Canada’s 150th Birthday

  • -

Canada’s 150th Birthday

Years ago friends of ours brought a CD to our cottage and we listened, for the first time, to this traditional and light-hearted song written and sung by the Arrogant Worms…  Hope you enjoy the song.

StudioIMI has been in business since 2003 and has worked with over 300 clients across North America. Our areas of expertise include: retail, B2B, franchises, hospitality, tourism, industrial, commercial and recreational. We have built web apps and help clients market their business.

Please contact us for more details.

250-580-5250

projects@studioimi.com


  • -

Happy 150th Birthday Canada

CANADA-FLAG-634x312

At StudioIMI, we have been busy.  Part of our workload in 2017 has been the release of our new application Show Me The WiFi.  This great web-based app allows Victorians and visitors to track businesses that provide free WiFi.

You can take a Pedicab, walk, drive, bus or cab20170410_120520 around Victoria and our map provides free locations for you: restaurants, stores, galleries, tourist attractions and more.

If you are looking for free WiFi, you can download this free app by going to www.showmethewifi.com and checking out the Map of nearly 1000 free WiFi locations in Victoria alone

Canada_day_celebrationsIt’s an amazing time to be in Victoria for Canada’s 150th Birthday. Those of us lucky enough to call this home enjoy everything that is available to us.  You may be visiting Victoria for the July 1st weekend or meeting up with friends. Either way we hope you take advantage of the large number of things happening in the city.
Tourism Victoria has a link to everything you want to see…

www.tourismvictoria.com/events/canada150/

StudioIMI has been in business since 2003 and has worked with over 300 clients across North America. Our areas of expertise include: retail, B2B, franchises, hospitality, tourism, industrial, commercial and recreational. We have built web apps and help clients market their business.

Please contact us for more details.

250-580-5250

projects@studioimi.com


  • -

Why You Should Skip The Templates and Get A Custom Website!

catdesktop

If you’re building websites, you’re part of the new raging trend. In fact, the landscape of the internet is littered with pre-fabricated templates that all have an alarmingly similar look. While using a builder is fine, if you’re writing a blog about the adventures of your cat, and the website is chic, modern and serious in tone, than it’s more than possible that you need to reconsider your entire web design. Your website is no good if it can’t convey the message you want.

There is much more to building a website than just installing WordPress and downloading a theme. You’ll find that some website builders will claim to aid in SEO placement, charging you more to throw in maybe one or two “keywords” which is virtually insignificant. A programmer who know’s what he or she is doing can and will provide powerful SEO optimization that will ensure your website is easily found among search engine results. This is crucial if your website is a business and needs to get its products seen amongst the rest of the pack.

You’ve probably seen those entrepreneurs that attempt to take the easy way out by using a service such as Shopify to run their business. One thing I’ve learned is that these platforms can “nickel and dime” their customers to death. When you first start an online business, every single penny needs to be stretched. But with pre-fabricated business “stores”, there are far too many things that need to be paid for. The initial cost of set-up gets combined with transaction fees and separate credit card fees plus fees for extra apps or plug-ins that are touted to help your business grow bigger.

Services like Wix sound great on the service, promising modern coding solutions with the ease of plug and play methods. However, what they fail to tell you is that you are then tied to a specific host and transferability can sometimes be quite the pain in the keister. By hiring a professional web designer and having the job done right the first time, you can ensure that any future moves of your custom website can be at your choosing any time at all.

Let’s take a look at a newcomer to the realm of DIY website building, Squarespace. They boast a “one size fits all” approach to website design that may be appealing if you don’t have the time. If you’re looking for a serious business though, you should think again. The problem with the “one size fits all” approach is that it assumes that you and your competitor want the same thing, it doesn’t allow for individuality, or company identity. Yes, it does work when you’re using the website to run a hobby, or if you plan on selling knick knacks for side cash from your garage.

By all means, if running a website is a mere hobby, then use a website builder. If you are gunning on being a major player in your field, it is necessary to hire someone with the experience and the know-how to make it happen for you. Your business isn’t just like all the others, so why present a website that looks like all the others?


  • -

Is WordPress Good for Web Design?

wordpress

If you know anything about web design and websites, you know WordPress. Many people don’t realize how long it’s been around for. From it’s launch in 2003, WordPress has caught on as one of the easiest and most user-friendly applications for web design. Of course it didn’t start off being the best, it used to be a blog creation tool! Now its current incarnation is a premier website design platform. WordPress is among the leading web design solutions in the industry today, to put it in perspective, 27% of the internet is powered by WordPress. TED, NBC, New York Observer, Times.com, CNN, all of these organizations are using WordPress to fuel their website, so it might not be a bad idea to jump on the train if you haven’t already.

