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How To Hire A Web Designer

 

Our previous blog covered web developers. Today we’ll look at web designers more in-depth. The difference between a web developer and a web designer is that the designer draws out the graphics and layout. Front-end web developers will work very closely with designers. The designer decides how the website looks. Then, the front-end developer solidifies that design. Designers (digitally) draw out the navigation menu, graphics, media, and layout. Overall, designers create the blueprint, developers build based off the blueprint.

Why you need a web designer

It’s your business and it is ultimately up to you to decide how you want your website to look like. But, if you’re unsure about your web design, no worries! A web designer takes your vision and turns it into reality. And, they often improve the look. They can fill in holes and aspects that are often overlooked (such as load screen). Experienced designers could guide you on what your audience will expect from your website. In simplest terms, they set the overall appearance. A good designer should be able to express your goal through your website’s appearance.

Traits of a good designer

Like with web developers, designers have to go through formal education. Preferably, an associate’s degree. In order to complete the task, they will use Adobe Photoshop, GIMP, and Illustrator to construct wire frames and prototypes. In this process, they connect the visual design to the function design. However, creativity is critical as well. A good web designer will make your website stand out against competitors. Whether it’s through eye-catching digital art/media, or even a good color scheme, designers design uniquely for you. To learn more details, check out this link.

Are you interested in help with web design/development? If so, contact Redwood Creative to get started on your website and build your business today!

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How To Hire A Web Developer

Website developing and designing involves being fully knowledgeable in coding, computer programs, and formatting. It is also responsible for security, linking, and functionality. Furthermore, it involves creativity, patience, and clear communication between the business owner and the developer. There are two types of web developers- front end and back end. Front-end developers focus on the layout and physical design. Back-end designers specialize in behind the scenes works, like coding. Those who do both are called “stack developers”. Since the website needs to be created for the audience, it is up to the business owner to decide what the website will look like. A web designer will utilize their training and experience to bring that vision to reality.

Elements of a professional web developer

Index of /movies/matrix

Neo’s coding, 1999

A good website designer will have these skills: Sharepoint, JavaScript, Virtualization, Ruby, C#, and more. Version control and CSS are handy to know as well. They will also have a great understanding computer science & technology and how the website will function on different types of computers and mobile devices. Front-end developers work with programming language like Java and HTML. It will likely take two web developers for best results as there is a lot of programming and complex systems. Read more about a web developer’s journey and aspects here.

Where to find a good developer

A qualified developer has a formal education with an associate’s degree and experience. Since they’re typically not found at Best Buy or your local computer store, online is the best place to find one. But, you don’t have to bother with hours of research to find one. Redwood Creative can supply a quality web developer to help you kickstart your site! Our team of website professionals can give you advice, guidance, and the finest developers and designers. Check us out and see what we can do for you!

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Woeful Business Owner Needs Website

People often come up to me on the street and ask me, “Mr. Redwood Creative, why do I need a website?”

My first response is typically, “Who the hell are you?!” But once they relate to me that they are a woeful small business owner with no online presence, or a very dated online presence that looks like it was designed by hyenas in MS Paint, I throw my head back with a laughter of relief that they are not a mugger or one of my many stalkers, and exclaim, “Oh, my friend!” slapping a hand down upon their shoulder. “Let’s take a ride!”

We don’t have a taxi service in this small town so what I and this stranger do is jump into the backseat of the nearest car at the nearest stop light. It’s hot here in Texas, you see, so many people drive with their windows down. Yes, we jump in through the windows. This, literally, happens to me at least three or four times per week.

“Don’t worry about us driver,” I say to the driver who is either screaming or dialing 911, “We are but two consenting adults discussing online visibility.” This calms the driver down.

“So, why DO I need a website?” the woeful business owner will say once he realizes he just might not actually be getting kidnapped.

And here’s where my expertise really shines. I straighten my back, clear my throat, tell the driver to turn down the radio and I say, “Because it’s 2020 for crying out loud! You need a website!”

“B-b-b-but I’m in the Yellow Pages!” the business owner will assert. “I have my business cards tacked up on the bulletin boards in every laundromat in the tri-state area!”

