Category: web design

What is Responsive Web Design?

Responsive web design is a way to create a website that adapts to different display sizes and orientations. Or more simply, design a website to display nicely on any device. The size of content and amount of information that can be effectively displayed varies with different screen and device sizes. Responsive design allows for a site to adapt to these different devices and display the optimal amount of information at the optimal size.

Most people using mobile devices have experienced a site with too much content and content that was intended for a much larger display. A site that works displays content in a specific manner for specific screen sizes.

Web developers interested in using responsive design should take advantage of the following css to implement responsive design:

@media screen and(max-width: 500px) {
#column_a { width: 50%; }
#column_b{ width: 50%; } }

This example would apply the css for these two columns to all screen width that are 500 pixels wide or narrower.

A website that uses responsive design has separate code for different screen sizes. These screen sizes are determined by user defined breakpoints. For example: we might decide that we want the site to appear a certain way for every screen with a width of 300 pixels of less. To do this, we would write code to determine how the site should behave for this size. However, we would likely have several different breakpoints to code for. Widths from 300 to 700 pixels might have their own code. Widths from 700 pixels to 1,000 pixels might have another chunk of code, then everything from 1,000 pixels upwards would have its own code as well.

One common approach to this type of design is to create several columns of content. Then, depending on the width of the device, your code will define how many columns wide to display the content. If the screen is smaller, the columns will be stacked on top of each other rather than being displayed side by side.

The result is that the right amount of content will be displayed and at the correct size. When done right, this will be true no matter what device you use to view the website, including both mobile and desktop devices.

Screenshot examples from screenshot screenshot screenshot example

Here are some tips for making a responsive design website:

  • Consciously prioritize your content to make the best use of the limited space.
  • When your screen is smaller, the most important information should be displayed prominently, and the rest of the content may require scrolling or separate links to access it.
  • Prioritizing content also means recognizing where your valuable keywords and phrases are being used to make sure these are not lost.
  • You will also need to ensure that you do not lose your calls to action.

Some other parts of your content that are not a normal priority may become priorities when you use your site from a smaller display. A prime example of this is your contact information. Usually mobile visitors are significantly more likely to access your contact information, address, map, phone number, etc.

For more information regarding web design contact Cascade e-Commerce Solutions, Inc. at or visit our website at

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Posted in Online Marketing

Is It Time To Go Mobile?

Smart baby

With cell phones in the hands of kindergartners these days and the massive move to Smart Phones, business owners are starting to question if their websites need to go mobile too. Even if owners and employees aren’t using the latest technologies it doesn’t stop their clients from using mobile technologies to research businesses, look up addresses, or make an order. There are a few simple questions to ask yourself as you decide whether it is time to go mobile:

  1. Review your website’s traffic statistics. Google Analytics states how many of your web visits are from computers and how many are from mobile devices. Some businesses find that their site has a lot of mobile activity, whereas others have little.
  2. Review your website (and competitor sites) through several mobile devices. How does your site look on an iPhone, Android, etc.? Is it readable? Can you tell at a glance what the business does/offers? Can you click to call or email? Can you view pages without having to zoom or scroll constantly?
  3. Review feedback from web visitors and customers. Have customers asked for a mobile site? For every one person that contacts you on an issue/question, six others are thinking it also and just not communicating.
  4. Get feedback from your staff. Are there functions that would be simplified or expedited with a more friendly mobile presence?

So Once We’ve Decided We Need a Better Mobile Presence, Now What?

Determine Whether You Need an App or a Mobile-Friendly Website.

  • An App (application) requires a software download by the customer to the handheld device. An app is necessary when all or part of the performance of a process is to be supported directly on the handheld device; examples are games, calendar systems, and contact management systems. An app also streamlines the access to web based systems such as social media systems. Creation of an app requires specific programming for each type device you want using it.
  • A Mobile Friendly Mini-Website is just a website that behaves nicely on a mobile device. Typically the layout and content is simpler than a website that has been designed for reading on a PC or laptop. A mobile website is preferred when the functions to be supported do not require significant processing on the mobile device. Examples include providing basic information, maps & directions, form requests, and orders. Creation of a mobile friendly mini-website is typically less expensive than the creation of an app because the programming expertise is more general – HTML, PHP, CSS, etc.

