Web Services has also worked closely with Bonnie Sewell, Principal of American Capital Planning, a Loudoun County-based financial planning business, on the redesign of her website. Last year, Sewell started a new business entity and wrote a book to educate and financially guide couples who are already in the divorce process. According to Sewell, “Kathi and Steve did designs for both of my sites and I was thrilled with the results.” One of Bonnie’s requests was for Gallop Web Services to create an online calculator for Wedlock-Divorce.com that helps individuals get a better picture of their financial situation as they consider divorce. The addition of this tool on her website gives couples a reality check on how their money might be distributed in a divorce settlement. A glimpse of their financial circumstances has helped steer the conversation between Sewell and her clients.
Online Tips and Tricks to Make Your Site Work for You
According to the website Pingdom, there were 2.4 billion Internet users at the end of 2012 and a staggering 634 million websites. It is imperative that businesses no matter how small or large, put their best foot forward to capture even a small percentage of this amazing potential. According to Kathi and Steve Watts, there are certain things that business owners can and should be doing right now related to their online business marketing. They were happy to provide a short list of essentials for all businesses.
- Mobile Responsive Web Design. If you view your website on an iPad, Smart Phone or other device, does your site respond as well (or better) than it does on a desktop computer? If your site does not readjust to accommodate the current devices used by many on a regular basis, then you may risk the loss of potential customers.
- Online Visibility. Can your customers find you on Google? Type your company’s business name into the search bar on Google. Where does your business land on the list of results? How many relevant sites is your business listed on? By optimizing the search potential for keywords relating to your business, you can increase the marketing potential of your website and social media. The goal is to drive consumer awareness, get leads and make sales.
- Integrate. Link your company website with all your social media interfaces. Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIN are popular examples, but there are many more that may be suited to your type of business. Be sure your social media and website convey the same brand identity. Use a free service, such as Hoot Suite, to combine your social media so you can quickly post and communicate socially through a user-friendly dashboard.
- Blog. It gives you a great medium to share your expertise and keeps your website fresh. A blog also serves as a great partner to all other social media, and adds relevancy with the search engines. It is ideal to have your blog on your website, but there are several stand alone blog services that will do the trick.
- Keep it Fresh. When was the last time you refreshed the photography on your website? What about the content? Do you know how to go about editing the various areas of your website? Simple user-friendly tools available to businesses today make it possible to easily keep your website fresh and current.
Like many Americans, I too have gone onto the Affordable Care Act website to take a look at what all the fuss has been about. From a design perspective, things look pretty good on the front end of the website. It’s attractive enough and easy to navigate. It views well on mobile and tablet devices. There are plenty of pages containing information and answers to your questions. You can preview plans and prices to get an idea of the different levels of coverage offered in your state and county. But as a web developer, I’m more concerned about what is beneath the design inside the back end. Beyond the hype and the politics, there really is a good reason to be concerned about trusting this website with some of the most personal and detailed information of our lives. There are three key areas I personally have questions and concerns about:
Where is the ACA quality assurance? I think most people agree the website was probably not ready for prime time and the quality assurance is not topnotch. When I visited the website, I chose what I think might be comparable health care coverage my husband and I are already enjoying and chose to take a look at the Silver Plan. From what I could determine, we would be paying $300 more a month than we already are PLUS an as yet to be determined yearly out of pocket expenses. Don’t like that, but I’m willing to see details and make adjustments before passing judgment. To get more information, I had to create an account and delve into the back end of the system. I did that and didn’t like what I saw within three screen views. The amount of personal information that was requested was too much up front for my comfort and there was no incentive to give in to the request for more. I just wanted to look at their pricing, not share my entire life with them. I can shop for more details of a health care package in the private sector without having to divulge my name, address, social security number, etc. so I don’t understand why