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Why a CSS Website Layout Will Make You Money

web devlopmentWeb DevelopmentAlthough CSS layouts have been around for years, they haven't become so commonplace until recently. This was basically due to limited browser support (especially from Netscape 4) - nowadays though, CSS 2.0 (which introduced positioning) is compatible with over 99% of browsers out there (check out the browser stats over at http://www.thecounter.com/stats/2004/August/browser.php).

So, why should you convert your website from its current table-based layout to a CSS layout? It'll make you money. Simple really. And here's four reasons to explain why:

Reduced bandwidth costs

Web pages using CSS for layout tend to have much smaller file sizes than those using tabular layouts. It's not unusual to see reductions of 50% or more in file size when switching from tables to CSS. Smaller file sizes obviously mean reduced bandwidth costs, which for high traffic sites can mean enormous savings.

The main reason for this dramatic decrease in file size is that presentation information is placed in the external CSS document, called up once when the homepage loads up and then cached (stored) on to the user's computer. Table layouts on the other hand, place all presentation information inside each HTML, which is then called up and downloaded for every page on the site.

Additionally, CSS can be used to replace JavaScript image rollovers, again allowing a large reduction in overall page size. See the article, CSS navigation menu for more on this (http://www.webcredible.co.uk/user-friendly-resources/css/css-navigation-menu.shtml).

search engine optimization rankingSearch Engine OptimizationA higher search engine ranking

A CSS-based website will appear higher in the search engine rankings for three reasons:

  • The code is cleaner and therefore more accessible to search engines
  • Important content can be placed at the top of the HTML document
  • There is a greater density of content compared to coding

A higher search engine ranking means more site visitors, which, provided your website is usable, should lead to an increase in enquiries or sales.

Faster download speed

A faster download speed will make you money? Well, yes. Slow download speed is often cited as one of the biggest usability complaints for websites. A faster download speed therefore leads to increased usability, and a web usability redesign can increase the sales/conversion rate by 100% (source: http://www.useit.com/alertbox/20030107.html).

CSS and HTML codeCSS and HTML CodeCSS downloads faster than tables because:

  • Browsers read through tables twice before displaying their contents, once to work out their structure and once to determine their content
  • Tables appear on the screen all in one go - no part of the table will appear until the entire table is downloaded and rendered
  • Tables encourage the use of spacer images to aid with positioning
  • CSS generally requires less code than cumbersome tables
  • All code to do with the layout can be placed in an external CSS document, which will be called up just once and then cached (stored) on the user's computer; table layout, stored in each HTML document, must be loaded up each time a new page downloads
  • With CSS you can control the order items download on to the screen - make the content appear before slow-loading images and your site users will definitely appreciate it

Increase in reach

lead generationLead Generation The more people you can reach, the more visitors you'll get to your site and the more enquiries or sales you should get. A CSS-based website is compatible with PDAs, mobile phones, in-car browsers and WebTV. Don't underestimate the importance of this: In 2008 alone an estimated 58 million PDAs will be sold (source: http://www.etforecasts.com/pr/pr0603.htm) and one third of the world's population will own a wireless device (source: http://www.clickz.com/stats/markets/wireless/article.php/10094_950001).

You can make an additional CSS document specifically for handheld devices, which will be called up in place of the regular CSS document, thereby ensuring your website is accessible to this lucrative market. This isn't possible with a tabular layout.

Conclusion: Switch to CSS!

Switching your website from a table layout to a CSS layout can be a long, arduous process, especially for large websites. Given the money making possibilities though, it could very well prove to be well worth it.

Contact us today for a free quotation, or to discuss your website requirements

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Storm Biz - Website Management, Responsive Mobile, Tablet and Desktop Design

Can you really afford to lose almost 60% of users browsing your website?

Business Website Design, Mobile Website Design, Speciality Website Design, Joomla Website Management, Search Engine Optimization and Search Engine Marketing.

Storm Biz Responsive Design

small business

From the 1st October 2013, all websites that are designed by Storm Biz will now be Responsive Websites, fully view-able on mobile devices, tablets, desktops and laptops. What is Responsive Websites, why have we moved into this direction, and how does your website, traffic and users benefit from this, and finally what is the cost involved?

What is Responsive Websites Design?