So where’s the catch? As far are we are concerned, there isn’t one if you don’t want it. WordPress is relatively free, and by relatively, I mean if you aren’t buying themes or plugins created by other developers you’re good to go! Luckily there are a lot of themes available for free. The CMS (content management system), is free, allowing you to create and manage your digital content. Taking advantage of WordPress and it’s free options relieves you of having to cough up money for something you’re not yet acquainted with and may have a fear of trying in the first place. You might be put off by having to design your own website because it’s too difficult, or spend a lot of money and  time on a project that you may not know the full scope of. WordPress allows you to tinker at your own pace without the stress on your wallet when you’re not ready for it.

There are thousands of website plug-ins that can be activated and used by simply clicking the mouse. Whether your site is just a simple contact form or you’re looking for an ecommerce store, the easy to navigate plug-ins will allow you to fill your needs. Not a coder? Since there are approximately 16,000,000 websites powered by WordPress on the internet, you can expect a large community dedicated to helping each other out by recommending plugins, themes or troubleshooting help.

webtrends

 

For those that are more experienced in the realm of web design and internet usage, one of the most exciting aspects of WordPress is the fact that it’s open source and not beholden to corporate or other commercial interests. It can be altered or tweaked in any way possible, limited only by the imagination of the budding programmer or developer. Don’t see a theme you want or need someone to filter out the best for you? Take an existing theme and hire a local web developer to fill out the rest of your needs, whether it’s making it into a responsive theme, or having an added feature.

Speaking of features, WordPress makes SEO easier to use by having a build in area where you can place keywords. It will automatically solve most keyword issues so your website can be ranked more easily by search engines.

All of these factors are strong arguments on why you should use wordpress as the initial solution to getting your website up and running. With easy to use plug-ins, feature-rich templates and themes, and a dedicated community, we recommend you give it a try.


  • -

Launch of Show Me The Wifi Application

Hello Victoria,

We are very proud to announce the latest in innovations from the combined efforts of StudioIMI and Custom Coding Group.  Our two companies have successfully been partnering for over 18 years and this application is expected to have excellent, long-term reach in the Victoria market.

Show-me-the-Wifi-Logo-RGB

We bring you our Show Me The Wifi application.

This fantastic application provides visitors to Victoria with the tools that “map” out many local, free wifi locations. This is a chance for Tourists and Victorians alike to be able to travel through the city and find the great businesses that offer products and services, sales and other deals.

44734612 - talking brainstorming communication friends concept

If you can access the internet, you can download the application on to your device (smart phone, tablet, computer). Then, you’re ready to take advantage of the free wifi throughout the city as you travel by pedicab, bus, taxi, car or even by foot.

48619323 - whale watching tour from fast zodiac boat near husavik, iceland
We are a team of experienced web professionals and business owners involved in the tourism industry in Victoria.  With more than twenty years of working knowledge of Victoria developing websites, social media and on-line marketing, we have what it takes to support this service in the city.

If you are a business owner in Victoria and want a simple and innovative way to draw clients to your location, please give us a call 250-580-5250 and we can explain how the service works.   We are a part of Tourism Victoria so you can see how we are building leads for local companies. Check us out at the Cruise Ship Terminal (in season) as we have our advertising on a few Victoria Pedicabs.

This is an absolutely great way to spread the word.  All it takes is for tourists and Victorians to load our program, look at the map and they have access to free wifi, city-wide.  You may be in hospitality, special events, galleries, walking/boat/helicopter tours, restaurants or retail.  This service can work for just about everyone.

View our on-line Map of free wifi locations throughout the city.  Visitors from cruise ships, Canadians travelling here from outside of Vancouver Island or even our good friends from the USA, Europe and Asia can use this guide to help them navigate the city.

Show Me The Wifi is one of the most advantageous ways for you to learn about the city, take advantage of specials and deals and utilize free wifi at the same time.

www.showmethewifi.com to use our free application.


  • -

Launch of Heart in Hand Books

Category : Blog , Entrepreneurs , Web Stuff

At StudioIMI, we are very pleased to announce the launch of a new website we have been designing over the past several months.

www.heartinhandbooks.com is a new publishing company and the premier book release takes on a very delicate situation that impacts so many of us. Author Jeanne Sedun is no stranger to thissubject and offers some powerful messages of compassion in handling life and death.

