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We ♥ Barrie, ON Small Businesses | Websites

Barrie Ontario Professional Website Design

Your one-stop-shop for professional web design and technical projects, we at AMP’D Interactive Studio have what you need to get your small business website off the ground and running. With an intimate team, we successfully becomes an extension of the small business’s in Barrie that we work with, introducing inventive new ways to drive both satisfaction and performance through individual, hand-crafted projects unique to your brand alone.

Our combined expansive repertoire of experience means you don’t have to spread yourself thin looking to different companies to take on the various challenges of branding your small business with a professional logo and getting an online presence with creative website design. The AMP’D Interactive Studio team has the perfect skillset to accomplish everything a small business in Barrie needs, from web designs that incorporates mobile platforms to SEO and marketing through various social media channels. Such excellence has given us the chance to work with such companies as Lucifora Planning and Design to bring their complete visions to life.


Looking for just a single service? That’s alright, too. We can put together a package specially tailored to your Barrie small business individual needs so that you get exactly what you need to better your brand. No matter what area of the digital or tech market it is, you can rest assured you will receive only the best Website in Barrie and area has to offer.

Located only an hour north of Toronto, AMP’D Interactive Studio is proudly nestled within the city limits of Barrie, Ontario. A sponsor of Georgian College’s Graphic Design program, we support higher education and help foster future design talent, helping transform Barrie into the web design capital of the province.

Keep your startup design needs simple with Barrie web design and AMP’D Interactive Studio’s ability to take all of what you need and transform it into one project. Unity is pivotal to guaranteeing your small business’s needs grow through our dedication to exceeding expectation.

Monetizing on Mobile is More Important Than Ever

Barrie Web Design - Mobile Smartphones

My goodness, does the web ever change quickly? Even on mobile. It’s hard to believe that almost a year ago, Facebook earned no income from users on mobile. Currently, Facebook shares have soared since their launch of mobile advertising that’s now seamlessly integrated onto the “news feeds”. The beauty of the new Facebook ad strategy is the continuity of the ads being inserted between entries on the users news-feeds that contain regular posts from friends or the brands that users are already following. Users tend to check in on Facebook several times a day. With an audience of over 1.15 billion, this translates to excellent exposure.

With an audience of over 1.15 billion, this translates to excellent exposure.by Amy Coulson

Mobile Ads are a Balancing Act

The ads are indeed unobtrusive. Yet, it’s still attention grabbing because the new ad model is massively HUGE. Marketers can get very creative with all that screen real estate. Plus the content is targeted to the audience’s interests, which means that the users eyes will be drawn to the ad if the algorithms did a good job playing matchmaker. The ads are also tolerable because it only shows up on the news-feed about 5% of the time. This formula works well because the rest of the news-feed is so engaging.

There’s Still Room for Growth

Statistics from Hot Hardware have shown that ad revenue skyrocketed 75% in just three months. It’s hard to believe that a business that employs less than 1000 employees can rebound from their seemingly failing growth and failing ad monetization. Facebook really hit the mark on this one. If we had doubt in Facebook being able to capitalize on mobile advertising, I think they have really vindicated themselves as a solid business.

Still Questionable? We’ll See

The only question here is whether or not these ads will continue to thrive in its current state for the next couple of years. This concern stems from the users who seemingly click on the ads because they are being perceived as normal content. Hannah Kimuyu’s research shows that, “44% of you would ‘never’ click on advertisements or sponsored listings in Facebook”. To those who do click on the ads, was it accidental due to how seamless the ads are integrated? In any case, Facebook is attempting to advertise in a better way in a way that users may find useful products or information.

No Ad Money? No Problemo! Bootstrap Your Way to Online Success

Barrie Web Design - Google Algorithm Pie Chart

Introduction

Solopreneurs or small business owners can keep your advertising money in your pocket. Not every business can afford to hire a marketing consultant. Need not to worry; this article will help get you started on some of the most important aspects of marketing in the digital landscape.

Compelling content

Whether you blog or not, it is vastly important to generate quality content that relates to the industry. It should be updated often, for maximum freshness. Nandita from SEO Hour says that “informative and compelling content retain visitors for longer and improve bounce rate.” The informative content also helps boost your authority on the topic.

Nothing beats stories written directly from your customers about your company. Stories humanize a company. Sites need to have a real person behind it. Google favors individual authors who interact with others in their own niche with the ability to build relationships.

Natural SEO for Long Term Results

However, as great as that content is, it needs readers to read it. “Long Tail” keywords matter most! Content needs terminology that potential readers are searching for; otherwise you’re not going to be found.