We use the term responsive website design for websites that have a "different" display on tablets and mobile devices, compared to normal desktops and tablets. This is not the same as the old "Wap" websites, as the mobile and tablet version still contains graphics, and even image galleries and forms, or any components still found on a normal desktop version, the only difference is that the layout "responds" to the device that you are using, and there is no need to use the "Zoom" function on your phone to make the website readable and images view-able. Users do not want to keep scrolling up, down, left and right to view your content, they want it readable as it displays on the screen, anyone who has used an e-book device will know exactly how easy it is to read content that only scrolls down, and this is essentially what a responsive template creates.

joomla-management-450Why have we moved to Responsive Websites?

We were approached by one of our Graphic Design clients to redo his clients website into a responsive website, as the website was getting 70% searches on mobile devices. Although we have played with the idea of turning to responsive websites, we were never really sure the extra costs to our clients would justify the demand to change to responsive websites. So we did the research, discussed the issues, pros and cons, and what costs and time would be involved in turning normal websites to fully responsive websites. It turns out that 60% of searches on Google are done on mobile devices. This statistics has almost doubled since last year, and this is now the trend, as more and more people use their mobile devices to browse the internet. The statistics also show that 95% of people will leave your website if it does not display a mobile version of your website. Can you really afford to lose almost 60% of users browsing your website?

How does a responsive website affect your traffic, website look and feel, and user experience?

Our main objective is still to provide websites which are search engine friendly, displays beautifully on desktops and laptops, and now with the added advantage of displaying correctly on mobile devices and tablets. We have already stated that the need for mobile websites have increased dramatically over the past few years, with more searches being done on mobile devices, than any other devices. Since your website is responsive, your users will not skip your site and move on to one of your competitors whose site is already mobile friendly. This means that your traffic is increased, page hits are increased, and your users are now enjoying their experience on the mobile version of your website. Many people still assume that a mobile website is dull, boring, and contains no graphics, this assumption is incorrect, a mobile version simply compresses your website graphics, text and components into an easy to view style that is fully view-able on your phone, and enhances your users experience. Your users will know that you have taken the time and effort to provide them with a user friendly, mobile version of your website, without losing the quality of your desktop version.

What costs and time are involved in changing your current website to a responsive website?

At Storm Biz we don't believe in gradually learning how to do things... We jump in to the most difficult website we can do, as this teaches us everything we need to make future designs easier. Well this turned out to be true, as our first fully responsive website turned out to have 9 different colored themes, 12 different contact pages, 22+ different galleries, and over 30 Content pages. This complex website took us almost 3 weeks to complete. We have since changed our own website and accounting system to a responsive design, this only took us 4 days for both systems. The websites that we now design that are responsive, take an additional 1 - 3 days to design, implement and test (dependent on website and component complexity). Considering the increase of traffic that your website will now receive, the initial investment is minimal.

Since our main concern is that your website succeeds, we have re-looked at our pricing and adjusted it accordingly to include fully responsive websites. The time spent on a website design has now doubled, and time spent testing has almost tripled.

Please click below to view our packages and pricing:
Business Website Design Packages

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Search Engines and Spam

spamming search enginesSpamming Search EnginesWhat is Spam?

Spam (for Search Engines) refers to the use of any illegal technique to improve a page' ranking in the Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs). Who decides what 's illegal? The SEs, who else?

Tons of articles have been written about search engines and spam. Why the need for another article? Because, believe it or not,  MOST of the major search engines are still vulnerable to MANY unethical techniques used by malicious Webmasters.

Spam has been known for a long time. For years, Webmasters tried to cheat the search engines. Today, many SEs say they know all the tricks and penalize those pages. As you will see, most SEs only SAY that they will punish spammers, but in fact they DON'T.

What is Search Engine Optimization?

Search Engine Optimization, Placement, Positioning, Ranking, or whatever you want to call it, is the process of designing a Web page that can be easily indexed by the SEs and receive high rankings in the SERPs.

My Experience with Search Engines

Recently, using some major U.S. SEs, I made a search for a Web design company in New York. Let me to share with you my highly disappointing experience.