From her website bio:

“Jeanne Sedun believes there is a better way to navigate the end of life journey.  Drawing on her training as a teacher, project manager and Protestant minister, she creates a roadmap for supporting a loved one facing a terminal illness. Jeanne treats this difficult subject with honesty, sensitivity and clarity”.

“She has a unique combination of practical writing and communication skills, the ability to challenge and inspire, and compassion for others”.

We are very pleased to have played a part in the website and the development of Jeanne’s publishing company, Heart in Hand Books.

Jeanne proudly lives in Victoria, BC with her family and enjoys life to the fullest. Check out this website and if you know anyone looking for some guidance in their life, please consider picking up a copy of this book.

Buy the Book Online‎ or Read a Sample Chapter

StudioIMI is a web development and internet marketing firm. We have been providing clients right across North America with our services since 2003 and continue to expand. If you should like a straight forward consultation on your own website, please contact us.


  • -

SEO is More Important Than Ever – Here’s Why

1

In today’s digital jungle, we understand it’s easy to get lost in a maze of irrelevant search engine results or high-tech keyword stuffing techniques. We get it, jargon is jargon and at the end of the day you want results, not just fancy phrases. Still with this in mind, some questions should be obvious. This is why most web design experts say the question “is SEO important?” serves as an oxymoron.

For the newbies reading this, “SEO”, short for “Search Engine Optimization”, is the process of getting traffic from organic search results on search engines. Trust us, as easy as this sounds, there is  actually a coded set of rules, a special algorithm that drives this process, instructing the search engines on how to find a website. The goal of anyone who designs, maintains, or owns a website should always be to have that website be easy to find. What does this look like? Your website being in the first page of search engine results, and more impactfully, the first five listings. This is vital because most casual web cruisers are unlikely to click or browse beyond that first page, in fact according to a study conducted by the University of Twente in the Netherlands, up to 91% of searchers don’t go past the first page. A staggering 50% of searchers don’t even go past the first 3 listings. That’s why it’s imperative to be “ahead of the pack”, so to speak.

2

Search engines are becoming more sophisticated by the day. Out are the days of lacing keywords through a website, despite being irrelevant, in the mere hopes of getting picked up by search engines. This tactic is fading fast, so if this is you, I suggest upping your game. You should also know that you’re risking being penalized by the biggest search engines. This can lower your ranking or even outright block your site, which means the only way to find it is if your customers type in the complete correct URL.

So how should you be optimizing your site? Be aware of the type of customers you’re attracting (build your buyer personas) and optimize it appropriately. For example, your clientele is local, eco conscious young adults; advertise where you’re from, sell your neighbourhood. If you’re designing a website aimed at Americans but written in Swahili, it’ll be a disaster. You should also be using common wording that the general public is accustomed to. While you could certainly refer to a “visual entertainment unit”, most people would simply call it a tv.

One of the best ways to optimize a site is to leverage the strength of incoming links. This refers to outside sites that’ll link to your site. The importance of the quality of your external links cannot be understated. It’s necessary that only trusted sites link to the site as much as possible and sub par links, such as those originating from link farms or link directories be minimized.

The importance of quality content, featuring results and information that search engine users are actually looking for is king in today’s world of SEO marketing and social media referrals. It has often been said that “content is king”. Keywords and the quality of the your content will set you apart, and will garner the attention that it deserves, bringing more traffic to your site.


  • -

5 Signs That It’s Time for a Website Redesign

Category : Web Stuff

If you’ve read my last blog, you’ll have learned about some basic areas to work towards in achieving website optimization. This should help you understand what to look for when you hire a web designer. If you haven’t, let’s go back and start there.

In the competitive business climate of today, where instant access to information is expected, an outdated website (I’m talking the popular late 90’s, Arial text, mismatched block photos with a basic sidebar) won’t cut it.  You might be thinking “What does he mean by outdated?” since technology is advancing by leaps and bounds, one person’s version of cool and trendy might be another person’s tacky. I do want to emphasize that just because your website plays music upon first loading and has flashy neon colour buttons, does not mean it’s up to date.

1

Your competition, the ones we are really worried about, have a solid web presence. Having your website outdated is dangerous, it serves as a significant liability that can result in missed opportunities and repel potential customers. However, it’s difficult to know if your website is doing the job. To take a step back and look at your online presence objectively and critically is hard. Much like being able to identify your own areas of weakness.  I’ve put together a list of 5 signs that might indicate when you need to consider a website redesign.