Gavin Turner, founders of Mainsail Partners, explains that “SEO is the practice of improving the content and structure of your website to make it appear prominently in free organic or non-paid search results.” So, the best way to research keywords that fits into your content is through the Google Adwords Keyword Tool. Think of all the different ways your audience will type in to search for you. The more specific, the better the results. That way, your readers can find you by doing searches with the language they use.

Time to Get Social

It doesn’t cost a thing to create company pages or social accounts. It is worth investing some time in this marketing gold mine. The ultimate goal is to generate brand awareness and building a community of a loyal fan base. Be present, engage people and provide value by sharing a useful article that you or others have written about. When the reader is ready to purchase or user your services, a clear call-to-action on your site will be readily available. Just be sure to include your website information on your social bio.

Email Marketing Campaigns with Mailchimp

A lot of people tend to check their email inbox several times a day, especially since it’s so easily accessible on mobile phones and tablets. Give something of value. Don’t just sell, sell, sell. They reader will just delete, delete, delete. Let them in on a special promotion, give away a free eBook or pdf, run contests, anything with an engaging call to action to increase click through rates. A nice branded design will help keep your audiences attention. A great tool to use to create beautiful email marketing campaigns is with Mailchimp. It is a fantastic service and it’s free to use until the email list grows to 2000 subscribers. Choose from a large list of pre-designed templates and customize it until it suits your content. Literally saves a lot of time. The results are highly professional and at no cost until you grow your list of subscribers.

Connect with Online Influencers

“Digital influence is the ability to create an effect, change opinions and behaviors, and drive measurable outcomes online,” Technopedia explains. It is important to research that the online influencers are because there was a lot of effort and time spent into building a loyal following. Their audiences trust them. Identify who the influencers are in your niche. They will already have a large following. Join the discussions only when you have something of value to add. Also, connect in different ways other than social networks, such as their blog, forums, or email. Partner with them by giving away free stuff to build brand awareness.

Conclusion

These may be no cost solutions, but with anything – nothing is free. The cost of time may be high, but by being diligent and consistent, all of that hard will pay off.

Extended Screen Exposure – 3 Health Effects

Barrie Web Design - Extended Screen Exposure

I know that many of us who work in computer related fields tend to forgo exercise and taking care of yourself.  Don’t wait till it’s too late.  Here are three health effects to consider:

  1. Mind can be overtired due to sleep deprivation. Our generation is being kept awake from instant messages, and staying up late at night using smartphones and laptops. It’s disruptive to our sleeping patterns due to the light from the screen. It basically tells your brain to stay awake.
  2. Nutritional deficiency is a common problem. Convenience foods can keep us at our computers longer. It is becoming harder and harder to take ourselves away from the screen. However, a lot of takeout and packaged foods contain a ton of sugar. Studies have shown that controlling blood sugar, even in non-diabetic adults, can help prevent deterioration in a part of the brain that’s necessary for memory formation.
  3. Lack of exercise may sound impractical when you have low energy levels to begin with. Exercise helps to increase blood flow, which in turn, helps reverse some of the age-related decline in brain function. What’s good for the heart is good for the brain.
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Graph Search Optimization (GSO)

Barrie Web Design - Facebook Graph Search

HOW TO USE FACEBOOK GRAPH SEARCH AS A MARKETING TOOL

People visit Facebook for social reasons. It’s not a place where visitors like being interrupted with companies trying to sell to them. With Facebook’s Graph Search, you’re able to find the ultimate fans that like your page in a certain geographic location and bring them together. Graph Search is the latest search feature and is a fantastic way to explore and understand the interests of your audience. You can then leverage this information about your core fans and followers by reaching them in new and unique ways, based on their trending interests.

On Facebook, you get more biased results. This is a good thing. What makes Graph Search unique is its search functionality. As Rob McBroom from Pronto Marketing explains, Graph Search enables“natural search queries to return results”, as opposed to keyword-based searches. Say, you are looking for a plumber in the area. Only on Graph Search can you type, “Show me all the plumbers my friends like.” It’s a great way to find a business you can trust based on the recommendations of your friends. What’s different is that the results are personalized to you, based on you and your friends.

HOW BUSINESSES CAN BENEFIT

It’s still important to cultivate a base of actual fans. The more connections that you have as a small business, the wider your reach will be. Ramon Ray from PCWorld, points out that Graph Search “is likely to bring consumers. Rather than having to wait for a customer to recommend your company, you may find that searches are naturally leading new customers directly to your Facebook page.” This is really good use of data that Facebook has accumulated, as it helps you target specific people according to the prospect’s particular desires. Matt Ramos from LocalVox suggests that “adding the highly personalized data from Graph Search on top of local brand marketing, and you’re dealing with a powerful advertising tool in your arsenal.” He indicates that local pages pull in five-times the marketing reach.