The search engine results pages (SERPs) in most of the search engines were full of Web pages that used one or more spamming techniques. The most frequently encountered illegal strategies used by many SEs were:

  • Keyword stuffing
  • Page redirect
  • Mirror domains

Keyword Stuffing

Keyword stuffing is the adding of many relevant, sometimes irrelevant, words in the:

Keywords META tagKeywords META TagKeywords META tag

One of the criteria some search engines use to rank pages in the results list is the presence of relevant words in the Keywords META tag. From use to abuse is a little step, so some webmasters place many words, repeating them many times in the hope that the page will rank higher. The record was a page that had 1,150 words (no mistake, WORDS not characters) in the Keyword Meta tag. The word "design" was repeated 209 times. Unbelievable, right?
What are Search Engines' positions regarding this spamming technique? One of the Web's most important Search Engines, in their submission guidelines, states that it will "exclude submissions" with "excessive keywords". It looks like 1,150 words are not "excessive" enough, because THAT SE and many others index the page.

Besides stuffing words in the Keywords META tags, some Webmasters also add lots of words in the:

Visible page

Another criteria some search engines rank sites in the results list is the so-called "word frequency": the more times a word is repeated in the content of a page, the higher are the chances it will be near the top in the results list.

Some Webmasters often abuse this criteria by placing words or phrases- most of the time- at the bottom of the page, many, MANY times. Do you recall the site that has 1,150 words in the Keywords Meta tags? Well, the same site just "copied and pasted" those words in the copy of the page.

You might think that it's weird to see a bunch of words inserted in the page. Well, Webmasters have found two methods to work around this problem: "tiny text" and "hidden- or invisible- text". "Tiny text" means that the Webmaster places the text in a very small size, most of the time hardly legible. "Invisible text" means the use of the same color for text AND for background, so users will NOT see the words but SE's spider WILL see, so the page will rank higher than it deserves.

The Search Engines' position regarding this spamming technique? One of the Web's most important Search Engine, in its guidelines writes: "We must sometimes exclude submissions" of "pages with text that is not easily read, either because it is too small or is obscured by the background of the page". Other SE's will "significantly downgrade a page's ranking" ... "if words cannot be read due to their small size or color".

Despite these statements, both SEs, as well as other SEs, index pages with text in the same color as the background. To illustrate the total lack of respect for users with little fear for SEs, one Web page has a whopping 936 words in BLACK text on a WHITE background. Incredible!

web page redirectWeb Page RedirectPage Redirect

One page can be redirected either by using the "refresh" META tag or using cloaking techniques. Why the need to redirect a page? One of the legitimate reasons to redirect a page is having a new URL for the site. But some Webmasters abuse page redirection to obtain higher rankings for their pages.

How does it works?

Using the "refresh" META tag:

This technique consists in building 2 pages: one, highly "optimized" - read "spammed"- with many, MANY words in the KW and Description META tag and also in the Title tag. Most of the time the copy of the page is also highly "optimized" with KW stuffing- many times with invisible text.

These pages called: "Doorways Pages", "Gateway", "Entry" or "Bridge" pages most of the time display a "Click here to enter the site" or simply "Enter" or sometimes "select Flash or HTML" message on the entire page. Using the "refresh" META tag the Webmaster will "redirect" the user to a second page, which will appear after a determined number of seconds after seeing the first page. If the time is set to "0" (zero) seconds, the viewer will NOT see the first page, but directly the second one.

Why two pages? The first one shown to SEs as highly "optimized" will help the page rank very high in the SERPSs, by cheating the SEs. The second one is "nicer", not too much spam, a good page for viewers.

Cloaking technique is probably the most controversial spamming technique.

It also uses 2 pages, one for the SE and another for the viewer. The big difference between this technique and the one above is that in the first case it is possible to see the code of the first page (shown to SEs), but in the second case it is not.

Hiding the Meta data (especially keywords) in the code can provide a huge advantage in this current highly competitive market, as there are known cases of Webmasters that stole a competitor's keywords in an attempt to rank higher.

What are search engines' positions regarding redirecting? Do not submit any site with an address that redirects to another address" or "Your site cannot mirror or redirect to another Web site" or we "may permanently ban from our index any sites or authors who engage in cloaking to distort their search rankings" or simply: "Don't cloak".

Pretty clear, right? Then why some Webmasters insist in using cloaking techniques? To hide their pages' code from prying eyes. Bad guys are not afraid to spam- most of the time, SEs only SAY: "don't do that". If you do, there will be NO- or sometimes very little- punishment.

