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Question: How often should you update your website?

Answer: All the time!

A website should never be a static document. In fact a website works better for you (and your customers and search engines) if you keep it fresh and updated. Think of it as evolutionary growth – your website should always be growing and changing.

There are three types of updates you should be considering on a regular basis:
  • content updates
  • site enhancements
  • complete site redesigns

1. Content updates

Keep your content fresh and you give your site visitors a reason to keep coming back. Consider having a section of your home page for announcements that you can update at least weekly.

We also recommend reviewing key sections of your site at least once a quarter to make sure the information is accurate and up-to-date. Our content development services can help you stay on top of your site’s content.

2. Site enhancements

If your current website design is fairly new and working well, it might be time to take it to the next level. A few examples of things you should consider to extend your website's promotion or effectiveness:
  • Analytic Reporting: Analytics and site statistics show you how well your site is performing so you can make educated decisions for change or additions. 
  • Email Marketing: Email marketing campaigns are a good way to stay in touch with your clients and nicely complement an overall website strategy. 
  • Social Media Set up and Strategy: Social media – blogging, Twitter, Facebook, etc. - give your business an influential new tool to build relationships, learn about your customers and expand your website’s marketing power. 
  • Search Engine Optimization: Making sure you appear when you should on search engines and also tweaking that result so that it best markets your services are key elements to a successful website.
  • Video Production: When you have a complicated service/product or a great testimonial or a story to tell, sometimes words aren't enough. Bringing those examples to life through video can be extremely compelling to your audience. 
Not sure where to start? Our Site Success ManagerTM services can help you identify areas of improvement.

3. Site redesign

Has it been three years or more since you launched your site? It’s probably time to sit down and talk about a site redesign. Technology and tools change quickly on the Internet. Investing time and money in your site regularly helps you ensure you’re getting the most from this valuable resource. It also helps you take advantage of the latest in Internet development. Now is a particularly good time to consider how to make your site more mobile friendly.

Following what we preach: The new website just launched.

It’s been nearly three years since we launched a new website to represent TBH Creative. Over the past three years we've kept the content current and regular new content through blogging. We've added a few features such as responsive breakpoints to make it more mobile friendly. Even with these ongoing changes, it was time to launch an all new website to take advantage of new technology and design trends.

CSS Flexbox

Laying out elements on a website has always come with its challenges due to the limitations of CSS. With the growth of responsive design, this issue has become increasingly apparent. To address this issue, the CSS Flexible Box Layout Module was developed.

Even though Flexbox is currently in the W3C candidate recommendation stage (meaning it is yet to be finalized and has limited browser support), it's still important to understand what all it can do. This article provides an introduction to Flexbox, including its main features and how it can be used.

Flexbox overview

Flexbox takes CSS layout to the next level, providing more advanced control over the elements in a website layout. As its name implies, the key feature of Flexbox is indeed flexibility. It provides an easier way for elements to adapt to their containing element, allowing the alignment, wrapping, and order of elements to be quickly adjusted.

Flexbox eliminates the need to use floats and other display properties in order to arrange elements on a page. It introduces a new set of CSS properties that can be used to control layout. These new properties can be enabled simply by adding display: flex to an element.

Let's take a look at some examples of the most useful Flexbox properties.

Alignment: Flexbox can be used to quickly align elements with it's justify-content property. The example below shows how the same navigation links can be aligned in multiple ways. Perfectly centering content can sometimes be challenging using CSS, but Flexbox makes it as simple as changing a property value.

Various alignment options using the "justify-content" property.

Direction: The flex-direction property provides advanced control over the direction of elements. It can be used to arrange elements into rows or columns, or to reverse the order of elements within a container.

Sections can easily be reversed or changed to rows or columns using the "flex-direction" property.

Order: Flexbox allows the elements on a website to be re-ordered without altering the website's HTML, which is one of its most attractive features. This can be done using the order property. The higher the number of the order property, the lower on the page an element appears. In the example below, the navigation starts off at the top of the page. By changing the order property of the navigation, it moves below the content. This is especially useful for responsive websites, so elements can be easily shifted in order of importance.

The sections on this page have been re-ordered using the Flexbox "order" property.

