Jul
24

Reasons Why You Need a Wedding Website

Okay, there are going to be some that agree and some that flat out disagree with this. Honestly, I personally thought it was weird when we got our first request to put a wedding website together for a client but quickly began realizing the benefits. Sure, how much communication and information do your guests need outside of “show up, get tipsy and dance” but think of how much of a hassle phone calls, e-mail, Facebook messages etc. would be just days before your big day. Much much better to have it all in one place for people to reference whenever they’d like. Also, think of how appreciative your wedding party and family members might be to have a little behind-the-scenes look into the planning process. A website with a major focus on blog-like functionality is perfect for any bride-to-be. Here are a few reasons we think you’d be happy to consider having a website for your wedding.

  1. Sure, most people know you enough to have been invited to your wedding, but how many of them know your partner or how you met? Using a website/blog to tell these kinds of stories is going to be fun for you, entertaining for your guests and gives everyone an opportunity to learn a bit more about you TWO as the lovely couple. You each can write a little bio about each other, how you ended up where you are today etc. etc.
  2. Your registry! You’re bound to get a ton of e-mails and questions about your wedding registry. “Where are you registered?” over and over again. Of course you might include information like this in your invitations but in this digital age we live, how many people are likely to be hanging onto that? With your website you can not only provide information on where you are registered but link people directly to it as well!
  3. Regarding that whole “living in the digital age” thing, how convenient would it be for your guests to include directions to your ceremony and reception as well as any pertinent notes like parking information and maps all in one place on your site.
  4. Pictures! There are going to be a ton of these and you probably even have a bunch of you two already. Share those with your guests on your website. Let’s be fair, not EVERYONE you’re inviting, especially your older guests have Facebook but most have access to the internet and can get to your website. Between past photos, engagement photos and what will appear to be the never-ending wedding photos, this is a great place to be sharing them all before and after the big day.
  5. Guests of your partner may not know you and guests of you might not know them but even if that isn’t true, many of your guests probably don’t know your wedding party. Use your website to introduce these folks and let your guests know how important they are to you and your partner. It will make them feel special at the very least!

At the end of the day, we feel a website for any upcoming wedding and bride-to-be is perfect and have included it as one of the examples for our One-Day Website service. The last thing any bride-t0-be needs is a drawn out design process that takes up too much time. With our One-Day Websites you avoid all the hassles and can have a beautiful website up and running in just one day. Learn all about it here!

 

 

Jul
3

Annnnnnnd, We’re Back!

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Soooo, we took quite a bit of time away from blogging and a short time away from projects as we worked on another business of ours and while we worked on developing the process for our latest service, One-Day Websites! However, the slight “disconnect” we feel was well worth it because we are super-excited about this brand new service.

If you haven’t already, be sure to head over to the page detailing everything you need to know about our One-Day Website service; you’ll be glad you did. We conjured up the idea after seeing a couple of similar concepts and thought that with a web presence being as important as it is for pretty much EVERYONE nowadays,why not make the whole thing a ton easier!?

Whether you’re an accountant, lawyer, photographer, newly-engaged couple, real estate agent, restauranteur, or really just about anything else you can probably take advantage of one of these websites. To be clear, we aren’t just offering a design but rather an all-out, fully-functional website! All on just ONE day for just $1200 (pssst…we’re offering even lower prices for first-timers).

If you think one of these sites can work for you or if you still have questions simply shoot us an email at contact@debutdesigns.com. We’re even offering some great perks/discounts for those taking advantage of this brand new concept for the first-time so reach out soon!

Don’t think it’s for you? No worries! You can still benefit in a big way by referring us to your friends, family, colleagues and clients. For every referral you provide us that gets a One-Day Website from us, we’ll give you $100! So get out there and help us spread the word.

Jul
9

Widget, but not too much – Avoid widget overload

It has become an overwhelming and misguided trend to find as many widgets and plugins possible and find as many places to put them on your blog and website. Misguided is certainly the right word and I know that is the case when I see three different types of Facebook widgets on some people’s blogs that share the exact same information in a slightly different format. I personally don’t need to see how many people “Like” your page three different times.

There are some widgets that I love and often they offer value to blogs and websites across the web. I think it simply becomes a problem when you run out of places to put them on a site and are forced to squeeze them in one way or another. When deciding what widgets to add to your blog/site, take a minute, decide what the true value of adding that information to your site is, how your visitors will use it and ultimately if your visitors themselves will see value.

To widget or not to widget, that is the question.

Jul
9

Overwhelmed by Social Media? – Start by Blogging

We often get the question of where to start as a small business owner looking to address the elephant in the office, social media. Without a doubt, without a plan, social media management as a small business owner can be overwhelming. Although having a plan is a good idea there is no reason to overwhelm yourself with anything elaborate.

