strategic design

Companies look to us for a variety of projects, from creating their latest annual report or corporate website to establishing a comprehensive brand identity from the ground up. Our strength lies in understanding the relationship between the concepts that create a coherent brand strategy.

What makes Hillman Design Group unique is our approach to problem solving. We incorporate strategic methodology to all aspects of the design process. We strive to understand and evaluate project requirements in order to create appropriate design solutions.

branding

At Hillman Design Group, a lot of the work we do involves helping businesses create strong brands. Whether we are creating an identity for a new company or broadening the scope of an existing one, we strive to create simple, efficient and long-term solutions.

That’s because design plays a pivotal role in defining corporate images, enhancing customer experiences and evoking emotional feelings about services or products. While you cannot control a person’s perception of your brand you can influence it by communicating the right messages about your products and/or services in clear and consistent ways.

print

Graphic design is not just about style. It’s about finding the best way to communicate your message. We’ll help you produce materials that speak to your audiences in strong and clear ways: from stationery systems and direct mailers to annual reports and corporate brochures, we develop strategic communications pieces that reflect your brand’s personality.

Our design work can be geared to match your existing brand image, or we’ll help you to define a new look for all your communications with a complete corporate identity.

digital

The Web is the ultimate customer-empowering environment. Your visitors decide where to go and what to see. And if they don’t like their experience, your competitors are just a click away.

That’s why we strive to develop highly usable interfaces that attract and keep customers. It means creating navigational structures that are easy and intuitive. Email campaigns, interactive Flash banners, social networking applications and websites are designed so users can find what they’re after in a fast and logical way. We stay on top of the trends, so that we can help our clients integrate the latest technologies.

Please contact us if you’d like to become one of our clients.

Giving WordPress Its Own Directory

Giving WordPress its Own Directory While Leaving Your Blog in the Root Directory

Many people want WordPress to power their site’s root (e.g. http://example.com) but they don’t want all of the WordPress files cluttering up their root directory. WordPress allows you to install the WordPress files to a subdirectory, but have your blog exist in the site root.

This process is not applicable to and does not work if you have enabled MultiSite.

The process to move WordPress into its own directory is as follows:

Create the new location for the core WordPress files to be stored (we will use /wordpress in our examples). (On linux, use mkdir wordpress from your www directory. You’ll probably want to use “chown apache:apache” on the wordpress directory you created.)

Go to the General panel.

In the box for WordPress address (URL): change the address to the new location of your main WordPress core files. Example: http://example.com/wordpress

In the box for Site address (URL): change the address to the root directory’s URL. Example: http://example.com

Click Save Changes. (Do not worry about the error message and do not try to see your blog at this point! You will probably get a message about file not found.)

Move your WordPress core files to the new location (WordPress address).

Copy (NOT MOVE!) the index.php and .htaccess files from the WordPress directory into the root directory of your site (Blog address). The .htaccess file is invisible, so you may have to set your FTP client to show hidden files. If you are not using pretty permalinks, then you may not have a .htaccess file. If you are running WordPress on a Windows (IIS) server and are using pretty permalinks, you’ll have a web.config rather than a .htaccess file in your WordPress directory. As stated above, copy (don’t move) the index.php file to your root directory, but MOVE (DON’T COPY) the web.config file to your root directory.

Open your root directory’s index.php file in a text editor

Change the following and save the file. Change the line that says:
require('./wp-blog-header.php');
to the following, using your directory name for the WordPress core files:
require('./wordpress/wp-blog-header.php');

Login to the new location. It might now be http://example.com/wordpress/wp-admin/

If you have set up Permalinks, go to the Permalinks panel and update your Permalink structure. WordPress will automatically update your .htaccess file if it has the appropriate file permissions.If WordPress can’t write to your .htaccess file, it will display the new rewrite rules to you, which you should manually copy into your .htaccess file (in the same directory as the main index.php file.)

How to make WordPress search engine friendly

WordPress software comes ready to embrace search engines. Its features and functions guide a search engine through the posts, pages, and categories to help the search engine crawl your site and gather the information it needs to include your site within its database.

WordPress comes with several built in search optimization tools, including the ability to use .htaccess to create apparently static URLs called permalinks, blogrolling, and pinging. There are also a number of third party plugins and hacks which can be used for search engine optimization (SEO).