Mirror domains

Consists in building hundreds or even thousands of pages with SAME content but with altogether DIFFERENT URLs (Web addresses). The advantage is clear: by finding the "right" tricks to cheat the SE algorithm one can "dominate" the SERPSs with pages one after another. One company had 62 pages in the Top 100 results list.

What are the search engines positions regarding this spamming technique? "Do not submit mirror sites". "Your site cannot mirror or redirect to another Web site". "Do not submit" . . . "the same pages from multiple domains". But in practice most of the SEs are vulnerable to this technique.

Spamming in on page elementsSpamming in on Page ElementsQuestions for:

Search Engines

When are you going to be SERIOUS about your job?

When will you PUNISH the spammers? Have CLEAN indexes? It is not difficult. A dialog with the Webmasters community might result in opinions such as THIS one:

"I can't understand why the search engines aren't professional enough to put their anti-spam efforts into a detailed agreement and have anyone that wants to be listed sign their agreement. Such an agreement would spell out very clearly what is and what isn't allowed. Anyone breaking the rules would be subject to specific penalties or banning, but would be notified and have a chance to fix the problem especially if the infraction was not too serious".

Clear enough?

Why do you accept advertising from sites which use spamming techniques? So, if a page cannot achieve high rankings, for few buck it becomes "featured" site or listing and voilà!, on the top of the list. Is this the latest trick for a poor site to be listed high? Now, on one hand, in your guidelines you tell Webmasters not to spam, on the other hand, if a spammer PAYS, that's no problem. Good bye relevancy, hello profits! Here is a comment by a high-ranking official from a major SE: "the more we take payment for listings, the more you'll get great results" Excuse me? "Big" pockets' sites are NOT always more relevant than "poor" pockets' sites.

I know I'm not the first one to ask but, when are you going to make a CLEAR distinction between paid listings and real results? The user needs to make an informed decision. The user needs to be helped, not confused.

Webmasters

Why use techniques seen by the SEs as spam? Why take the risk of having pages penalized, or even permanently banned, from indexes? Two months of glory, then a new domain, blacklisted again- poor way to market any business.

Think it's impossible to get higher rankings WITHOUT using spam? My answer is NO. Do your homework, read thoroughly and abide to SEs guidelines, cross your fingers and you'll be # 1.

Have you ever seen one of your page's ranking lower than a page which uses spamming techniques? I bet you did. Now, how did you react? Did you report it to the SE or you said "nah, that's no use anyway"? Or perhaps you thought it's not nice to turn in the Webmaster. OK, let me ask you something: would you like, that while waiting in line to buy a ticket to a movie, somebody, who comes AFTER you, go in the front and buy a ticket BEFORE you do?

Or perhaps THIS is the solution?

A site will be nominated and posted on a listserv which any member can second then the offender will be notified of his conviction by the spamdex police. They will have a week to clean it up and re-submit and remove the offending listing from the search engines. After a week the offender will be reported to the search engines. The search engines will have a month to act or they will be added to the list as an accomplice to the activity.

Search Engine Results PageSearch Engine Results PageHuh? What do you think?

Site Owners

When are you going to wake up? What am I talking about? Well, I'm taking about a report, which says, "nearly 46 percent of the marketers surveyed said they allocate less than 0.5 percent of their annual marketing budgets on search engine optimization (SEO) services". Now, read it again, and again.

So, you spend 95,5 % on gizmos such as Flash and Java Scripts and less than 1% for SEO. Let me tell you something: bells and whistles will never help a page rank high in SERPs. NEVER. In fact it will work against.

Which are your rankings, by the way? When was the last time you checked, if ever? Are you in the Top 30 results for your strategic keywords when the user runs a search? You're not? Practically you don't exist for your prospects. Still wonder why so many .com CLOSE? Are you going to be next?

Do you need a Ph.D. to realize that the SEO- your Web site "salesman"- is more necessary than ever? One of these days you'll discover the power of search engine marketing: the cheapest yet most effective way to promote your site to more than 300 million prospects. Bright future for SEO.
I can see a bright future for the SEO, don't you?

When are you going to understand that SEOs is NOT only optimizing the Keyword Meta Tag? SEO is a highly specialized, time-consuming and sometimes expensive but absolutely NECESSARY task. It's both an art and a science to position a Web page near the top in SERPs. So, forget about your in-house SEO "expert", shop around and find a reputable SEO firm or consultant.

