Category Archives: Web Development

The Easy Way To Keep Your Web Site Up To Date

Shift One Labs Home Page

In today’s hyper-responsive, social media focused world, it may seem a bit antiquated to spend time updating your web site. The truth, however, is that regular website updates will help create a more expansive digital presence for you and your business. Thus, we suggest making updates to your web site on a monthly basis (or more often). This may seem challenging, but as we’ve highlighted below, with a CMS system in place this process can be done quite quickly and easily.

Get on the Carousel

One of the most useful current trends in web design is the carousel (for a sample, check out our home page). Not only does it present visitors with a changing screen (thus catching the eye more than a static page) it also allows for quick and easy website updates. Since many systems will allow you to create an additional page for the carousel, you can leave the others in place and simply add a new, more up to date item that covers a different aspect of your business. If you’ve launched a new product, added a new service offering or just have a new blog post, this is a great way to highlight the content not only to new customers, but existing ones that may not be familiar with the addition.

Blogging for the Win

If design constraints or costs limit your ability to regularly refresh your site, all is not lost. As we’ve often discussed here on the Weblog Blog, a blog is a great tool for creating new content that speaks to your current and future customer base and, given the variety of platforms can be done for little to no cost. If you already have a CMS system in place, such as Joomla! or Drupal, you can easily include a blogging add-on to your current system.

A Helping Hand from Social Media

A frequent problem with social media is the need to have something timely and important to say that doesn’t repeat what you’ve already talked about. One of the advantages of regularly updating your web site is that it allows you to then reuse that same content as a potential Twitter/Facebook/etc. update. Announcing a new product on Twitter and then providing a link back to your freshly created web page on that product allows new and current customers to get the exact level of detail they need – either a short overview with your tweet, or a more thorough product/service explanation on your web site.

No matter what kind of website (or budget) you’re working with, updating your website should be a key priority each month. If you need any help, feel free to reach out to us any time.

Building Brand Visibility in a Social World

BRANDIt’s often been said that business, much like history, operates in cycles. In fact, the concept of the business cycle dates all the way back to the year 1819. In terms of creating increased brand visibility online, what once was old is a new again: word of mouth.

Long before the Internet, advertising or even widespread literacy, word of mouth was how merchants helped increase their business (coincidently, the term “word of mouth” originated in the same decade as “business cycle”). If you built a better shoe, baked a better loaf of bread, or sewed more durable clothes, you would be sought out for your skills. Hundreds of years later, massive brands spent billions of dollars on mass-market advertising, hoping to sweep up potential customers using the most general ads possible. With the advent of the Internet (and, more preciously, Google’s incredible revenue generating machine known as Google AdWords) companies were able to target the exact users and potential customers they were most interested in. While still a powerful moneymaker for Google, building online brand visibility has shifted to social networks. Why, the thinking goes, spend money on advertising when you can have the users do it for you for free? While logical an idea in theory, this is incredibly difficult to do in practice.

At the onset of a brand visibility push, it is an excellent idea to have specific goals in mind. What metrics do you want to use to measure the success of the program? Specific percentage increase in daily website visitors? Increased social media engagement? More monthly leads? Increased foot traffic into your store? Having these concepts in mind will make it easier to help create and define the brand visibility campaign.

One of the most important aspects of increasing brand visibility is a consistent push across all avenues of your online presence – social media, SEO, and pay-per-click programs all need to be reviewed, updated and coordinated as the program moves forward. There are numerous advantages to this. For example, if done correctly, content created for one area can be used and repurposed as a starting point for another. Just as importantly, however, is the need to avoid repetition. Nothing turns users off more than unwanted, irrelevant or duplicative contact from brands and companies.

As the program moves forward, if the predefined goals are not being met, the exact “mix” of SEO, social and PPC may need to be adjusted. While these types of programs have become highly refined over the years, creating the right blend for a particular company is far more art than science. Thankfully, here at Shift One Labs we are more than comfortable in this digital kitchen, and are ready to help your business define your online presence and build greater brand visibility. Just ask some of our friends.

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Shift One Labs Announces New Branding To Celebrate Fifth Anniversary

Forward-Thinking Web Development Company Invests In Rebrand To

Better Support Clients In Building Their Dream Websites

Shift One Labs Logo

RICHMOND, Va. (March 2, 2015) – Shift One Labs, a forward-thinking web development company that builds dream websites for entrepreneurs and businesses of all sizes, today announced the company’s rebranding initiative with the launch of their new name, logo and website to celebrate five successful years in business. Formerly Reibsamen Web Solutions, Shift One Labs’ new brand aligns with the bright minds of today’s generation of business owners, and connects with these business owners by providing them with custom, top-of-the-line websites.

“Working in the ever-changing and advancing technological world, we believe that businesses should be willing to adjust and grow alongside the technology that runs their business,” said Daniel Reibsamen, President of Shift One Labs. “The decision to revamp our brand exemplifies our mission to stay in front of trends and ensure our clients are satisfied with our ability to not only stay relevant, but serve as their go-to resource for website development and strategic expertise. Our goal is to offer a relatable brand and create meaningful, long-term relationships with our clients.”

The new website, created by Shift One Labs using some of the newest technologies, allows for a streamlined user experience with improved navigation and direct, personal messaging. With responsive design, the website is compatible with any device and offers live chat assistance. The new website also offers transparent team member profiles, a resourceful blog, an in-depth client portfolio, and social media integration.