However, after tweaking WordPress to your likings, you may find yourself dragging in search engine rankings. WordPress isn’t exactly the most SEO application out of the box, either.

Here are some basic guidelines to ensure your WordPress blog is search engine optimized.

Good, Clean Code

Make sure your site’s code validates. Errors in your code may prevent a search engine from moving through the site successfully.

Content Talks

Search engines can’t “see” a site. They can only “read” a site. Pretty does not talk to a search engine. What “talks” to a search engine are the words, the content, the material in your site that explains, shares, informs, educates, and babbles. Make sure you have quality word content for a search engine to examine and compare with all the parts and pieces to give you a good “score”.

Write Your Content with Searchers in Mind

How do you find information on the Internet? If you are writing something that you want to be “found” on the Internet, think about the words and phrases someone would use to find your information. Use them more than once as you write, but not in every sentence. Learn how search engines scan your content, evaluate it, and categorize it so you can help yourself get in good favor with search engines.

Content First

A search engine enters your site and, for the most part, ignores the styles and CSS. It just plows through the site gathering content and information. Most WordPress Themes are designed with the content as close to the top of the unstyled page as possible, keeping sidebars and footers towards the bottom. Few search engines scan more than the first third of the page before moving on. Make sure your Theme puts the content near the top.

Keywords, Links, and Titles Meet Content

Search engines do not evaluate your site on how pretty it is, but they do evaluate the words and put them through a sifter, giving credit to certain words and combinations of words. Words found within your meta tag keywords listings and within your document are compared to words found within your links and titles. The more that match, the better your “score.”

Content in Links and Images

Your site may not have much text, mostly photographs and links, but you have places in which to add textual content. Search engines look for alt and title in link and image tags. While these have a bigger purpose of making your site more accessible, having good descriptions and words in these attributes helps provide more content for search engines to digest.

It is not how good your site is, it is how good the sites are that link to you. This still holds weight with search engine favoritism. It’s about who links to you. Blogrolls, pingbacks, and trackbacks are all built into WordPress. These help you link to other people, which gives them credit, but it also helps them link to you, connecting the “links.” The number of incoming links your site has that have been recognized by Google can be checked by typing link:www.yoursite.com into Google (other search engines have similar functions). Other ways to generate incomming links to your site include: * Add your site’s url to your signature on forum posts on other sites. * Submit your site to directories (see below). * Note: Leaving comments on blogs will not help with this, since all modern blogging tools use the rel=”nofollow” attribute. Don’t be a comment spammer.

Good Navigation Links

A search engine crawls through your site, moving from page to page. Good navigational links to the categories, archives, and various pages on your site will invite a search engine to move gracefully from one page to another, following the connecting links and visiting most of your site.

Stay Connected

Besides building backlinks, it’s important to build actual connections with other bloggers and readers. Post regularly on other sites and get to know the people at the top of your genre. Stay up to date with the latest WordPress SEO techniques with Ontora Web Marketing.

 

About The Author:

Mark Spencer is currently a graphic designer living in Portland, Oregon and writes for Ontora, a web marketing blog.

How to SEO Your WordPress Blog

WordPress is one of the most seo friendly publishing systems today, but to get the best results you still need to tinker with it a little bit!

So let’s see what steps you need to take to modify WordPress so it will turn into a true seo CMS:

1. Permalinks structure: the default structure is no good at all – although search engines have no problem in indexing pages that have urls with variables, it’s very clear that they prefer clean urls.

The best results I have seen are when permalinks structure is set to “%postname%”, and only that. This is something to keep in mind for any site you build, WordPress or any other CMS.

2. Related posts plugin: this is good for both your visitors and the search engines. It automatically finds related posts and displays them in a list – very useful when visitors arrive on a page looking for something and they get more info on the same subject.

3. Metatags plugin: you simply can’t let the search engines handle the text your visitors see in the search engine result pages. You can influence your click-through rate very much just by handling this one aspect of your copy.

As for the search engine optimization aspect – the description metatag can move you up a spot or two when you are in the first 5 with small to medium competition. And it only takes a minute!

4. Sitemap Generator Plugin: for a small site this wouldn’t be a problem, but when your page count goes over 50 indexing and maintaining a sitemap the old fashioned way just isn’t viable.

This plugin is actually more valuable because it creates both an XML sitemap (like those used by Google) and a normal, HTML sitemap for your visitors.

