Laughing Cat Studios - Web Design and eCommerce

Category — Website Development

Automatically Update Copyright Dates

It’s the beginning of a new year and time to remind all web developers to check their copyright dates on their websites. My intention is to add simple code to my footers so I don’t ever have to manually update a copyright date. However, I must admit, I have not always been diligent about doing so. So this one is for those of you who have manually input copyright dates on the websites you have developed and are now having to manually update those dates.

To have a copyright in your footer that looks like this:

Copyright © 2007 – 2011. All Rights Reserved

If you are working with html files that are not set up to parse PHP, replace “2007″ in the following code with your copyright start date and then insert the following javascript code into your html file:

If you are working with php files, insert the following php code into your php file:

It’s as simple as that. Do it now on all your current websites and get into the practice of using code on all future sites you develop. Then on New Years Day, you won’t ever have to worry about it again!

January 2, 2011   No Comments

42 Questions to Answer Prior to Designing and Developing Your Company Website

You have decided your company needs a website or a company website makeover, so what’s next?  Spend some time researching answers for the following questions.   Answering these questions for your business prior to shopping for a web designer and developer, will make it easier to select one.

Setup Logistics

  1. Do you have a website (domain) name? Did you or someone else register the domain name?  Do you have control over the domain?
  2. Do you have hosting?  If so, what is your current hosting company and do you have access to the web server?
  3. If you currently have a website, are you in touch with the original website designer and developer?

Website Content and Website Design

  1. Who is your audience?
  2. What is your primary message?
  3. Is your content complete?  If not, who will be responsible for content creation and under what timeframe can you expect the content to be complete?
  4. Do you have a logo? What format is it in?
  5. Do you have the hex value for your current company colors?
  6. Do you have photos you need to use?  Are these photos optimized and sized for website design?
  7. Describe the style of website you are looking for.  Is this a brochure site, or a blog?
  8. If you have a catalog or brochure, would you like the website to be consistent with the look and feel of those marketing pieces?   
  9. Will you be providing creative direction or will you expect creative direction to come from your web designer?
  10. If you currently have a website, what do you like about the site and what do you hate about the site?  When is the last time the site was updated and why?
  11. Who are your competitors and what are their website addresses?
  12. What are several websites you like?

Website Development

  1. What do you need your website to do?
  2. Do you have any specifications?
  3.  Is there any specific functionality you need?
  4. How many pages do you need?
  5. Do you need an image gallery?
  6. How does your company handle email?
  7. Do you have a newsletter?
  8. Do you need any password protected areas?
  9. Do you need ecommerce?
  10. Do you need the website to tie into any particular 3rd party applications?
  11. Do you need a contact form?

Execution

  1. What is your time frame and budget?
  2. Does the site launch need to coincide with a product launch or any other important milestone?

Site Marketing

  1. Do you need social media tools built in, like Facebook, Twitter, Digg, Stumble Upon, etc.
  2. How familiar are you with search engine optimization?
  3. How will you market your site offline?
  4. How do people find your current website?
  5. How important is search engine ranking to you?

Site Maintenance

  1. How are you going to maintain the site?
  2. How often do you need to update the site?
  3. Do you need a content management system?
  4. Will several people be editing the site?
  5. Will your IT person be involved?
  6. What software do you have?
  7. Are you or anyone on your staff familiar with HTML and CSS?
  8. Do you or anyone on your staff have Photoshop or other image editing software?
  9. Will you want or need help in making changes? If so, would you need help routinely?

Answering the above questions will give you a great start in designing and developing your company website.  Feel free to contact Laughing Cat Studios at (205) 533-9050 for a consult!  We’d love to work with you on the design and development of a fabulous site for your company.

June 2, 2010   1 Comment

7 Excellent Reasons to use a Blog for Your Business Website

Over the last decade we have seen the emergence of blogging software such as Typepad, WordPress, Blogger and Drupal (to name a few).  With the advent of blogging software, we have seen websites move from static to a more dynamic, user-interactive state.  Here are 7 of my favorite reasons to use a blog for your business website:

1)    DIY (Do It Yourself).  As a business owner, you and your staff can modify text and graphics without involving your web developer.

2)    Fresh Content.  Articles and images can be added by multiple users in your company to provide fresh content for the site.  Search engines love fresh content.  In addition, fresh content lets your users know you have not abandoned your website.

3)    Branding and Customization.  Blogs can be customized to reflect company branding and can be developed to look as traditional as a traditional website.

4)    Search Engine Optimization.  Blogging platforms are designed to optimize in search engine results. 

5)    Open source development.  Plug-ins and extensions.  Large community of open-source developers creating features for your site.  Many of these are easy to install, customize and use on your site.

6)    User Engagement.  A blog lends itself to more user engagement.  Internet surfers of today are expecting more interaction with the sites they visit than ever before.  In the “old days”, a user would visit a site and expect to see a brochure site where they could read about the company mission, see a few photos of the business and possibly get directions.  Today, however, users want interaction.  They want to participate in a poll or giveaway, comment on your articles, rate your products, sign up and engage. 

7)    Social Media.  Simple to add Twitter widgets, Facebook fan page widgets and a medium for your users to share your site via their favorite social media outlet. 

Do you use a blog for your business site?  If so, what are your favorite reasons to use a blog platform?   If not, tell us why.

May 18, 2010   No Comments

Web Design in 2010

2009 was a year of adventure and the beginning of a journey for me and for Laughing Cat Studios. I am thrilled to have found my passion in designing and developing web sites for small businesses. I want to send a big thank you to all my clients of 2009 and say that it was a pleasure to work with each and every one of you.

We look forward to designing a few more ecommerce sites in 2010. In addition, we are excited to be designing a website for a new live music venue here in Birmingham Alabama.

Wishing everyone a healthy and prosperous new year!

Valerie Latawiec, Owner
Laughing Cat Studios

January 11, 2010   No Comments