This is just a brief overview of what you can accomplish with Flexbox. To dive deeper into Flexbox properties, check out the Complete Guide to Flexbox.

Browser support

Browser support for Flexbox is growing, but not all browsers support it just yet. Furthermore, some browsers support Flexbox, but use an older version of its syntax. Check out the Flexbox browser support chart at to find out more.

The future of Flexbox

Flexbox brings some much needed improvements to CSS layout. With browser support increasing, it can soon be widely utilized, so it's important to understand how powerful it can be. Creating flexible, responsive websites will be easier than ever with the advanced control that Flexbox provides.

Three simple ways to make your website more successful

You have a great website. The calls to action are clear and people are going where you want them to go. Your content is good and people can clearly tell what you have to offer. Your navigation is simple and easy to use. Good for you! You've covered the basics. Now - what can you do to make your website MORE successful?

1. Keep it current.

You might have the most beautifully designed website with the clearest navigation but if the words on the page are outdated, you've lost your audience. Regularly updated, fresh content is key to getting people to respect the validity of your website and gain repeat visitors. Consider having a section on the home page that you update at least weekly. Look for opportunities to update interior pages with your latest programs, events and other news. If you make a change to your offerings - don't let a week go by without updating your website. Not sure how to make these changes? You have two basic choices: have an ongoing maintenance agreement with your web developer or look at a Content Management System (CMS) so that you can make updates yourself. Either option is a good investment of your money and time. Don't let your fabulous website grow cobwebs.

Learn more about Proactive Site Maintenance and Content Management.

2. Make it responsive.

How does your website look on a smart phone or tablet? If you don't know, take a minute and look. Is it easy to read? Easy to use? Does the content fit the screen? If not, it's time to look at some design modifications. You could opt for a mobile design where the site will appear slightly different to users who visit with a phone or tablet. A more long term solution, however, is responsive design. This option takes your current site design and makes it smart enough to scale to fit any size screen. According to Pew Internet Research, as of May 2013 56% of American adults have a smart phone and 34% of adults own a tablet computer. Those numbers are consistently on the rise, which means your mobile-viewing audience is also. Make sure your site isn't turning away visitors with smart phones and tablets.

Site at full screen resolution - as seen on laptops or desktops.

Site at smaller resolution - as seen on a smart phone.

Learn more about the Importance of Responsive Design.

3. Tie it to social media.

By social media we mean Facebook, Twitter, Google+, blogs, Pinterest and a host of sites and services that people are using to connect and share information. If you don't have a presence on those services, it's time to investigate and see what's the best fit for your organization and audience. If you do have a presence on those services, it's time to make sure they are part of a larger Internet strategic plan. Social media is an excellent way to drive traffic to your website - and ultimately your business. You should be promoting your social media on your website while promoting your website on your social media.

Learn more about Social Media & Your Business.

There you have it! Making your website more successful is as easy as 1 - 2 - 3!

Bonus Tip: don't be afraid to change things up. Monitor your site with analytics - watch where people are clicking and how long they are staying on key pages. You might need to consider a change in navigation. You might need to look at different types of content to drive interest and traffic - videos or email newsletters for example. The important thing to remember is that a website launch is just the beginning of any well-developed Internet Strategic Plan.

Hack the future: A recap of the Future of Web Design conference

New York City's Time Square is usually bustling with tourists talking about seeing Broadway shows and visiting Central Park, but in early October an unusually high number of web developers and designers took over AMC Theatre on 42nd Street to talk about the Internet during the Future of Web Design (FOWD)'s "Future Insights" conference.

A couple of us from TBH Creative were among the nerds geeking out about how to make the web better, and this is our first recap of the some of the best tidbits were learned during those jam-packed three days of networking, creative inspiration, and tech talk.

Be mobile-minded

If there was one universal touch-point for each presentation, it was mobile-mobile-mobile! Everyone from former New York Times design director Khoi Vinh to Couch to 5K creator Josh Clark to user experience guru Sophie Kleber talked about the importance of designing experiences for the instant era where the "web is a beautiful, big, messy place."