Some of its features include: support for multi-level categories and pages, category/page exclusion, permalink support, what order to list items in and many other options.

5. List of ping sites: put this great list in the Options -> Writing -> Update Services box and every time you write a new post 56 sites will link to you. This is a great way to ensure a quick indexing of every post on your site and, given enough time, get quite a few backlinks with the text anchor you choose.

Some optimizers say that blog and ping doesn’t work anymore, but I do this everyday – it takes next to no time and the benefits are visible.

6. Technorati ( technorati.com ) is another easy way to make your WordPress blog known, especially to other bloggers. Still, its biggest benefit is categorizing and indexing your content.

Create an account, claim your blog and then fill in the details in the blog settings page: write up a good description and then in the “tags” section fill in the keywords that represent your blog. Try to fill all the boxes but don’t spam. If you grabbed the list from no. 5 you’ll have all your posts listed in Technorati, and you’re going to see the benefits really soon.

Apply these tips and soon you’ll be on your way to more traffic and better ranking!

 

About The Author:

Florin Costache is a Romanian webmaster that writes on search engine optimization. He also provides Romanian site owners with top notch seo services!

10 SEO Benefits Of WordPress – How WordPress Can Help You With SEO

1. Permalinks:

First thing that comes to my mind about WordPress in terms of search engine optimization is the flexibility it provides with respect to url structure. You can alter the structure of permalinks to your liking and add keywords you want to focus on for each and every post you make. You should know that search engines even look in to the url when ranking webpages in its index.

2. Simple But Effective Default Theme:

WordPress now comes with a really attractive default theme. This theme is not only flexible but it also loads pretty fast and codings in this theme is very clean and search engine friendly. You should know that latest search engine from Google does take site speed in to consideration. So using default theme can help you to rank high in search results now.

3. WordPress codes Are Clean:

Stable releases of WordPress always has clean codes, although latest version of WordPress does have some issues with memory limit. As far as I know the people who are involved in coding WordPress really know what they are doing and they are pretty good at it. So how does it help in terms of SEO? well if codes are clean blog pages displayed by WordPress is also clean, also uses less server resources that means your pages loads fast and overall site speed increases. This will not only enhance user experience it also makes the job of search bots a lot easier.

4. Usage Of Tags:

With WordPress you get the ability to tag your posts, it not only gives you an additional navigational option but also lets search bots to find your internal pages and posts more easily. WordPress also lets you to post your tags in your homepage which eases the process further for search engine spiders.

5. Categories:

You also get the ability to categorize your posts in WordPress. Which means you can use keywords in your category names and also WordPress gives you an option to alter the url slugs of category names, so you can use multiple versions of your keywords. Which is a good thing.

6. Easily optimize Images:

With insert image function you can easily upload the images and also optimize the images easily by adding alt and title tags, WordPress provides you with a feature that will let you to not only add title for your images but also you can add captions for each images. Search engines loves pics with all these information embedded in to image url and use them to index it on its image results.

7. Make Pages:

You can post pages in WordPress, meaning you can make pages for important keywords you want to focus on and have it on your navigation, Makes it easy for search engines to find your pages and rank it. You can take the WordPress SEO page which you can find in the navigation for this blog. Also check where I rank for the term in Google.

8. Make A Static Homepage:

You can write a detailed page with all the keywords you want to focus on in your homepage and make it static instead of displaying your recent posts in the homepage which keeps changing always. This will really help you with your rankings.

9. Ability To Comment On Posts And Pages For Users:

I cannot count how many times people have found my blog posts through the comments which my readers left on the blog. Blog comments does bring you a good deal of traffic especially when your blog gets popular. Also search engines give importance to posts with more comments in it.

10. Pinging Option:

You can easily ping your posts to various pinging services easily with WordPress. All you have to do is fill in the ping form with all the urls you need.

How to Fix a Hacked WordPress Blog

By J.T. Pratt

JTPratt Media was started by John Pratt in 2009 after working online for 14 years as a consultant, successful affiliate marketer and blogger, WordPress consultant, and tenure as senior web developer at Ford Motor Company in Dearborn, MI. Mr. Pratt is a specialist when it comes to solving WordPress problems. This particular article helped me resolve a hacked site for one of my clients. It has also helped me provide better security for all of my other WordPress clients. If you have any questions or require some help fixing a hacked WordPress blog, please contact Mr. Pratt by clicking on the link at the beginning of this paragraph.

