Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Editable Tables

This week's post is about adding functionality to your website or web application.  Specifically, we are going to take a quick look at editable tables.

Tables are very useful when it comes to looking at information in an organized way.  They have an obvious layout which makes them easy to use - usually.  But, often with tables on websites, you get just a table.  You can not reorganize the table to better view the information you want.  And if information needs to be changed... forget it.

Well, not so fast!  With modern browsers, some JavaScript, and some PHP on the back-end, you CAN have sortable, re-organizable, editable tables right on your website - think "spreadsheet."  Yes, with the right developer creating the right code, you can even have the tables update and recalculate numbers.

The animation here shows a simple table of clients (made up).  The company name for one of the clients is being updated.

This is just a simple example for this blog post.  As mentioned above, the functionality of an editable table can be like a spreadsheet application.  Your website can be more than just a place to display information.  It can be an interactive, truly useful application.

If you have an idea for making your website more interactive and useful (for you and/or your visitors), please feel free to contact us at  You can also visit the Freelance I.T. Solutions website at :)

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Bye-Bye Internet Explorer 8, 9, and 10!

Microsoft is ending support for Internet Explorer versions 8 - 10 (aka, IE).  If you are in the tech industry or follow tech news, you probably already know this.  But, there are sure to be some who have not heard and more that don't know what to do about it.  (For those of us that develop websites and applications, this is good news)!

First, if you are using Windows 8.1 / RT 8.1 or above, you are okay.  If you are running Windows 8.0 or down (Windows RT, Windows 7, Windows Vista, or Windows XP), you should update.

Internet Explorer 8-10 will still work when browsing the web, so why is it important to update?  The most important reason is security.  IE is pretty well known to be a security risk anyway.  But, as long as Microsoft was supporting it, they would patch problems when they were found.  That will no longer happen.  (And believe me, the bad guys are counting on you not updating for just that reason).  Also, as new features for browsing and using the web and web applications come along, you won't be able to take advantage of them, since many are depending on the software running 'in' your browser (like JavaScript).

So, how can your check your version and update if you need to?  The easiest thing to do is follow this link to Microsoft's browser download page.  It will let you know what version you are running and give you options for upgrading, if necessary.  If this link doesn't work, or you don't trust it, use these direction:
  1. Open Internet Explorer.
  2. Tap or click on the Tools button - this may look like a little gear.
    1. If you don't have the Tool bar visible, click or tap on Help in the menu bar.
  3. Tap or click About Internet Explorer.
  4. Then select the Install New Versions Automatically checkbox and close the window.
Now Windows will update your version of Internet Explorer during your next auto-update.  (Depending on your settings, it may begin the update immediately).

For your own protection - you should update ASAP!

*Note: if you get the options to update/move to Edge, you should do it.  This is Microsoft's latest browser.  And it's much better than IE.

If you need any help, feel free to contact us on Facebook, Google+ or our website.

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Launching a Killer Website

Your website should serve many functions and will probably have many parts. A website can mean so much to your business, it should be a serious undertaking – have a dream, plan, design and develop, and debug. While your website can be and do many things, it should have one primary goal. That goal might be to generate leads, sell products, educate visitors, establish your company as a solid leader in your industry – whatever it is, that goal should be the focus through the design and development of every part of the site. Below are four guiding principles that can assure you have a killer website!

(1) Create Pages that Engage Readers Quickly
According to a study by, the average first-time visitor to your site will judge your website in about two-tenths of a second! Within the next 2.5 seconds they will confirm that judgment. If it's negative, they're gone.

For many potential clients/customers, your website will be their first impression of your business. They should see a clean, organized site. Navigation should be easy to find and follow. And your site should be unique – a reflection of your brand. These strategies will help keep visitors on your site, retaining readers and possibly turning them into clients/customers.

  • Grab Attention with Large Images - It's no secret that images grab attention. A large, quality images will grab attention and quickly convey your message and your site's purpose. More companies are using large photographs or even page wide videos as homepage backgrounds.