 

ABOUT SHIFT ONE LABS

Shift One Labs is a forward-thinking web development company located in Richmond, Virginia that helps build dream websites for entrepreneurs and businesses of all sizes. Shift One Labs was established in 2010 by founders Daniel Reibsamen and Patrick Carlo-Hickman, who together have nearly 20 years of experience in the web development industry. Shift One Labs specializes in understanding each individual business, their industry, and forecasted goals and trends and utilizes this information to consult with businesses and construct an innovative and effective website customized to support company success. To learn more, visit http://www.shiftonelabs.com or connect with Shift One Labs at Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Google+.

CMS Platforms – WordPress, Drupal and Joomla!…oh my!

CMS Platforms

Those new to the online CMS world are often inundated with new terminology, product and company names, as well as uncertainty regarding costs and fees. In order to help break through this initial wall of confusion, we wanted to provide readers with detailed information on the key differences between the major CMS platforms. Given our significant experience in web development and CMS, we hoped to provide some insight into these systems as they create the core of your content management strategy and are the key to driving increased and repeat business. As with any sector of the digital economy, there are countless numbers of CMS systems, thus our overview will touch on the “major players” in the industry and highlight a few advantages of each system.

WordPress – Out of all of the CMS systems, WordPress is one of the few that many web users may have come across or even used in the past. Whether it was a long-forgotten blog you made about trying every single pizza place in New York City or a more recently created website to provide guests information about your upcoming nuptials, WordPress (and Blogger, now owned by Google) are two of the most frequently used personal blogging platforms. WordPress has since grown to be a full featured and highly customizable website application and an incredibly powerful CMS system for business and is very easy to use, given its consumer focused roots. WordPress can be used for a variety of CMS applications including intranet/extranet, a community portal, a web store, as well as a resource directory for documents, images, media and an online ticketing system.

Drupal Drupal was created from the ground up as an enterprise level CMS system. It benefits from having an incredibly open and active open source community that contributes thousands of free add-ons and layout themes for others to use. Drupal can be used to meet a wide range of corporate and professional needs, including social networking, wiki/knowledge base, as well as standard content management including resource directories and organizational web presence needs. Drupal is able to scale to any size business or organization. In fact, the City of Los Angeles recently migrated 20 of its public facing websites from Oracle to Drupal. Not to be outdone, the Australian government’s Drupal based CMS system recently went live as well.

Joomla! – Joomla! is a key player in the CMS world. It has built a significant following since its founding in 2005 and today can boast that it’s been downloaded over 50 million times. Joomla! is highly extensible and has won numerous awards including multiple “Best Open Source CMS” commendations. Joomla! has a strong set of core modules and features as well as a wide range of open source add ons and plugins. Joomla!, like other systems, offers the ability to create a company intranet, a community portal, and a web presence for any size organization.

The single most important factor in selecting a CMS system is you. The current needs of your business, as well as the ability to build in future expansion options, are the most important criteria when selecting a CMS system. At Shift One Labs, we have a long history of working with our clients to design and build the ideal CMS system, whether it’s just for pizza or the entire government of Australia (or, more likely, somewhere in between).

 

 

Web Security Essentials

Web Security Essentials

As we transition into the New Year, one of the biggest stories of 2014 – major corporations being hacked into – only seems to grow more prevalent. First it was Target then Home Depot and then a host of others, including restaurants, banks and even parking lot companies. This “first wave” of major hacking incidents were primarily financially motivated. The hackers were stealing credit card and personal information to sell or use on the black market. The cost to these major corporations to repair the damage runs in the tens of millions of dollars, not to mention the lost customer support and goodwill that these major brands have spent years trying to build.

The level of attacks has taken on a new dimension in two of the first of their kind – the lesser reported hack and subsequent wiping of entire computer systems at the Sands Casino and, perhaps most famously (or infamously) the attack on Sony Pictures for producing and releasing the movie “The Interview.” These attacks were radically different in that they were designed specifically to cause as much damage to the companies as possible, and not just to gain personal information or credit card numbers.

The attack on Target illustrates the need for all companies, both large and small, to implement strong web security policies. In the Target attack, hackers made their way into internal systems via an air conditioning/HVAC subcontractor. One of the most common ways for hackers to attack any system is to find the proverbial “weakest link” and exploit it to gain access to more secure systems. Thus, we at Shift One Labs wanted to provide some helpful tips and preventive measures that all companies – from the world’s largest corporations to individual business owners – should take to help create a secure, online environment for their customers, clients and vendors.

  • Strong Passwords: Creating strong passwords, much like flossing, is something that we all know we need to do but don’t actually do often enough. Creating a strong password might make it more difficult to remember, so you may want to use a password manager program to help keep them all straight.
  • Web Security: Talk to your web development company about security. If you run an e-commerce site, this is of vital importance since it is your customers’ credit card and personal information that is at the greatest risk. Make sure they are using secure, well known e-commerce solutions such as Magento or osCommerce. If they don’t provide detailed information about the steps they take to help build and host secure sites, come talk to us.
  • Use Open Source: Open source solutions offer users increased security compared to closed systems. Open source allows anyone to look into the underlying code that the software and applications are built on. Much the same way it’s a risk to buy a new house without a proper inspection, it’s difficult to truly access the effectiveness of a given program if you can’t see how it works.
  • Web Hosting: Look into the specifics of your web hosting company. What are their qualifications? What security implementations do they have in place? What level of support will they provide during a potential problem? Shift One Labs not only provides web application development – we also have website hosting capabilities.
  • Update Software: Updating the software on your computer – particularly the operating system – goes a long way towards helping prevent potential problems.
  • Offsite Backup: Creating on offsite backup of your most important data should be a core component of your IT system. Sites such as Crash Plan are designed to be easy to use and allow to you back up to a home or other trusted computer as well as the cloud.

If you have any questions about web security or the steps you can take now to help reduce the risk of a potential incident destroying your business, please reach out to us. For now, we need to go find some floss.