GRAPH SEARCH OPTIMIZATION TIPS

Be Visual. Post status and comments with photos and videos to see increased ranking and engagement levels. A great tip that Jess from Image Works Studios suggests is to make sure you page is attractive. “When people start finding you via Graph Search, you’ll be ready to make a terrific first impression!”

Be Engaged. Creating events is another way to cover more Graph Search real estate. By regularly hosting events, whether online or in person, a business can gain some great visibility in the time leading up to that event. Events can be created around an idea as well. For example, choose an afternoon where participants avoid eating red meat. Creating events requires a bit of creativity, but it could have a strong impact. Another engagement tactic that Jim Yu from Search Engine Land suggests is to “post updates that elicit Likes or Comments, ask users to share or tag photos, etc.”

WHAT ABOUT PRIVACY?

According to Brittany Darwell of Inside Facebook, “Graph Search respects the privacy of each piece of content, that users never see photos or other information they don’t have permission to see.” That may be the case, but it can be a little frightening if you don’t know how to alter your privacy controls. Want to keep creepers at bay? For content you don’t want everyone to see, edit your Basic Info and set your privacy controls to “friends” only.

CONCLUSION

The web is becoming more and more social. Graph Search is learning as much about users as possible, thus enabling the ability to give users a personalized experience. Understanding Graph Search is especially important to SEO marketers because it really sets the stage for what the future of SEO/GSO can hold.

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Pinterest for Businesses

Barrie Web Design - Pinterest for Business

Pinterest isn’t an all-or-nothing for the digital marketer.  It is another social tool that allows people to use a different way to find and engage with your products or services.  This new social network is one of the fastest growing websites in history; therefore, the hype surrounding Pinterest should not be ignored.  The visual aspect of this site is what attracts businesses, especially those who have a portfolio of work or a product catalog.

In order to get the most out of Pinterest, I will discuss what Pinterest is, why you should use it as part of your digital marketing strategy, how it can be used to help drive traffic to back your website, and how other businesses are using Pinterest successfully.

WHAT IS PINTEREST?

Pinterest is a visual social bookmarking site that lets users share photos and videos that they find on the web.  Pins can be setup in separate boards, which can then be categorized and sorted.  Users can follow other Pinterest users and boards.  Images from other websites can easily be pinned using the“Pin it” task bar button on your browser.

WHY IT MATTERS

Pinterest is very popular with huge traffic going on in the site.  Lots of people are using Pinterest, so it is in your best
(p)interest (pun intended) to utilize this visual bookmarking site to lead potential clients to your website.  As Betsy Kent points out, “website owners are seeing a huge uptick in referral traffic from Pinterest which is great for SEO on your site.”

Pinterest Infographics

HOW TO USE PINTEREST TO DRIVE TRAFFIC

Long Skinny Images

Google keywords search is not the only way people are finding products.  They are finding products through referrals, blogs, what they see and stumble on by coming across it through social networking sites.

To use Pinterest effectively, you must engage with your audience to get the best results.  The idea here is that you’re not always just promoting yourself, but you are engaging to position yourself as an authority utilizing visuals as your storyboard.

Along with images, Pinterest uses very minimal text, maximum 500 characters to be exact.  HubSpot Social Media Scientist Dan Zarrella found that from 11,000 pins, “the most re-pinned and commented on items were accompanied by descriptions ranging fro 200-310 words.”  This is important to think about when you are describing your pins.  It’s a balancing act between being concise, having SEO friendly keywords, and using language that customers understand.

Consider re-imagining your product photography from an artistic yet professional perspective. Focus on designing taller images by combining several images together to enhance the story of your product.  Don’t have a physical product?  Infographics are all the rage.  They are eye catching and informative, making them ideal for pinners to repin.

When people pin from Pinterest, it usually comes from the source.  Pinterest
will send you directly to the site from where it was pinned.   Create a call-to-action with a “Click Here” button or a “Repin This” button.  Find ways to integrate text on the images to tease people into discovering and sharing your product or service.

Don’t just use it as a self-promotion tool.  A useful tip from Houssem is that “whenever, you find something interesting on the web that your Pinterest followers might find helpful or enjoyable, don’t hesitate to post it there.”  This helps build a strong following that can help you gain attention.

