7 Reasons to Stop Using Flash

Adobe FlashAdobe Flash enables unmatched interactivity, protects source code, and it is especially well-suited for animation and media. Used in moderation, it can add necessary interactive elements or movement to bring a website to life. However, there are several reasons why we suggest not building an entire website or having your main website functionality (menu or main message) within Flash.

Not Search Engine Friendly: Just recently Google and Yahoo search engines have gained the capabilities to read Flash files – that is IF developers carefully include many additional steps when configuring the flash movie. There are still limitations in what links search engines can crawl or index. This means the text contained within the flash may not be picked up by search engines, which prohibits search engines from being found and listing this vital content to your prospective customers. Google still suggests to use Flash sparingly.

Immobile: Being the mobile society we are (an estimated 6.8 billion mobile phones worldwide in 2018) – it’s really disappointing for the millions of cell phone users that stumble across a website they CANNOT view because it is entirely flash based and says “You must have Flash Player to view this.” The Flash architecture is designed to work with desktop/laptop computers and not iPhones. Though Apple is in talk with Adobe for incorporating Flash, the deal seems indefinite at this point.

Lack of Consistent Cross-Platform Support: We’ve all had the Internet Explorer woe, and inserting Flash isn’t as simple as adding HTML tags to a document. You will need JavaScript support to help assist certain browsers in loading the page. Furthermore, there are all sorts of peculiarities that you’ll notice when integrating Flash elements into your webpage.

Slow Load (yawn): Flash sites are great, but take an eternity to load, thus the reason for the “Loading” image. You will notice that just about all “flash websites” load significantly slower than their HTML counterpart.

Flash Player Required: Having just bought a new computer, I had to download the Flash Player from the Adobe website in order to be able to view Flash animations. However, people can choose not to download it, thereby not seeing potentially valuable content on your site.

Accessibility: Adobe Flash is not accessible to those with vision impairments or who use text readers without MAJOR modifications. Therefore, without these critical modifications these Flash sites cannot be read. Most government and higher education websites must be Section 508 Compliant – which Flash is not.

Cost: The most obvious disadvantage of Flash is the high-priced software, around $700. The additional cost of purchasing the software’s, and the cost required for maintenance and upgrades to the latest versions turn out to be unreasonable for small business owners and web developers. HTML on the other hand is highly affordable.

Though Flash is useful in some cases, we believe it is important to know the limitations of utilizing this technology when building websites or selecting a developer for your site.

20 Fantastic Features for Real Estate Websites

real-estate-websitesCreate trust and encourage repeat visitors and prospective buyers by utilizing great features on your site that keep interest high. Following are some great ways to do just that - as well as personalizing your website and online presence with great features visitors are sure to love:

  1. Mobile Ready or Responsive Website - of the 7 billion people on earth, 4.2 billion possess a toothbrush while 6.8 billion have a cell phone. Mobile internet usage has surpassed desktop internet usage. This means more users will be searching for new homes on their smart phones more than ever. Your website should only involve scrolling, not zooming and scrolling. Your site should show mostly text and search and not look like a mini version of your desktop version. Mobile Ready sites load quicker and are optimized for easier reading on a phone screen.
  2. Walk Score - Include the option for folks to check out the Walk Score of homes they are interested in. Here they can find what's local to walk to (cafes, restaurants, parks, etc) or check their commute time via car, bus or foot.
  3. CMA form - Allow sellers to fill out a form on your site that emails their information directly to you. This is a great way to get leads from your site.
  4. Personality, fun & color - show your personality by sharing photos of the fun you are having with clients or friends in local cafes, restaurants or events. Share these on your social media sites as well as on your "About me", Blog or other page on your site. This builds trust with prospects and let's them see you as a real person they can identify with when making one of the largest purchases of their life. Adding online games to your site (soduku anyone?) can also add to the return rates and increase length of time visitors stay on your site.
  5. Action! - Upload or link videos showcasing your area. Often your local visitors bureau or Chamber will have videos that highlight many great features of your area. Upload video introducing yourself or to display the great features of hard to sell or unique home you have listed. Including video or a slideshow will add movement and interest to otherwise static two-dimensional websites.
  6. Photos - photo posts on social sites receive 84% more clicks than text and link posts. Include a picture to support your post and keep in mind a picture really can be worth a thousand words! Each article on your website should include a photo so folks can pin and share it.
  7. Reviews - build trust and credibility on your website with prospects by displaying prior customers testimonials. Feel free to copy and paste them from off your Zillow, Yelp, LinkedIn or other website
  8. Social Bookmarking - Be sure to include on your pages the option for visitors to tweet, like or share your information. This gives your website information "legs" and can be a great source of free advertising for you.
  9. Search - the most popular feature visitors want on Real Estate websites is the ability to search for their perfect home. Make sure the search tool is quick and easy to use with basic elements home hunters want and need without being too complicated or too many required fields. "84% of smart phone users take action after performing local searches."
  10. Social Media links - Allow your visitors to easily find and connect with you on social sites. Be sure the links to Facebook, LinkedIn, Pinterest, etc open in a NEW window so visitors aren't taken away from your site.
  11. Tools - such as mortgage calculator and interest rates are great to have featured on your listings and/or search pages.
  12. Blog - Blogging can help your website in a myriad of ways! Be creative in your blog posts, show your humorous side, share local news and events - be the "go to" website for all things happening in your area!
  13. Local Resources - show your visitors that you are an expert on your local area. This builds trust and confidence with potential clients and offers visitors information they are seeking prior to moving to your area. Include things like demographics, utility info, movers, storage facilities, things to do, etc.
  14. Weather - Include a weather widget so out of towners can get an idea of what type of weather to expect when living there or if they are going out house hunting they know how to dress.
  15. Education - link to or create an article listing schools in your area including both public and private schools and higher education options.
  16. Subscribe Form - add an email subscribe form to your website and send out monthly or quarterly eblasts using a trusted provider like Constant Contact (to ensure you don't get banned from your email provider for SPAM complaints). Keep in touch with former and prospective clients by sharing what's new in town, highlight how the town is growing, new developments/building, what new listings you have and more information readers will find useful.
  17. Buyer & Seller Tips - who doesn't love great tips? Buying or selling a home is a stressful event! For buyers, it's one of the most important and largest purchases of their lives. Give buyers and sellers the information they need to make the sale or purchase as smooth as possible. Create checklists for moving, staging a home tips and other items that they are looking for.
  18. Listing Perks - where do you promote your listings? Print? Online? Social Media? List all the places and perks that sellers will get when they list with YOU. List the incentives and your expertise.
  19. Logos - MLS & Fair Housing Logos as well as your Broker logo or name are essential.
  20. Your Listings, Office Listings and Visual Tours - keep everything on your website and allow your website to do all the work. This way buyers can read and see everything about a home so they are more prepared once they contact you.