“Well, imagine this, my friend,” I say, leaning in close for dramatic effect. “What if you could have your business card tacked up in a laundromat the SIZE OF THE ENTIRE EARTH!”

Naturally, the thought of a laundromat of such a size dazes the business owner for a second. The mere thought of so many broken Ms. Pac-Man machines is enough to give most NASA engineers pause. But then…they get it. It clicks. “Well, then, anyoneanywhere could find out about my business!” Their minds have shifted into spin cycle. They reel with the possibilities!

Often times, however, they tell me that they already have a website. “I already have a website,” they tell me, “See, look.” Then they show me their website on their smartphone or laptop, or sometimes the driver’s laptop if the driver’s not looking.

“Yep,” I say, squinting at the neon colors and animated gifs. “That certainly is a website. I mean, technically speaking.”

“It was designed by my niece – an artist – when she was 15 and it utilizes a whopping ELEVEN different fonts! Sometimes in a single word!”

“How old is your niece…now?” I ask.

“She’s 37 and just as artistic as she ever was when she can get time away from her septic tank scraping job.”

I sigh, and reassure them that their niece is, indeed, quite talented but things have changed. These days people like just one or two fonts. And instead of eye-gouging colors and gradients that induce vertigo they want useful information. Gone are the days when you could impress people with stock photos that still have the watermark on them and hit counters that show just how much traffic your site is NOT getting. People want to visit a site that looks professional. You know, business-like.

Then they sigh and, hanging their heads, they say, “My niece will be very disappointed, but you’re right.”

So, then we build them a totally awesome website.

Three or four times a week this happens.

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3 Simple Ways to Speed Up Your Website

In the spirit of an article about how to improve your site’s speed, let’s just cut to the chase…

Make Sure Your Site is Running the Latest Stable PHP Version

Often times a new version of PHP will roll out with many improvements that greatly increase speed, but your host won’t upgrade your website for you. If you aren’t sure what version of PHP you’re running you can ask your hosting provider or, if you’re running WordPress, install the WordPress Version plugin which will display your PHP version in your WP admin footer.

If you find that you are not running the latest version of PHP and need to upgrade you can ask your hosting provider to upgrade it for you. Some hosts may provide an option for you to do this yourself. In SiteGround‘s cPanel, for example, this can be done with the PHP Version Manager tool.

Optimize Images for Smaller File Size

There are many WordPress plugins that can do this automatically for you, such as EWWW Image Optimizer and Smush, but you can also optimize images yourself before you even upload them. If you’re using Photoshop to create and edit images already, don’t simply “save as” JPG or PNG. Instead, use the Photoshop export tool, which allows you to adjust the quality and file size of the output image. Simply choose File > Export > Export as and use the available options to adjust file size and image size.

Use Caching, Browser Caching & Compression

Caching essentially takes “snapshots” of your site’s pages and loads those for users, instead of loading each page fresh on every visit. This means, that instead of having to load every single element it loads a relatively static “snapshot” of the page. Likewise, browser caching tells your visitor’s browser what to cache locally, so the next time that user visits your site, they already have some of the site’s resources ready to go. Compression further increases site speed by serving a smaller version of the cached page. If you’re using WordPress it’s very easy to implement these things. Simply install one of the many popular caching plugins. Two of the most popular and trusted are WP Super Cache and WP Fastest Cache (which is what we use on the ETO site).

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Must Have FREE WordPress Plugins Vol. 2

As promised, here’s round two of our recommendations for “must have” FREE WordPress plugins you. If haven’t read part one of this two-part series then you’re really missing out on some darn fine blogging. You can check it out right here.

Duplicate Page

This one is so useful that I just used it to create this post! Instead of starting a new post from scratch and having to spend valuable seconds typing in a new title, assign categories, enter tags, etc. I simply used the Duplicate Page plugin to create a duplicate of part one of this series. Now, perhaps that’s not the most powerful use of this plugin, but it does come in a lot handier than that. For instance, if you spend a lot of time designing a highly detailed page or post that you need to replicate for other pages or posts this will save you a ton of time and ulcer-inducing frustration. Also, this thing doesn’t only work for pages and posts, but also other “post types” like products.