  • Keep Text Short and to the Point - If is right, you have less than three seconds to grab your visitor's attention. Long paragraphs will only discourage them from reading further. Keep your message short and clear. Use bullet points if necessary, but don't have long lists. Have a clear call-to-action link or button - “get the demo,” “buy now,” “request a quote” “get our newsletter.” Your call-to-action will depend on the goal of your site or page. But, there should be one on every page and it should be prominent.
  • Be Smart with Colors - Color can increase brand recognition. Think about a Coke can. You probably will recognize the red can as Coke even without seeing the logo. And in the store you quickly recognize the difference between Pepsi, Diet Pepsi and Pepsi Max just be the color of the cans/bottles. Large companies spend a lot of money on research before changing colors associated with their products. You should put some serious time and thought into your colors – what colors will be complementary and work well together? What colors will appeal to your target audience? Which colors complement the emotion you are trying to associate with your brand?
  • Use Flat Design – Specifically Flat Design 2.0 - Even if you don't know what 'flat design' is, you probably know what it looks like. Since the introduction of iOS 7, iPhones and iPads have been using a flat design. And Windows 8 through 10 all use a flat design. It is the absence of drop shadows, textures and gradients. and the use of easy to read fonts. The 2.0 version of flat design uses light shadows, highlights and layers to give elements a little bit of depth. Also, you might find some elements (buttons for example) that will use a slight gradient.

(2) Be Responsive
While I have heard (pretty good) arguments that some business types do not need mobile ready sites, the fact is that mobile use is rising every year. In 2014, mobile internet usage overtook desktop usage. A Yahoo study showed that consumers spent 47% more time on mobile devices in 2015 than in 2014. Facebook reports that more users access their site from mobile devices than from desktops.
This all means that potential clients/customers will likely browse your company website from a smartphone or tablet and your site should be ready. Visitors who encounter sites that are not mobile friendly will likely get frustrated and form a negative opinion of your company. When visitors leave your site quickly it can increase what is know as the 'bounce rate.' And this can effect your ranking with search engines.

Fortunately, there is something called Responsive Design which allows your site to adapt to the different screen sizes of different devices. Responsive design means one site can work for the desktop, tablet and smartphone. Make sure your new or revamped site uses responsive design.

(3) Your Website Should be the Center of Attention
It is a good idea to have a business account and page with the major social media sites – Facebook, Google+, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc. But your posts and status updates on these sites are just little pieces of your business – tiny morsels to wet the appetite of your potential clients/customers. Your social media posts should always point visitors to your website. This is where you will make the biggest impression.

Use your website to engage your visitors. Use blogs, photo galleries, videos, and forums to showcase projects, show your knowledge in your field, and provide customer service. Engage in real conversations with your visitors. Encourage clients/customers to share reviews or testimonials – consumers are more likely to shop on sites with personal recommendations.

All of this content and engagement will also improve SEO. Content provided by you and your clients is likely to contain keyword phrases that will help your search engine ranking. And search engines rank visitor-generated content high. Use forums, Q&A sessions, and service conversations to keep visitors on our site longer. Share links to other areas of your site as often as possible to get visitors to explore.

Your website is the most valuable piece of real estate your business has. You have full control over everything about it – use it wisely!

(4) Make It Flow
Easy site navigation was mentioned in (1) above. But, it's important enough to get its own number! If visitors can't find the information they need easily, they will leave your site. And the bad news is, they won't have the patients to look for long. You and your developer should put
serious thought into the flow of your site – which pages should get prime menu space? Which pages should be placed in dropdown or slideout menus? Which pages should be placed in secondary menus in sidebars or in the footer?

When considering how to best set up your site's navigation, consider your business type and your audience. Is there a structure that is standard for your business type – something your visitors will expect? Again, if your first-time visitors cannot find things where they expect, they won't look for long. There are other businesses that have the same products / services. If their sites are easier to navigate, they will likely capture the business. It is always important to remember, even if your site looks great, if the visitor can't find the info they are looking for, you've missed the bulls-eye.

Your website plays a significant role in building your business and your brand. Whether this is your first website or you are re-launching a site, you must spend the time and (yes) money to do it right. If not, you are missing out on the most influential marketing tool you have.

For more information on building great websites and mobile apps, visit our website at  Or contact us here.