Do;s and don'ts when you talk to the SEO guy:

If a Web Marketer suggests you to get rid of that flashy or framed Home Page, just DO IT! Or, don't blame HIM for the consequences. If a SEO says something about cloaking and doorways, run, and I mean it.
Don't even think telling a SEOs, that you'll pay him, AFTER the pages show up in the search engines. Enough said. Don't be a kid by asking him to GUARANTEE you Top 10 positions! No honest SEO will do it. The only thing a SEO can guarantee is an increase in the number of pages indexed and an increase of the current rankings. With some luck your sales will sky rocket.

Last thing: please, avoid those submission tools and their hype: "submit your site to 500,000 SEs for $24.95". Submit your Web site by hand. Period.

IN CONCLUSION:

SEM Search Engine MarketingSEM Search Engine MarketingSince the summer of 1995, when I worked for the first time with a Search Engine, I saw some SEs disappearing, and lots of new SEs appearing.

Competition is good, but users might be confused with thousands of SEs. Besides, not everybody knows sophisticated searching techniques such as the Boolean operators, so there is a lot of frustration out there. If we add the irrelevancy of the results in most of the SEs, we have a pretty sad picture.

A clean index should be the main priority for any search Engine. If a SE gives irrelevant results, the user will switch to another SE. Can a SE afford losing users in todays'fierce competition between SEs? I don't think so.

To wrap up, I am not saying here that ALL the Search Engines are vulnerable to ALL the known spamming techniques. All I say is that MOST of the Search Engines are vulnerable to MOST of the bad tricks.

I also believe that it is NOT important to list WHICH SEs are vulnerable to WHICH spamming techniques or WHICH sites spam WHICH SEs. The important thing is it STILL happens.

Not only in the American SEs. I've checked also Spanish, German, French and Italian SEs. Less spam, but still there.

Please do not hesitate to contact us for a free quotation, or more information

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Joomla Website Management Package

From 1 March all hosting companies have started switching off PHP 5 and started enforcing their clients to use PHP 7.

Since the security issues with PHP 5.x are no longer supported, all hosting companies have started moving their CPanel and Plesk clients to PHP 7.x. This affects all current Joomla, Wordpress and Magento clients, only to name a few. If you have a website designed in a Content Management System, like Joomla or Wordpress, it means that your website might break, unless all your components, C.M.S. and templates are up to date.

We have a management package that is specifically designed to keep your website up to date, every week, month or when needed. You can have peace of mind when it comes to your website and security updates, from only R450.00 per month. This includes all your components, your chosen C.M.S., and any add-ons you have on your site, and if you wish to host your site with us, then there's no additional charge. Click here to view what you get for this low price, which saves you R 1000.00's every year, as our price even includes license fees for most common Joomla components.

managementOnline Marketing Package & SEO

Our top selling product, the Online Marketing Package, is great for any business, any size. We will manage/set up your companies FaceBook/Twitter/Linked in and/or Google Page, post on a weekly basis and also do monthly SEO on your website (Joomla/Wordpress Only.) We can also write Blog articles and even send out weekly/monthly newsletters. When it comes to marketing, we can do it all, and we can ensure that your Company/Brand is promoted sufficiently and professionally, to reach as many new/existing clients as needed. Click here to view our Marketing Packages, starting at R 2 950.00 per month.

For ALL your Website needs - Contact Us for a free quotation or to discuss your needs or call us on 081-525-1727

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Congratulations

congratulationsWe would like to take this opportunity to congratulate those who responded to our warning about PHP needing to be updated.

Well Done!!!!!

So glad we were able to assist you in getting your website PHP up to date and keep it in excellent working order. You sure saved yourself some huge headaches and expenses.

We were totally overwhelmed by the response we received and are very happy that we were able to help so many people.

If you did not respond and are having problems with your website due to your PHP not being up to date, all is not lost yet. We can assist you and restore the website to working order, if you act quickly before your website is so damaged that it needs to be completely redesigned.

You need to take care of your business and we will take care of your website for you.

StormBiz can keep your website and all its components up to date and functioning to its full potential. Avoid losing your website or having it breaking by investing a miniscule amount in a management package from StormBiz.  We can also take care of your marketing and advertising.

Your website must always be compliant and all apps up to date.

We also install software and website monitoring software to ensure your website is always live.

Contact us today for a free quotation or free evaluation of your website.

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