We design and develop great real estate websites!

Reel in Potential Attendees with Content

event-marketingShow and tell would-be guests why they should come to your event
When promoting your event to potential attendees, it sometimes takes more than just an invite with the who, what, where, and when details to get guests to commit. To get people off the fence and clicking the Register button, you may need to give them a taste of what's to come at your gathering and share why they should attend.

There are a number of ways you can use content to promote your event via your invitation, event homepage, email newsletters, social media, and your website to hook people into coming to your gathering, whether it's a class, webinar, open house, fundraiser, or party. Most importantly, your event invitation and/or homepage should provide the benefit attendees will get out of coming to your event. You could list three things they will learn, show who their donations will benefit, or include some of the items that will be available for auction at your gathering.

But there is more content that can be used to whet the appetite of those you want to attend your event, content that can used beyond the invitation and event homepage:

Have speakers write a blog post: If there are guest speakers at your event, ask them to write a quick blog post or article that previews what they will be talking about during your event. If there are multiple speakers, you could roll out posts over a number of days during the registration period to build excitement. Spur engagement by asking readers and attendees what questions they would ask the speaker and have them post their thoughts in the blog comments or to your Facebook Page.

Post videos of scheduled speakers: Some guest speakers may have video of previous talks available on YouTube or other public video sharing sites. If so, link to the video in your event communications or embed the video on your website for people to see. Such videos could provide context to what will be covered at your event (homework for attendees) or give a taste of the speaker's style and flair.

Book excerpts: Are any of your speakers or guests published authors? Ask them if you can publish an excerpt from their books as a way to promote their appearance at your event. Authors always want publicity, and the content from the book will help demonstrate the expertise that will be on display during your seminar or class.

Post thought-provoking articles: Find an article online with a topic related to your event? Post it to your social media accounts or link to it from your blog and ask readers to share their thoughts. Make sure to tie the question back to your event!

Photos of previous events: If your event is recurring and you have photos from previous gatherings, post them to your website, event homepage, Flickr account, Facebook Page, and/or include a couple in your email newsletters as way to show what attendees can expect when they come to your next event.

Tweet with an event-specific hashtag before, during, and after the event: When tweeting about your event, include a special hashtag (e.g. #wineclass2018) in each tweet and encourage other Twitter-using attendees to do the same. This will allow you and all your attendees to track the conversations surrounding your event and discover fellow attendees without having to first follow everyone on the invitation list. Tools such as Twitter Search, HootSuite, and TweetChat are great for following specific hashtags.

Top 5 Location-Based Social Media Sites

local social media marketingThe writing is on the wall. Let's acknowledge that location based social media sites or LBS are here to stay. They are not only cool, they are profitably cool. If you have not started using any of these social media sites to promote your business, it is high time that you do so. These sites make it possible for you to stay in touch with prospective buyers. There are a hoard of location based social media, and it is quite tough to choose the right one among them. So, here's our list of top 5 location based social media sites, and the gist of what they can do for you business.

Foursquare: Right now it is the most popular mobile application around. Thanks to the ever increasing user list of this location based social media site, you can connect with a lot of people. This is perfect for those who have just started using LBS or have a newly opened business. You can use the sites reward point facilities and “mayor of the venue” offer to your benefit. Foursquare is always open to the suggestion of providing badges for your brand of business. This is a chance for you to suggest your brand name and get a badge, which your frequent visitors can get and display on their own individual pages.

Facebook Places: As obvious, Facebook too has also come up with its own location based site - Facebook Places. If you want to inform the world about your arrival, then this is the right application to use. Right now, it is best suited for iPhone users; however, it is believed that the company will bring out different versions for Android and BlackBerry phones as well.

Groupon: Use this location based social media site to advertise your brand name, special deals, discounts, and reward points. Groupon is, undoubtedly, a great place to get immediate attention of your customers. Moreover, you can also use the referral scheme to encourage your buyers to ask their friends to check in as well.

Blippy: Set your Blippy account and quite instantly, you will know what people think about your products. People post the reviews of products that they have purchased or the movie they have seen. This makes the site an ideal tool for knowing the pulse of the population. Open your page and find out what people are saying about your offerings or what improvements and changes, if any, they expect. The application allows it to be merged with Facebook updates too.

Loopt: Amongst the hordes of location-based social media sites, Loopt is another site that you can depend on. This is a good site to stay updated about people within your vicinity, a good tool to stay connected with your friends and contacts. Moreover, you can announce rewards and make promotional moves highlighting location-based discounts. Another facility is the ability to use Loopt Star Facebook game to let people win coupons.