Download Duplicate Page

Ninja Firewall (WP Edition)

The last thing a spammer expects when attempting to hack a website is that they will be leaped upon and beaten to a pulp by ninjas! That’s exactly what this plugin does. By tracking hack traffic to your site it can pinpoint the exact location of hackers and deploy a battalion of skilled ninjas to their homes, parent’s basements or sweaty Internet cafés to utterly destroy them! Well, that’s really more of a metaphor for what this plugin actually does, which is detect “fishy” activity on your site – and within every file on your site – and put an immediate stop to it.

Download Ninja Firewall (WP Edition)

WP Fastest Cache

Website speed is crucially important. If a visitor comes to your website and it takes a ridiculously long time to load then they could become so frustrated they drop kick their computer into the nearest wall. This is not a good user experience. There are multiple ways to speed up a website and using WP Fastest Cache is one of them. In short, this plugin takes “snapshots” of your site’s pages, compresses them into lighter versions and serves those to visitors, so that instead of every element of the page having to load for them, they are given a single complete page at one go. Finally, no more having to drop kick computers into walls!

Download WP Fastest Cache

There you have it. The illustrious part two of our two-part series on “must have” WordPress plugins in two parts. What are some of your favorite WP plugins?

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Must Have FREE WordPress Plugins Vol. 1

Let’s face it. WordPress is the single greatest and most useful invention of the modern era, far surpassing such lesser inventions like velcro, nuclear physics, and those cool plastic toothpicks that also have dental floss in them. Even so, WordPress can be made even more useful when you install plugins! What are plugins? Well, friends, plugins are non-core functionalities that you can plug in (get it?) to WordPress to further bend it to your will. In this series we’ll detail some of what we consider to be essential FREE WordPress plugins that everyone – even lame people who don’t use those cool plastic toothpicks that also have dental floss in them – should use. Let’s begin.

Yoast SEO

As the saying that I just made up goes, “If you don’t have Yoast, your SEO is toast!” If you don’t know what “SEO” means just Google it. In short, SEO is formatting all the pages of your site in such a way that Google will fall in love with them and want to show everyone in the world who goes looking for your products or services. If you sell handmade toilet plungers and someone searches for “handmade toilet plungers” in Google, and your site has good SEO, then Google will show those people your site as if to say, “Hey! If you’re looking for handmade toilet plungers you’ve GOT TO check out THIS site! You’ll love it! Seriously.” Yoast helps you get Google this excited. With Yoast you can dial in all the optimal SEO settings for your site, customize title tags and meta information, generate XML sitemaps, and even calculate respectable restaurant tips. Well, it might not do that last one. I’ll have to check.

Download Yoast SEO

UpdraftPlus

You never know when some calamity may befall your website, completely obliterating it from existence. The chances of this are surprisingly scary. Have a look:

  • Odds of your website being obliterated by a hack, malware infection, or alien invasion: 2%
  • Odds of your website being obliterated because you totally screwed something up: 98%

As you can see, you really need to be backing up your website. Most people don’t back up their websites because it sounds painfully boring. “Backup my website?!” people often complain, “but I could be giving myself a root canal instead!” However, with UpdraftPlus, backing up your website can be an exciting thrill ride! Just click the “BACKUP” button and watch the progress bar race along at professional racing snail speeds! Actually, the beauty of UpdraftPlus is that you can schedule backups so they happen automatically on a recurring basis while you’re off doing more exciting things like hang gliding or playing solitaire.

Download UpdraftPlus

Admin Menu Editor

This is a personal favorite of mine. As any WordPress site owner can tell you, as you keep piling on plugins your admin menu becomes a terribly disorganized mess. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve gone searching for the “pages” menu option in a jumbled WP admin menu only to become so frustrated that I eventually set up a career day booth at the local community college just to hire a grad to do it for me. It took him three days. Admin Menu Editor solves this! With Admin Menu Editor you can organize the WP admin menu exactly how you want it, whether that means grouping together menu options you use often or simply alphabetizing them all with a single click. If only organizing my office were that easy. Luckily, after installing Admin Menu Editor I was able to hire a grad from the local community college to organize my office.

Download Admin Menu Editor

There you have Volume One of our most essential FREE WordPress plugins. Tune in next month for Volume Two where we’ll tell you all about more free WordPress plugins you should be using.

Check out Volume 2!