Our opinion is to pick a platform that works and that you are familiar with whether it be Twitter, blogging, Facebook or any of the other platforms out there. Regardless of what it is, make sure you are comfortable with the way it works, who is seeing your posts and how they are responding to them. When it comes to the plan, like I said, don’t make it too elaborate. One thing that you will probably read a lot is that you should post at least once a week etc. etc. It is a good idea to keep a regular readership and post on somewhat of a schedule but don’t just post to post; post content that people are going to want to read and will value.

What I like to suggest is to start blogging and to start blogging “in private” first. Blogging in private will allow you to find your voice and get into the “flow of things” before going public with your brilliant prose. Now, why start with blogging? The reason why I like to suggest blogging first is because offers the ultimate flexibility and allows for you to post content while at the same time broadcasting it via links to many of the other platforms such as Twitter and Facebook (through use of plugins or settings in most popular blog platforms). Once you think you are in the flow of things, understand how blogging works and what it is you are going to be talking about, go public and don’t abandon your blog. A blog can be a valuable place for you to share information about your industry, interact with clients and showcase your knowledge as a professional in your industry. Don’t pass up the opportunity to blog.

Recap: Take on blogging in private and see how it goes. If you think you got something, go public. If you are still feeling a bit overwhelmed with blogging jump into Twitter, learn how to use it right and start posting interesting content and interacting with you clients/customers.

Note: Although I wouldn’t consider it the most robust platform, check out Posterous as a blog platform. Anything you post (via e-mail no-less) gets sent to most other popular social media platform. You can see a post about Posterous here.

Jun
15

Your website = you | Give the right first-impression

For those who remain unaware, your website is a representation of you and your business. Just as with any other form of marketing collateral, your website should demonstrate the same professionalism, personality and attitude of your business. Although it seems like business owners are finally getting this through their heads, there is still a ways to go in many industries.

In our opinion (and experience), some of the most out-dated websites come from the restaurant, real estate and local shop industries. For years we’ve noticed this and have heard a tremendous list of excuses from business owners. Our general rule of thumb is that if your website fits any of the following criteria, it is time for an updated look!

1) My website has photos/images that are stretched or skewed in width/height.

2) There is an animated mailbox character jumping around asking people to “E-mail Us” on the bottom of my homepage.

3) There is a marquee scrolling across the top of my homepage explaining the services and specials my business offers.

4) There is a counter for how many people have visited my website at the bottom of my pages.

5) The bottom of my website has a horizontal scroll bar for no reason whatsoever.

6) My site has soothing background music that begins immediately upon page-load.

7) My site has remnants of Clip Art and Word Art strewed about.

8) There is a guestbook available for all visitors of my website to sign.

9) Blinking text effects are featured.

10) My website doesn’t link to any social sites (i.e. Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter etc.)

So, take a look at your website and decide whether or not it needs an update. Does your site represent you and your business? Are your latest services and products featured? Do you feel that potential customers visiting your site will have the right first-impression of your business?

If your site does fit one or all of the criteria above, it isn’t too late! An investment in a website is one of the greatest investments you can make in your business. More and more businesses are seeing customers at their website before a phone call or visit to their office or store. Make a decision today to impress your potential customers and give your website the attention it deserves and have it drive business for you.

Apr
16

Taxes: COMPLETE! – Time to evaluate your site analytics

Now that your taxes are done (except for those who are the real procrastinators and filed for extension), it is time to focus on bigger and better things. Spring is in the air and it is time for some spring cleaning. Cleaning and shining up your website that is!

When was the last time you looked at your website and evaluated it as if in your customer’s shoes? Have you reviewed your website analytics lately to see who is visiting your website, what they are clicking and how effective your site is at delivering them the information you need them to see?

Evaluating your site analytics is one of the most important ways to better understand your customers and deliver them the information they are looking for. One of our favorites is Google Analytics which does an incredible job of delivering you the most pertinent information about your site and its performance.

Often when taking on new design projects we will install Google Analytics on a customer’s existing site for a few weeks or a month to help us determine what visitors are looking for, how they are navigating the site and how we can ultimately redesign the site to make that visitor’s experience more enjoyable.

So, do you have Google Analytics installed? Do you think knowing more about how your customers are using your site can help you better understand why your website is important to your business?

Now is the time to evaluate where your website fits in your business, how your brand and professionalism is portrayed on the internet and what you can do to make your website more effective which effectively translates into more leads and more sales.

