Posts Tagged ‘website redesign’

8th Wonder Redesigned

Wednesday, December 22nd, 2010

8th Wonder Spice

I’ve been terribly remiss in not announcing Venuecom’s completion of the redesign of 8thWonderSpice.com, which is, in my opinion, one of the nicest sites we’ve built recently.  (And, also in my opinion, that’s saying something.)  I’ll chalk it up to Christmastime busy-ness, and I don’t mean shopping.  We’ve been crazy busy lately.

At any rate, 8th Wonder started off as a very simple website several years ago.  The owner just wanted an online presence, not much more than a holding page, so he got a website with his logo at the top, a patterned background and a few pages.  I meant to save a copy of it so I could do another before-and-after video, but I didn’t manage to grab it in time.

Anyway, 8th Wonder was ready to start making a big push and needed a more professional design and the ability to sell their product online.  We wanted to build on the branding established in the company’s name and the beautiful (seriously, very nice) tins the spice comes packaged in to create an old world feel for the website.

Aside from the upgraded design, the 8th Wonder Spice website features a growing list of recipes with which to use the spice and an also-growing list of retailers where you can purchase the product.  If you’re unable to buy find a local retailer, you also have the option of buying the spice or refills (because seriously, the tins are nice and you won’t want to throw them away) online.

Check out the site and feel free to leave some feedback in our comments section.

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Causes and Solutions for Slow Websites

Thursday, August 26th, 2010

Does it take forever to load pages on your site?  Does it feel so much like you’re on dial-up that you can almost hear the modem noise?  In case you forgot (or you’re too young to remember), here it is:

There are a number of reasons your website could be running slow, even if you’re on a high-speed internet connection.

Slow Server

This is something you’ll have to discuss with your hosting company.  There are a lot of different reasons that a server can be slow, but there’s not much you can do about it if you’re not a server admin.  In the interest of brevity, I’ll just say that if the server is the issue and your hosting company can’t do anything about it, it might be time to search for a new website hosting company.

Large Files

In particular, I’m talking about images.  I’ve probably seen hundreds of websites where someone uploads a full-size digital image and then uses the image properties to shrink it down.  Sure, the image only takes up 300 x 200 pixels on the screen, but it’s actually a 3000 x 2000 pixel image scrunched down to that size.  Unless you change the size of the before you upload it, it’s still, in reality, a really big picture, and a big, full-quality picture is always going to take a lot longer to load than one that has been optimized for the web.  And when you try to create your own photo gallery of images that haven’t been optimized for the web, you’ll definitely feel like you’re back in the dial-up age.  Besides, a scrunched-up image looks terrible compared to one that has been properly optimized.

There are a few of options you can use for resizing a picture prior to uploading it.  There are lots of programs out there, such as Photoshop, GIMP and even MS Paint that easily take care of resizing picture.  There are lots of websites out there too.  Just do a search for image resizing and you’ll find plenty of them.

Another option is to see if your web designer can install a program that will resize the images for you automatically when you upload them.  For example, if you use our ecommerce solutions and upload a category or product image, we can set the parameters of the uploader to set the image to a specified height and/or width.

While I’ve mainly focused on images here, you could have the same issue with any sort of media such as Flash, music or videos.  Remember that the web, as nice as some things look on it, is geared (at least for now) towards low resolution.  For example, a client of ours recently sent me an audio file of a radio commercial she wanted to play on her homepage.  I noticed the large file size, re-sampled it to a lower quality and cut down the file size by about 75%.  And you know what?  It still sounded fine on her website.

Just remember that in order for your page to load fast, you’re going to want to make all your files as small as possible while still maintaining an acceptable quality.

Coding

This ties into my last point, to a degree:  The smaller the size of the files on your page, the faster it will load.  By that same token, the smaller your page’s file size, the faster it will load.  You’ll most likely have to talk to your web designer about this, but optimizing your code includes such things as converting the site to CSS, linking to external files (such as one consolidated CSS file and one consolidated javascript file) instead of coding them directly in the page and reducing unnecessary white space in your code.

Of the three suggestions I gave, the one that will usually make the biggest difference is converting a site to CSS.  Now, I don’t want to get into a CSS vs. tables debate, but the fact of the matter is that a site using pure CSS is going to have a lot less code than a site using tables, so it’s going to be faster.

The problem that a webmaster will sometimes run into in telling a client that they need to optimize their code is that a client won’t see a difference in the site, so some website owners are hesitant to shell out the dough necessary for a website coder to spend hours on updating their site’s guts.  Cleaning code isn’t sexy, but it can be extremely effective in speeding up a website.

Making sure your site loads quickly will not only make your website visitors happy, but it will make Google happy as well.  Search engines put a premium on sites that are quick to load, so it can also push your website up in search engine rankings.

If you have any questions about how to go about doing some of the things I mentioned above, feel free to leave a comment below, contact us or send us a Tweet.

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AttyDC.com Redesign

Monday, July 26th, 2010

Wilmington NC Lawyer - Attorney David Collins

Venuecom and Impulse Web Designs teamed up to redesign www.attydc.com, the website for Wilmington, NC Lawyer, Attorney David Collins.  The client’s original website was designed from a phone book ad from six or more years ago.  Obviously, styles have changed since then and our first mockup was much more modern; a little too modern for Mr. Collins, who wanted to update the look, but keep it familiar.

The challenge was this: the existing website already ranked at the top of Google for the search term Wilmington NC lawyer, but it was not converting, so one of the points we emphasized in preparing this project was that the look of the site needed to be modernized and more engaging in order to hold the attention of visitors and thereby convert more traffic into leads.

Collins was pleased with the second mockup by designer Travis Ray.  We feel he designer tasked with this challenge did a great job of meshing the old, outdated look with a more modern, pleasing style in the second mockup.

In addition to aesthetic updates, over 200 unique pages were added to the site to help search engines index key service areas and locations targeted by the client.  Links to the client’s Twitter and Facebook accounts were also added and a WordPress blog is slated to appear soon in order to increase the site’s social media presence.

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