Unique Website Design – Fun to Build, Beautiful to Use

unique website design - african gemstonesWe enjoy the work we do for all our website clients however we sometimes have the pleasure of building a truly unique product site that offers a niche service. An example of such a website project is African Gemstones. This particular site is ecommerce specializing in the sale of precious and semi-precious gemstones in the rough. This means the stones have not been polished and set, and basically come straight from the mines in South Africa. People who are interested in gemstone rough would be jewelers and occasional hobbyists. It was so interesting to learn about a product we know nothing about and incorporating into the website beautiful photos of South Africa taken by co-owners Logan and Carolyn Cutshall on their various trips to South Africa.

african-gemstones-product-table-afterOne of the special touches we applied to African Gemstones is a table display layout of the gems. It is user-friendly providing a scrollable view of the gemstones by category. The purchaser selects any and all gems and can go straight to checkout, if they so desire. Quick, easy, and attractive to use.

Best of Loudoun 2016 Nominee

Best of Loudoun 2016 Web Design & Development Gallop Web ServicesGallop Web Services has been nominated for Best of Loudoun 2016 in the Web Design & Development category. This year, Best of Loudoun 2016 is being promoted by Loudoun Times Mirror giving their readership a chance to vote for their favorite businesses in Loudoun County.

Our thanks to those who nominated us for this honor. To take the poll, go to Best of Loudoun online ballot. Please consider voting for Gallop Web Services in the Web Design & Development category.

Best of Loudoun 2015 – Website Design & Development

Leesburg Today Best of Loudoun 2015 Gallop Web Services Design & DevelopentGallop Web Services is pleased to announce we were chosen Best of Loudoun 2015 in the professional services category for Web Design & Development. The contest was held by Leesburg Today for their readership to vote on their favorite businesses in Loudoun County. Our thanks to everyone who voted for Gallop Web Services. Congratulations to the other businesses who were selected. View the entire list of winners at Leesburg Today.

Website Wins National Award

Lucketts Ruritan Wins National Communication Award 2014Congratulations 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/

Say Goodbye to Windows XP and How About Internet Explorer Too

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.

gallop web services - say goodbye to windows explorer please

Time for the demise of Internet Explorer

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.


Leesburg Today – Loudoun Business News

The following news article appeared in the Leesburg Today, Loudoun Business News section, on November 7, 2013

Gallop Web Services: Helping Business Grow Online

Leesburg Today - Gallop Web Services - Web Design Firm that Stands Apart from Others 11-7-13

Kathi Watts of Gallop Web Services works with a client at her office in Leesburg.

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

Gallop Web Services owners Steve & Kathi Watts - Helping Business Grow Online

Gallop Web Services owners Steve & Kathi Watts

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

Leesburg Today article on Gallop Web Services November 2013

Read the Leesburg Today article

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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.



If We Built a Website in the Private Industry Like the One for Healthcare.Gov, We Would Be Fired and Possibly Sued

affordable-health-care-act-websiteLike 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.

Sources: Forbes http://tinyurl.com/mbrulyk, Christian Science Monitor http://tinyurl.com/nxdobhc, and Washington Post http://tinyurl.com/lfnc8c9

WordPress 3.6 Release

WordPressWordPress 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.



Start Off the New Year with a Stronger Online Business Presence

When business owners discuss Search Engine Optimization (SEO) with us what they are basically saying is they want to bring people to their website “now!” and it doesn’t really matter how they get there. Well, it does matter “how” you get people to a site and it also matters “why” you are trying to drive them there in the first place. If visitors go to your website and aren’t satisfied with what they find there then they don’t ultimately become customers. And getting customers is what the SEO game is really all about.

Heading into 2013, here are 5 current trends to consider with regard to your website and your overall on-line business presence.

1. Do you have a Responsive Website? – New to 2012, a responsive website is designed to adjust itself to size when it is viewed on a wide screen monitor, iPad, laptop or smart phone. You can check to see if your own website fits the bill. How? View the website on your computer screen, click to minimize the screen and then click and drag the sides of your browser window to resize the website’s width. If the website still looks good, and is easy to read and understand, then it is probably adequate for today’s web design standards.

2. Consider a Blog on your website – a blog is a great way to start a conversation. If you have ideas or knowledge to share with others why not put it on your own website to attract potential customers? You’ll build your online credibility with not only people, but the search engines as well.

3. Use social media and tie it to your website – If you own or manage a small business and are not using social media, then you are missing out on one of the most cost-effective tools available for promotion, branding and customer service. Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Pinterest, etc. are all free and user friendly. At the very least, every business should have a Facebook company page! After setting it up, link your website the Facebook page and/or use a widget to feed the posts to your website for viewing.

4. Get on LinkedIn – every businessman and woman should have a LinkedIn account. It’s free networking!

5. Optimize your online presence as much as possible – perform a Google search on your business name to see if and how it is listed. Review the search results to see what’s what then take steps to build or improve your online presence. If you have a storefront, claim your local business listings and optimize the information with more details—business hours, logo, videos. Consult a professional to optimize your website for higher technical functionality, analyze keywords in the content, and increase visibility with the search engines. To see examples of online business listings, do a Google search on “Gallop Web Services, LLC”.

Business Branding – Website / Facebook / Twitter

As part of a business marketing strategy, it is important to create a consistent brand and a comprehensive online business presence. The business website and social media should complement each other and display the same logo and marketing message. Feeding Facebook posts and Twitter feeds into the business website not only looks good, it communicates to your target audience through multiple avenues and optimizes the website with the search engines.

Below is an example of how Gallop Web Services created a consistent brand for LifeChange, LLC using their website, Facebook  page and Twitter profile.

LifeChange, LLC Website

Lifechange, LLC Facebook Business Page

LifeChange, LLC Twitter Profile