If you are interested in learning more about going mobile, contact us at

Also read Why You’ll Want a Mobile Site if You Plan to Keep Up With the Competition for more tips and information to consider if you’re thinking of going mobile.

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Posted in Business Advice, Online Marketing

20 Ways to Keep Search Engines from Listing Your Website

The Internet

In my years of optimizing websites for the search engines, I’ve often been called in to remedy business websites that have had disastrous results in the search engines. In each case a prior SEO service provider had employed abusive and/or neglectful strategies.

20 of these abuses and neglectful practices are listed below.

  1. The first thing on the home page is a link to someone elsew’s web site.
  2. A competitor’s website is inappropriately optimized for the business’ name and trademarked names.
  3. The web pages include hidden text (text that is in the same color as the web page background color).
  4. The web pages include hidden links (such as links from unseen graphics).
  5. The web pages have many identical web pages with different web addresses or page names.
  6. The site is built in frames without implementation of proper code.
  7. The home page is a Flash sequence with no text for the search engines.
  8. Every web page name includes lots of code language such as “&” (ampersands), “?” (question marks) and “=” (equals signs).
  9. Keyword phrases are based on guessing what people search for rather than on what keywords are actually used by searchers.
  10. Web pages have no original text (text is copied from other websites)
  11. Important text is placed into graphics.
  12. The web pages have no metatags.
  13. The same metatags are incorporated into every web page.
  14. The site’s text hasn’t been updated in years.
  15. The site’s code doesn’t meet current international standards.
  16. The navigation links are different on every page.
  17. There is no single web page that lists links to all the website’s pages.
  18. The navigation takes visitors forward to lots of dead ends with no ability to link back.
  19. The web pages include many links to missing pages and graphics.
  20. The site uses free sub-domain hosting, which even if disguised with redirects can harm your search presence.

In many cases, the business’ leadership doesn’t know these abusive and neglectful strategies have been employed. However, those businesses that have allowed me to remove these strategies and employ proven, ethical strategies which have experienced very positive results.

If you suspect that your site may suffer from these abusive or neglectful strategies please email us at

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Why We Love WordPress

Heart Shaped Boxes

The WordPress trademark “W” icon is found all over the web. If you haven’t noticed it yet, you will now that you are looking for it. Still it would be easy to underestimate the number of WordPress sites since only a fraction of their designs highlight the “W”. Would you have guessed that this is a WordPress site?

(View the source and see the letters “wp” throughout the code.)

WordPress is a content management system for websites and blogs. The reason for the “W” icon’s prevalence is because WordPress is a fantastic tool.

WordPress really distinguishes itself from the average content manage system. It is all the little things that really make the difference. One of those distinguishing characteristics is their separation of pages and blog posts. This makes it incredibly easy to run a website and manage a blog. All the blog posts are automatically partitioned into a separate section of the site devoted to the blog. When using a certain WordPress Plugin, your most recent blog posts can be automatically featured in a Recent Blog Posts section of your site.

We are big fans the functionality that is available through WordPress. WordPress offers a tool with great utility through “Plugins”. WordPress Plugins are website features created by a community of WordPress developers. These Plugins are website features that can simply be plugged in to existing sites. Think of it as a virtual electrical outlet which can take whatever appliance your site needs. We have clients using Plugins for slideshows, calendars, photo galleries, and more. A business with frequent events and activities might benefit from a calendar Plugin, such as the one we setup for Angle Lake Neighborhood Church ( We were even able to help Studio Mene ( have a website that can toggle between English and Japanese via a WordPress Plugin. Our favorite WordPress Plugin is the SEO All-In One tool. This helps the site’s contributors comply with SEO guidelines using little to no effort. The tool uses a fill in the blank form which generates essential HTML elements for SEO.

The ability for the less tech-savvy to manage a site is what our web designers and clients appreciate most about WordPress. Content can be added and modified without any knowledge of HTML or CSS. It is as simple as clicking a button to create a new page. Creating the content for the page is similar to using MS Word. Simply type your content and insert pictures or videos. WordPress will automatically apply your theme and styles to the content you ad.