You Don’t Remember When You Got Big Traffic Last

Let’s face it, your website sucks at selling. If you don’t remember when the last surge in traffic was, or you haven’t been identifying these trends, that’s a serious red flag. Imagine your website as your 24/7 storefront. It’s the place people go to when they can’t reach you on the phone, the first impression when someone refers your business. Your website is your help desk, so ask the serious question. Is it helping? Determine whether it’s doing its job by evaluating how it’s being used by visitors. Do a competitive analysis to analyze metrics like site session duration, website conversions and form submission numbers. It’s also important to check the site’s search engine ranking for the most important keywords. A company’s website should help to build its bottom line, and the metrics listed here should significantly contribute to revenue and lead generation. If you don’t know how, you should check out Google Analytics, familiarize yourself with what you need and think about how you might want your next website designer to incorporate analytics into your website. Remember, if your website doesn’t have anything to offer, your customer retention will decrease.

2

It Doesn’t Reflect the Company

A site is the company’s biggest chance to send a brand message. Merely adding the corporate logo to the website header isn’t enough; real integration involves incorporating branding through elements such as design, color, brand voice and typography. A company’s website should portray its values and tell customers how it’s different from the competition. It should answer customers’ questions while providing a user friendly experience. Let’s go back to the storefront analogy. When you walk in, you meet the staff, they’re smiling, you have atmosphere, you immediately have a sense of what to expect prior to buying the product. Maybe you see the wall of photos showing smiling managers. If your website doesn’t show your mission, vision, or list your execs, it might be time you showed a little bit of yourself to your audience in order to facilitate transparency. With that being said, make sure your website isn’t all about you. It is your chance to let customers know that you can provide solutions to their problems, and you’re the best choice.

You Still Have Ex Employees On There

Businesses grow and change, and an outdated site’s web content might not just convey the wrong messages about a company, but will also make you look sloppy. It doesn’t take much to update your website’s content. Editing a web page is quicker and simpler than updating print materials, but busy companies often push web updates to the side. Copy can be updated to fix problems. The site owner should also examine the site map to ensure that pages are logically organized. Depending on the website’s age and platform, updating the informational architecture could be harder than starting with a clean slate. If you don’t know how to edit your page’s content, or can’t do it on your own without calling up your web designer it might be time to talk to someone else about having a CMS.

Even Google Can’t Find You

If a customer can’t quickly and easily find a company’s site in the first few search results, they will go elsewhere. Multiple factors can determine a site’s SEO level, and coding characteristics form the baseline for performance. Optimized content is crucial, and pages need good meta descriptions, descriptive URLs and alt text. A site without such back-end capabilities will likely have lackluster SEO performance and lose a portion of their market share to other, higher ranking companies.

3

Your Original Designer was 100% focused on creativity

I mentioned this briefly in the introduction about flashy entrances, sounds and buttons. Bottom line is, if your original web designer was focused solely on creativity, it’s not going to cut it (also it’s tacky don’t do it). In a survey conducted by HubSpot, 79% of users stated that the most important aspect to a website is its usability.

4

Yes, you might have fell in love with that flashy enter intro, but you can also have that as a video, not as an autoplay. Not only does this deter potential leads, it’s also slow, and an outdated trend. Not to mention it doesn’t show up on ipads, and iphones, that’s 38.3% of all wireless Canadian subscribers. Oh, and Google Chrome doesn’t like it either. In fact this month, Google is implementing HTML5 the light -weight, plug-in free default alternative to Adobe Flash, entirely disabling Flash in hopes of deterring the usage of the plug-in altogether.

5


  • -

Increasing Your Website Traffic Might be Easier Than You Thought

Category : Blog , Brand , SEO , Web Development , Web Stuff

I can’t begin to count how many businesses and entrepreneurs I’ve seen suffer because of a poor website. Having a poor website will reduce your referrals and sharing rate, but it can also repel customers, driving them straight to your competitors. We often say first impressions are the most important when meeting someone new. It helps us form our initial judgements, and as much as we hate to admit it, helps us access preconceived notions so we can make quick decisions on whether or not to pursue. Time is valuable, this is human nature, so it makes sense that the same logic applies for businesses.

However, when a business does make the decision to make some changes or do a complete Website redesign, the trackable changes, the ones you want to see as a result of your money spent, are still likely not seen. Despite the many insufferable hours of group meetings, consults, and research, you’re left with questions like “I just spent $5000 at an agency and my inbound is only slightly better, what’s the deal?”.