Noteworthy numbers—

  • 91%: The percentage of Americans own a cell phone (versus 76%, the percentage who own a computer)
  • 5 feet: The furthest distance most smart phone users are ever from their device
  • 58 minutes: The average amount of time smart phone users spend on their device everyday 
  • 17%: The percentage of all traffic worldwide from mobile devices
  • 40%: The percentage of time spend on the web using mobile devices

Sound advice—

  • "Device is context."
  • "Pushing mobile frontier means designing for sensors and a network of social devices."
  • "Websites should be responsive. Don't bump them off to an app unless there's a value to the app. Some apps may still be appropriate but when it comes to mobile, most of the time they're still basically like an extra pinky toe."
  • "If people get to your site by search on their mobile device, make sure it will work when they get there."
  • "Phones are personal items. Tablets are hearth fires."
  • "Performance is the most important thing when it comes to responsive design."
  • "Responsive design isn't a fad. It's just design and design is fundamentally commercial."
  • "The best apps are kings of pain. The more specifically you define your user, customer, or use case, the better your design will be. Sometime that's for everyone is for no one. Going narrow makes your job easier: easier to find customers, easier to know what features to include, and easier to understand the competition."
  • "The best touch interface is sometimes no touch at all." 
  • "Design for different barriors to action, no matter if the platform is a phone, tablet, or desktop. Just because a user can doesn't mean they will."
  • "Responsive is not a line item. It is design."

The business of making stuff

Successful web developers and designers are also successful business people. They get proactive problem solving and understand small wins matter. A lot of the FOWD speakers shared tidbits for maximizing successes on the job that ring true no matter what you do for a living.

Sound advice—

  • "When problem framing, ask why! Keep asking why until you get to the root cause of why a stakeholder or client is stuck on a position. Once you get there, then ask: 'What's stopping you?'"
  • "Doing stuff and doing stuff the 'long hard stupid way' is the only way of doing things that are good. But when it doesn't matter, get a move on!"
  • "Mistakes and errors are just part of the learning process. It's not about the programming. It's about the mindset, taking risks and helping each other."
  • "If you build it, they won't necessarily come right away. There's no such thing as an overnight success. The things you set out to build at the beginning are rarely what you have in the end. It often takes many failures to get results. The secret? Persistence."
  • "'I'm trying' is a damn better answer than 'Because I didn't have to.'"
  • "Establish business goals upfront then ask the clients if the design helps achieve the goals, not if the clients 'like' the design." 
  • "Freedom is overrated. Deadlines and guidelines help."
  • "If you're not embarrassed by the first version of your product, you launched too late. Change is okay. Tools evolve. You have to prioritize. Change requires more than a five minute investment to try and adapt. Just because a tool doesn't solve your every need doesn't mean it can't help."

Design responsibly

From web accessibility issues to psychology for designers, FOWD speakers had a lot of recommendations for how designers and developers can reduce everyday frustrations for users and create better websites.

Sound advice—

  • "Every user is a non-javascript user while the page is loading."
  • "Consider performance an element of design. Keep in mind that most users will leave a website if it takes longer than five seconds to load."
  • "Be future friendly and prepare for the unknown by being backwards compatible and enhancing upwards. When evaluating new technologies, always filter through the lens of the long web."
  • "With the way that users behave nowadays, we can no longer make users jump through hoops. Don't make users click unnecessarily. A click becomes a commitment, whereas scrolling requires very little commitment. Design should not stand in the way an app or website works."
  • "A designer who doesn't understand psychology is going to be no more successful than an architect who doesn't understand physics."
  • "Design a sign-up form like a conversation."
  • "It's not what we don't know that will kill us. It's what we fully ignore. Don't seek the truth. Just drop your opinions. For a web design to be successful, it must communicate."
  • "No safe universal colors exist, but effective use of contrast helps increase legibility with contrast between light and dark colors being the most important. Complimentary color pairs work better than adjacent colors. The easiest trick for checking contrast is to work in grayscale."
  • "The first rule of ux is that you cannot NOT communicate. You have to care. Think about your product as a series of interactions that cause stress or pleasure."
  • "Bundle content by units of meaning. Cluster topics within tags to tell stories. To make archives more relevant is to be increasingly relevant on the platforms where people already are. Our stories are data with a soul."
If you follow the #fowd hashtag, you can see more from this event and their upcoming conference in London. Next up: A summary of some of the best apps and websites recommended by FOWD speakers.

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