WordPress themes allow the average client to have substantial influence on the design with minimal effort. By browsing through themes, a client can choose a starting point. Once a theme is decided upon, elements from other themes can readily be implemented too. These themes allow a client to have a great deal of creative influence if they wish, without requiring the technical knowledge. A site can be as close to or as far from a template as desired.

The typical WordPress site by Cascade e-Commerce Solutions Inc. has all the functionality of a WordPress site, but without the appearance of a cookie cutter creation. CeSI sites are unique, professional and allow anyone to generate the content.

For more examples of CeSI WordPress implementations explore the following websites:

Even more CeSI sites can be found at

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How to Keep a Website Current so That it Sells

It’s important to keep a website up to date to keep it relevant to the search engines and website visitors. As search engines crawl websites, new content (new files, updated date and time stamps and revised file sizes) prompt the search engine robots to re-index the site’s web pages and this in turn can bolster the search engine ranking positions for the site’s pages . Furthermore, as technology changes website aesthetics go out of style (think digital jean jackets).

Even businesses that are actively involved in online marketing and frequently updating their website eventually need a complete rework. These projects end up being great experiences for the web designers and clients. CeSI recently had the pleasure of working with Federal Way Custom Jewelers to rework their site.

New Site

The company is a locally owned custom jeweler that has been serving the Puget Sound for over 55 years. Back when their old website was implemented, the average computer monitor was significantly smaller and narrower. Originally, with much narrower screens (800 pixels wide) the bright purple background occupied much less of the screen and was hence a more subtle background. Modern screens however are widescreen displays. Even small laptops are 15 inch wide screens that can be 1600 pixels wide and desktop monitors can go upwards of 24 inches. On these newer displays the page content remained the same narrow width and the purple background filled the remaining space. As a result visitors to the old site design that had modern monitors were blasted with a purple background because it took up most of their screen. This rather literal eyesore became a problem. The jeweler’s image was intended to convey elegance, class and taste. Unfortunately a wall of bright purple did not accomplish this.

Old Site

Today their site is completely different. First, the content has been widened to fill modern wide screens. Another improvement was done to the background; they chose a tasteful and more subdued background pattern. Now visitors can focus on the main content. Another thing that was done was applying a bit of a marketing touch to the site. The old site gave the visitors the option to find their own way throughout the site. Today their site is designed to draw visitors to the content that creates revenue. This was done by adding a call to action to each page. Their old site hoped that someone seeing their site would lead them to visit the store. The new version of the site has an appointment form that allows customers to interact with Federal Way Custom Jewelers directly through the website. The result of all these improvements is they now have a site that looks classy and drives sales.

Thinking of how your website could use a face lift? Below are six tips to keep your business website up to date.

  1. Widen the content frame
    Take a page out of Federal Way Custom Jeweler’s book and widen your website content. Screens are getting wider. If your site is designed for monitors that are only 800 pixels wide it might be time to upgrade. Not only does wider content have a newer look, but it allows you to get more page content above the fold.
    Flashing red and neon banners do not get anyone to buy anything. The only thing this does is get visitors to close the window faster. Avoid using stop colors. Don’t use all caps. You can draw attention to important aspects of your site with brighter versions of your theme colors and proper link/button placement. The same goes for sounds and videos. If it bothers you on other websites, don’t put it on yours.
  3. Drive Sales
    If you created your website with the intention of making money, you need to remember to keep this the focus. This concept can get lost sometimes. Each page should have the focus of driving sales. If you don’t have this focus already, try adding a call to action to every page. This means that if you sell widgets on your site, you should link to the widget catalog from every page. Use action verbs in this call to action such as “buy” or “purchase”. Try to make the homepage focus on selling those widgets too. Think of it like a virtual billboard. You wouldn’t pay for a billboard that didn’t try to sell.
  4. Add content regularly
    Your website shouldn’t stay completely static. You want to provide reasons for people and search engines to visit and revisit your site. Make sure to keep contact information and any products current. A great tool for keeping websites current is a blog. Try adding a new blog post every few days. Fresh blog content keeps people and search engines coming back to your site. You can even get traffic for new keywords if you include those in your post content and titles.
  5. Check Browser Compatibility
    Internet protocol is constantly updating. If you can’t remember what year you last updated your website design, then it’s a good time to consider this. Taking your site out of tables, an old website build strategy, moving JavaScript or style from the code to separate files, cleaning up the code and verifying that the code is up to international web standards will help improve page load speed and help search engines get right to the content of your page. You can update the site’s code and keep your design or you can update the code and go for a modern look. Updating your website’s code doesn’t have to cost an arm and a leg. CeSI will often do this for new clients that find their code to be an obstacle.