CASE STUDIES
Starbucks is touted as having an excellent digital marketing strategy. Currently, their Pinterest account contains seven boards that attracted over 87,000 followers. Their boards contain amazing lifestyle imagery with the majority sourced from third-party sites. In contast, Walmart currently hosts 83 boards with just over 23,000 followers with the majority of the boards containing their own product line.

Pinterest Starbucks

Pinterest Walmart

CONCLUSION

Pinterest is very different in the ways that a brand can engage.  It’s important to give something great for people to pin and share without spamming others with pins of only your own products.  With great product/lifestyle photography as well as compelling calls-to-action, Pinterest will make a great addition to your digital marketing strategy.  You will gain recognition and traffic as a reward.

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What the %*#@ is UX Design?

Barrie Web Design - UX Design

Introduction

UX (User Experience) Design is not yet a formal field. Most people who go into the job come from a visual design perspective. These people understand color, shape and form. But it’s much more scientific. There must also be a technical background (how computers and different devices work). The person must also be able to research and get into the headspace of the user. There is also the physiological perspective to consider. How do peoples’ eyes work? Where do they tend to move their eyes on a site? Good user experience is extremely powerful. Have you ever heard someone saying,“Technology and me aren’t friends” Well, how can we turn that person into being able to achieve a task easily? Why should you care? Read on!

Why Should I Care?

Websites are just like any other product or service. It’s an experience. That experience has to be something that the user enjoys using, sharing, endorsing, and most importantly, returning to. If it’s difficult and unpleasant, they won’t come back. “You cannot bore people into buying your product,”David Ogilvy advises. Customer loyalty is often proportionate to how visually appealing and, more importantly, easy your website is to use.

People appreciate good experiences and have esthetic values whether they know it or not. A great real world example is Apple. From the moment a customer walks into an Apple Store until the customer sets up the peripherals at home. The packaging is well thought out and the devices are beautiful. People are proud to put them on the table and will brag about the product/brand.

Information Architects (IA) vs. UX Designers, What’s the Diff?

Circles of Information Architecture

via ASP I.T.

IA’s are responsible for ensuring the information of the site makes sense from a user’s perspective. There is a lot of behind the scenes work, such as the overall organization and content on a website or mobile application. It’s the act of organizing content in a logical and non-overwhelming way. If done well, users will never notice that an IA was ever involved. This is a classic diagram in the field of user experience – Peter Morville’s The Circles of Information Architecture, taken via ASPE I.T.

So, here are some examples of the things that work together to make up a site’s information architecture:
• Navigation
• Breadcrumbs
• Sidebar Menus
• Footer Menus
• Headers and sections and content blocks

UX designer may suggest a more creative job description as opposed to an Information Architect. A UX designer creatively leads a brand experience rather than focusing solely on the organization of information. Darren Northcott of UX Booth explains, “User Experience takes Information Architecture as its foundation and brings it to the next level.”

Web Design vs. UX Designers, What the Diff?

Web Designers generally create simple, yet visually appealing, 3-5 pages of brochure type design. It’s limited in interaction. There could be some animated elements using advanced CSS3 and jQuery, but these are still considered as visual elements. Matthew Magain, co-founder of UX Mastery says that“once a site requires additional complexity, take into account the psychology and behavioral issues facing the site’s users, or the best practices derived from the UX body of knowledge.” This will help deliver the best result for your client. Contact forms are considered an interaction. The user may get a thank you message. It may direct the user to a different page upon submission of the form. Web design is the foundation for UX design and forms are just the beginning.

A good example of a UX designed website that have multiple interactions is Expedia. A user can pick a date range, pick a specified time, select an airport, and much more. You are then taken to a loading page and then different prices are displayed. There is just so much information on these sites that good UX will help guide a user where to go. Otherwise, it’s just one giant mess of information.

How to Become a UX Designer

UX is done by incorporating information that is gathered about the users in a variety of ways, as well as incorporating knowledge about human computer behavior in general, and mix all that information up together and strategically plan out the feature and get it added to the website.

Excellent observers make great UX designers. By watching how people use and interact with different websites, explore new and interesting sites and doing research will help a UX designer develop great interactive websites. Finally, being able to merry strong visuals with the understanding of psychology, physiology (the way the eye moves across pages) and technology together will be much more valuable to future employers.

Conclusion

As you can see, users can experience satisfaction or even joy through great UX design. On the other hand the user can easily become frustrated, confused, or make the decision to stop using the website. Winnie Ho of DevFacto explains that, “user experience is the way a person feels about using a product, system or service”  If they’re unhappy enough, they might tell their friends. If they love it enough, they will more than likely tell their friends. It’s probably safe to say that UX design is uber important.

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