So how do you ensure that the changes you’re making to your website, and the money you’re spending for this process will actually improve your inbound? The answer lies in knowing what to look for.

We want you to understand what goes into website optimization, and how it, well, “optimizes” your website performance. We believe in wholehearted transparency, so instead of just handing over a lump sum of money and getting a pre-packaged deal, we start by cultivating a customized marketing plan driven by your unique business needs way before the coding even takes place. So let’s start by sharing what you should look for in website optimization.

Socialize Your Website

One of the most powerful ways to spread the word about a particular website is through advertising. A more specific method of advertising and arguably a more effective tool is utilizing social media networks. You’ve might not have heard about it, but this new platform has already garnered 1.79 billion users and remains as the largest social network today; Facebook. Just kidding, of course you know, but I write this because I still see businesses without Facebook pages and it astounds me. Next in line for second largest is YouTube and so on and so forth. It may seem redundant to keep up with the latest social media hype, but being on top of the trends gives you an advantage. If you can get to your audience before your competitor, chances are you’ll have a higher shareable rate (i.e. online referrals!). Social media provides you with an affordable (free) way to advertise. When you are looking to optimize your website, make sure that you have clear distinct buttons linking to your social media pages.

download

Responsive Design

Do you ever try to open a website on your smartphone or tablet and the buttons are all of a sudden crammed into one corner? Or maybe the textboxes are covered up by the stock photos and you can’t actually press preview on the item you’re interested in purchasing and it drives you crazy. Chances are if you weren’t familiar with that website prior to this experience, you’ll click out of that website and try it somewhere else. A Responsive Web Design (RWD) allows desktop webpages to be viewed in the size of the screen or web browser that you are viewing with. The design is essentially responding to whatever device you’re using. This is fundamental given that 87% of people across 11 advanced economies including Canada and the United States use a smart phone. Without a responsive web design, mobile visitors are sure to get an unpleasant first experience.

responsive design

Fast Loading

So you’ve opened up a new tab to check out a website recommended by a friend, it’s a responsive web design so it fits well on your phone. The only problem is all the photos are white, and the loading animation goes on for about 2 minutes. You shut it down, load it back up for a second try, same thing. You’re late for work so you’ll check it out later, but you forget because we have busy lives. Something that will ruin expectation on virtually any website is a web page that loads slowly. That’s why having a website that is technically optimized will not only make the website experience a good one, it keeps people coming back. It may not seem like a huge deal, but the fact is people can and will stop visiting a website if the site itself is routinely slow when loading. By setting up a revamped website for faster loading time, the site will foster more visitors.

loading

Encourage Feedback

One of the good things about a new website and social media sites is that it can help patrons to interact with the business. Facebook pages give customers or potential customers a chance to ask questions and get responses from the business. In addition, with forums or message boards on the actual website, a business can achieve a new level of communication with their client base. Whether it’s actual customer services issues, or perhaps it’s just chatting with visitors to a message board or a Facebook page, it’s an excellent way to drive more traffic to a website.

The bottom line is research needs to be done prior to changes being made to your website. You need a solid understanding of what you want and how to get it before relying on someone else to do it for you. This will save you a lot of wallet ache later. There are plenty of other means to improve the number of visitors to a website gets, as this blog only covers the basic. However, whether you follow these tips, or you include them with other information and advice, you’ll be well on your way to completing your website optimization with strong numbers of targeted website traffic.

pagescomments


  • -

Business Tips – Think Long-term

Category : Web Stuff

One of the most interesting presentations I heard in my career came from Terry Mathews back in the days of Newbridge Networks.  In Kanata, Ontario, Terry was a very successful entrepreneur having built Mitel and created Newbridge, both in the telecom market space.  He owns golf courses and numerous businesses in Ottawa and globally.

During Terry’s opening remarks, he asked the audience of business executives “to think like the company you want to be, not like the company you are”.  This was very useful to an entrepreneurial group.  The message was to always be thinking ahead. It was a lot like a game of chess where you have to be planning several moves ahead. It’s the same with running a business.  You can never really be in the moment as a Leader. You always have to be thinking about your next moves.

Terry Mathews helped numerous entrepreneurs create companies out of the Newbridge embryo.  In Kanata, he is respected as a tough businessman who has had great success and is forever looking for the next venture.

StudioIMI was started over thirteen years ago and was based on the premise of thinking ahead.  As an entrepreneur, Craig Montgomery has created several business start-ups and dealt with hundreds of clients in similar positions.  The words of Terry Mathews are timeless.