If you’ve thought your company’s website could lose a few cobwebs consider these tips. These are easy ways to dramatically improve your site. After all, it is a lot easier to change your website than it is to throw away your favorite jean jacket (really, they are perfectly acceptable as pants, why not jackets?).

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Why You’ll Want a Mobile Site if You Plan to Keep Up With the Competition

Smart Service Mobile Site

Mobile sites are a powerful and relatively new tool for businesses. At CeSI we think they are a valuable tool and we are glad to see some of our clients beginning to adopt them.

A typical consumer already has built up a certain amount of interest in your offerings before they ever contact your business. This is sales work that the customer has done for you. If you wait to talk to the customer they might second guess their perceived need, or worse, explore a competitor’s offerings. A mobile site is a great way to expedite interaction with potential customers.

The following theoretical scenario involves one business with a mobile site, and one without:

Steve’s Modern Widgets and Murry’s Old Fashion Widgets. Both businesses sell the same thing. In fact Murry’s Old Fashion Widgets even has a website ( it hasn’t been updated since 1802 ). Some consumer out there, let’s name him Lotzi Monet (he’s a rich descendant of a famous French painter) is in his limo and gets to thinking that his business could use some new widgets. Instead of sitting idly by, he hops on his smart phone and starts checking out widgets online. He checks out Murry’s site first, but Murry doesn’t have a mobile site. Lotzi becomes impatient attempting to navigate a standard site on his mobile phone and tries Steve’s Modern Widgets instead.

“Success!”, Lotzi Monet declares. He has been redirected to Steve’s mobile site. Rather than go home and get online to buy widgets later, Lotzi takes out his oversized wallet to get his credit card nmber and buys his new widgets right then and there.

With the widespread adoption of mobile phones, businesses can react faster to consumers and make sales where they never could before.

However, mobile content is a new and slightly different medium. CeSI has a few tips to help with this new challenge.

  1. Keep it simple. You have limited space; don’t try to do too much. Very few people can paint a masterpiece on a 2” x 3” canvas. Adjust your goals accordingly. Think plainly with utility in mind. Put yourself in the customers’ shoes and try to imagine three or four things that a customer would most want from your site. Make these few objectives the goals for your mobile site.
  2. Focus on a call to action. One thing that should remain unchanged is the focus on a call to action. You can cut out almost everything in an attempt to simplify your mobile site, however leave the call to action on the site. You have a website because you want to make sales, and you are getting a mobile site because you want more sales. Try to steer your visitors towards making a purchase.
  3. Adjust the window size automatically. Mobile devices come in all shapes and sizes. Unlike a typical website that will appear on wider screen sizes, a mobile site needs to work for both narrow and wide screen sizes. Your customers may be browsing on something that is 2”x 2” or they may have a tablet screen almost as big as a laptop. Your site needs to work for both. This means buttons, and windows that scale. You don’t want the iPad user squinting or the iPhone user pulling out a magnifying glass.
  4. Include a button to the full site. Your average mobile visitor will find what they need on your nifty mobile site. However, you don’t want to restrict them. Include a prominent link that will take them to your standard site. This ensures that anything they can’t find on your mobile site is accessible regardless.

CeSI recently implemented a mobile site for Smart-Service, an independent Subaru auto repair company. Historically, Smart Service has been early to adopt new Internet marketing strategies. The company has made great use of their blog and as a result has built a reputation online as an expert in their field. Their success prompted us to recommend starting a blog to other clients.  A well run blog can enhance a business’ reputation and boost the business’ presence in search engines. Smart Service was ahead of the crowd with online maps as well. Before every site had Google Maps they had custom maps to accompany the directions on their site. Today we recommend that every client, capable of doing so, claim their online maps listings in Google, Bing and Yahoo. Smart Serivce was also one of our first clients to have us implement the Facebook “like button” on key pages of their website.  We are happy to help other businesses implement similar strategies to market their products and services.  Please feel free to email us at to request more information or phone 206-244-9092.  We’d be happy to help your business get more from its Internet marketing.