Mar
17

Shopify | a simple yet robust e-commerce platform

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We recently had the pleasure of working with and using Shopify as the platform behind an e-commerce site we recently developed. We have worked with other shopping carts in the past and did a ton of research recently to find out which company can currently be crowned the cart champion (say that five-times-fast). Shopify came out on top for several reasons, but the biggest one being it’s usability. They make managing a store super easy for just about anybody.

Adding and editing products, pictures, descriptions, updating and tracking inventory, fulfilling orders, marketing…you name it and you’ll come to realize Shopify has made it pretty simple for you to do. Shopify also hosts everything, making updating completely automated. They actually do release new features from time to time, making it even more robust and easy to use.

From a developer standpoint, there was a bit of a learning curve in that Shopify has its own templating language that took some getting use to. In the end, there was no holding back; we were able to do everything our client was hoping for. Shopify is also flexible enough that we did not have to compromise on our design at all, it came out looking exactly as intended.

Shopify is top-notch and anyone looking to start an online store (even a small one) shouldn’t hesitate to check them out. Debut Designs will certainly be working with them on our next e-commerce project.

Mar
11

Starbucks teams up with Foursquare, should you?


foursquare_logo_boyFor those who haven’t already heard, there has been some exciting news from Starbucks and Foursquare today. As quoted from The New York Times Blog, Bits

Beginning Thursday, latte addicts who visit Starbucks outlets can get more than just a caffeine fix. They will also be rewarded on Foursquare with a barista badge.

For the location-based social network service, Foursquare, this is huge news but this can also prove to be an extremely successful strategy for Starbucks. Smaller brands than Starbucks have incorporated Foursquare into their marketing strategy before, especially in New York City where the service was born. However, with a large brand like Starbucks involved in what has become an addictive social network for many, it isn’t unlikely that we will start seeing many large brands take advantage of Starbuck’s innovative thinking.

On the other hand, this is also a great opportunity to incorporate your small business into the Foursquare craze. The decision by Foursquare founders to expand the service drastically beyond New York City has put even small towns into the Foursquare mix. If you own a retail location, a restaurant or even a dentist’s office, Foursquare is worth exploring and incorporating into your marketing strategy.

Take a restaurant for example. Can a restaurant owner afford to offer 10% off a check on Tuesdays while in return have patrons notify all of their friends when they visit that restaurant while at the same time raving about the great service and superb food on Foursquare? The answer needs to be yes!

Even in the social media driven world we live in, we continue to see businesses fail to take advantage of great marketing opportunities through services like Twitter and Facebook. We understand there are a lot of services on the web and that it can become overwhelming but what works just works and Twitter, Facebook and now Foursquare are dead winners in our book!

The best part about Foursquare is that your restaurant, store, etc. is probably already on Foursquare as added by your own patrons. All you have to do now is put a sign in your window that offers promotions to Foursquare users. Give Foursquare a peak and let us know what you think.

Feb
11

A New Channel for Marketing Your Brand – Google Buzz

Google Buzz

It is probably still too early to tell how big of a splash Google Buzz is going to make in regards to social media effectiveness. However, it is fair to say that it does create a new marketing channel for your business while expanding your brand’s web footprint.

Time and time again we hear of people overwhelmed by everything that is “out there” on the web and we completely understand. If you feel this way, but you are still interested in leveraging Google Buzz for your business, you can choose to simply link Buzz to your existing accounts. As with many new social media tools, Google Buzz allows you to connect to six of your already existing and managed accounts. Accounts include (to date) Twitter, Google Chat, Picasa, YouTube, Flickr and Google Reader. If you feel that managing Google Buzz is too much to manage then simply activate your Buzz account and connect the services and tools you already manage. This will save you time but at the same time open you up to additional marketing potential for your business via Google Buzz.

Although it is hard to say what tools will be effective when they first launch, it will always remain important to find new channels of marketing your brand, services and product. Never hesitate to use what you already manage to take advantage of these new channels without any additional time invested.

Feb
11

Blogging (in private)

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Quite often we hear about people who know about blogging but haven’t started doing it. Most of the time people are afraid that they don’t have enough to write about or simply can’t think of anything to write about. Even worse, people who get started blogging and then stop because they lose their “flow” or can’t work blogging into their daily schedule and routine.

For this we have a suggestion. Most (if not all) popular blogging software/platforms allow for “private posting” or “drafts”. Use these features as you get started and enter into a blogging routine! Many people make the mistake of jumping directly into blogging and immediately lose momentum. Instead of jumping right into it, take a few weeks to blog “behind closed doors” through the use of the “private posting” or “draft” features. This will give you time to review your posts and find the topics that best suit you and your brand.