I’m not able to do the same through the ACA website. What else makes me hesitant is from what I’ve heard in the news–everywhere—the website isn’t holding up too well and people are getting 404 errors in the middle of their data entry. A Forbes contributor suggested yesterday the reason the website keeps breaking down is because the government doesn’t want to you to see the underlying costs. I don’t think he means to say the website is shutting down on purpose. Instead, the Forbes article goes on to explain the health care website requires the user to provide detailed information BEFORE you can start shopping. This means the system is overloaded with a bottleneck of information being compiled and returned to the view. It’s a lot to process, thus the 404 errors. I tend to agree with this theory. It’s unsettling to be in the middle of sharing your social security number and then suddenly have technical difficulties. I don’t trust this website just yet; therefore I’m not willing to divulge personal information. Sorry, but I’m not buying it (yeah, the pun is intended)…
What are the HHS numbers? Another thing that concerns me is Kathleen Sebelius, the U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services, said earlier this month she cannot gauge how many people signed up for Obamacare. Seriously? You can’t tell me a huge organization like this–one that has to be compliant, is consumer oriented, and has a political score to keep–does not have analytics in place to gauge the numbers. Either she is not being truthful about this, or her team is failing the mark by not tracking the numbers and keeping her informed. You can easily look to the private industry for examples of how a well done marketing campaign and sound ecommerce results in multi-million dollar sales within days. Of course, no one wants to tout negative success. But again… I’m not buying it.
What about security? Last and most importantly, is the assurance that our personal data is and will remain safe. I don’t think this can be said just yet. Computer security expert John McAfee dropped a bombshell on Obamacare enrollees when he warned everyone of the strong possibility of phishing scams tied to the Obamacare websites with no way to protect those who enroll from hackers robbing their bank accounts blind. “I’ll ask you your social security, your date of birth, [so] an hour later I can empty your bank account,” he said when interviewed. He went on to say, “And this is going to happen, it’s going to happen soon. Nothing in the Obamacare system safeguards against this,” he said. He wouldn’t use the system for himself anyway, but McAfee’s words of caution cannot be discounted given his expertise with computer security.
Not buying it… the way the website is working, the pricing, the health care itself. As a web developer, I feel the pain of the development team working on the ACA website and hate to criticize. But HHS rushed this through too soon and Americans can be harmed by the shoddy workmanship of the sign up system. Perhaps by the time my insurance expires in February next year, they’ll have solved the problems and I’ll feel more comfortable exploring government health care options. But for now, I think I’ll sit back and just wait and see.
Worldwide Google Trends show Infographics have gained popularity over the past year. The reason for their appeal is the efficiency, engagement and entertainment value of visual communication. As part of their marketing strategy, more and more businesses are using infographics to explain their products and services to their target audience.
SlideShare has now introduced an Infographics Player that makes it easier to share graphics on social media. SlideShare now supports documentation, presentations, infographics and videos. It’s pretty easy to use SlideShare and they offer analytics to gauge traffic, which is always a must.
WordPress continues to be one of the best blogging and web platforms around! It’s latest release, WordPress 3.6 (nicknamed “Oscar”) has a beautiful new blog-centric theme, bullet-proof autosave and post locking, a revamped revision browser, native support for audio and video embeds, and improved integrations with Spotify, Rdio, and SoundCloud. The release has been named Oscar in honor of jazz pianist, Oscar Peterson, who’s music is played in the release video shown below.
Sit back and view the short promotional video (which is quite good), enjoy the jazz, then check out our affordable WordPress services and theme designs.
We’ve heard from some people who use Gmail that they aren’t happy with the changes Google made back in May. For instance, the Google tabs… if you are not fond of the new tabs, here’s how to change them:
- In Gmail, click on the Promotions tab.
- Click and drag an email from the person whose email you want to move to your Primary over to the Primary tab.
- You will be asked if you want to “Do this for all future messages.”
- Click “Yes.”
OPTION 2: (turning this filter option off completely)
- Go to “Settings” [the icon on the top right corner of your screen above your inbox] and select “settings.”
- Click on the “Inbox” tab and “Unselect” all categories but “Primary”
- Click “Save Changes.”
For more details on Gmail’s New Inbox, view the video below.