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Faith Network

In our modern internet based world a website can make or break a company.  If a website appears old or boxy it can lose its visual appeal to the visitor and come across as cheap or unprofessional.  Bellevue based Faith Network produces websites that are anything but outdated or unprofessional.

The Gathering Church Website by Faith Network

Specializing in websites for churches and Christian organizations, Faith Network’s web creations are sleek, hip and come equipped with extras such as blogs, podcast management, dynamic calendaring and photo/video galleries among many others.

Some of Faith Network’s clients have included Seattle’s Christian Faith Center and the stop human trafficking website as well as many other churches and faith based organizations around the country.  To learn more about Faith Network or inquire about a website for your business visit their website at

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10 Ways to Know When to Update Your Website

Web Redesign

You know it’s time to remake your company’s website when…

  1. A first-time visitor says, “Ahh, I see your website is from the Early Web Period.”
  2. Only your mother can find it.
  3. A new customer comes to your store, sits down and cries, “It didn’t look like this on the web!”
  4. Your staff informs you that the website just sold something you haven’t got.
  5. Your web master has disappeared and no one else can figure out how to make anything work.
  6. Your sales staff are ashamed to share the web address with anyone.
  7. Customers complain they can’t find what you say is there.
  8. Your logo and other design elements are new millennial and your website is past millennial.
  9. Your web stats show that lots of people are finding the website, but no one’s buying.
  10. A first-time visitor says, “Yuck. I never go beyond those drum beat and swhirly dot pages!”

You know you don’t need a website makeover when …

Your business is working at capacity, income exceeds out go, your customers are happy and your staff have no complaints.

If you’re looking to update your website call us at 206.244.9092 or email

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20 Ways to Fail at SEO

20 Ways to Keep Search Engines from Listing Your Website in Their Search Results
Person in Shock
In ten years of optimizing websites for the search engines, I’ve often been called in to remedy business websites that have had disastrous results in the search engines. In each case a prior webmaster or search engine optimization (SEO) service provider had employed abusive and/or neglectful strategies. 20 of these abuses and neglectful practices are listed below.

  1. The first thing on the home page is a link to another business’ website.
  2. The website has no original text (all text is copied from other websites).
  3. The website is built in frames which prevent search engine robots from accessing the actual text content.
  4. Important text is built into graphics, Adobe Acrobat PDF files and/or Flash files which search engine robots can’t read.
  5. The web pages include hidden text (text that is in the same color as the web page background color).
  6. The web pages include hidden links (such as links from unseen graphics).
  7. The web pages are built in a dynamic platform and employ a linking strategy that results in endless loops in which the same text content reappears with different web addresses (duplicate content).
  8. Web page names include lots of code language such as “&” (ampersands), “?” (question marks) and “=” (equals signs).
  9. The web pages have no metatags.
  10. The same exact metatags are used on every page in the website.
  11. Keyword phrases are based on guessing what people search for rather than on actual search data.
  12. The website’s text hasn’t been updated in years.
  13. The website’s code doesn’t meet current international standards.
  14. The navigation links are different on every page.
  15. There is no sitemap (page that lists links to all the website’s pages).
  16. The navigation takes visitors forward to lots of dead ends (pdf files and graphics with no navigation links that take people back to the website).
  17. The website includes many links to missing pages and graphics (broken links).
  18. The domain name changed and the webmaster failed to set up proper redirects.
  19. The web language changed and the webmaster failed to set up proper redirects.
  20. A competitor’s website has optimized its website for the business’ name and trademarked names without any challenge to the legality of this action.

In many cases, the business’ leadership didn’t even know that abusive and/or neglectful strategies had been employed.

If you suspect that your business’ website may suffer from inappropriate or outdated strategies, please feel free to contact me at or 206-244-9092.

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