Fixing a hacked WordPress blog isn’t easy if you’re just a blogger with little technical experience. In my experience with clients, web hosting companies usually aren’t much help – because their experience with WordPress is limited (whether they’re ‘WordPress friendly’ or not). Their experience fixing a compromised or infected WP site and hardening security is usually non-existant. Like most technical support personnel – their job is to close your ticket as quickly as possible, not to get to the “root cause” of your infected and hacked blog. Without actually figuring out how your site was hacked, odds are you’ll get re-infected again, and again, and again.

Consider this a 4,000+ word tutorial / lesson / guide to help you fix your compromised WP site on your own. If you still need help – feel free to contact me, but I’m hoping that this article will help a LOT of people deal with their broken site on their own. You don’t have to be a coder or developer to be able to use these techniques, but you’ll need a decent understanding of WordPress, FTP, and possibly phpMyAdmin.

This article will help:

  • prevent your web site from getting hacked, jacked, infected, injected, exploited, etc.
  • fix your hacked blog or WordPress site from any one or more of the following…
  • spam links in your theme footer
  • spam links only found google’s cache of your web pages
  • eval base64 decode hacks (eval(base64_decode)
  • iframe hacks
  • .htaccess hacks
  • malware code
  • evil 301 redirects
  • injected or compromised wordpress database
  • give you tips and tricks to keep your site from getting compromised in the future Continue reading

Top 100 Best Fonts of All Time

Based on a German website, these are the top 100 best fonts of all time.

To say the least, ranking fonts is an obviously hard task… how does one measure aesthetic quality, the benefit of an item, its value to humanity and so fourth?

Well, in this particular German publication, the judges ranked the fonts by their objective and various other weighted measurements:

  • FontShop Sales Figures: 40%
  • Historical Value/Meaning: 30%
  • Aesthetic Qualities: 30%

It is also worth noting that this evaluation consisted exclusively of licensed or commercial fonts only. Free fonts or operating system fonts were not considered, nor were fonts integral to standard software (i.e. Arial, Verdana, etc.). Font variations, which over the centuries have been individually interpreted by various Foundries, were uniquely evaluated as a class and the best variant was entered into the main judging process.

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How to Use WordPress for Business

If you’re looking to expand your brand online with a blog, a website, or both, here’s what you need to know about WordPress.

By Tiffany Black | @minnie6998 | May 3, 2010 | Reprinted from inc.com

 

WordPress certainly has its fans.

blue xl 150x150 How to Use WordPress for BusinessTake Dre Armeda, for example. He describes himself as a “passionate WordPress developer” who has been “addicted to WordPress for over six years.”  In 2009 he co-founded WordPress Vibe, a site dedicated to bringing together both experts and newbies of WordPress.  “There isn’t a better blogging platform for business or personal blog sites alike,” Armeda says. He is a creative and technical consultant whose firm CubicTwo LLC has “created WordPress-driven sites for small businesses, theatre studios, and large vendors.”

Your company might already have a website, but perhaps it’s not as easy to update as you’d like.  Or maybe you are interested in creating a dynamic new company blog.  Whatever phase you’re in of creating or cultivating a web presence for your business, WordPress is an option worth exploring. Just ask Armeda, who says for small businesses it is “cost effective, [with] easy to manage updates and the SEO features will help you gain a digital footprint quickly.”

 

How to Use WordPress for Business: A Look at the Competition

Blogger, TypePad, Posterous, Tumblr, Movable Type, and WordPress are some of the better-known blogging software options. “While Expression Engine, Drupal, Movable Type and Blogger all have their uses, as do Posterous, Tumblr and even Facebook as a potential blogging platform; WordPress is the standard for very good reasons,” said Jonathan Firestone, an independent consultant on digital strategy and user experience.

Blogger is exclusively for blogging and cannot be hosted on another hosting service – though it is possible to point it to another domain.  Unless you’re looking for something basic – and a site with a standard blog aesthetic – it might not be a good choice for creating a company website.

TypePad costs $14.95 per month for the “pro” level, which is needed in order to be able to customize the site, and make sure it doesn’t look like a standard blog template.  If you need to do a high-level of customization you will have to learn a specific TypePad programming language to alter the template coding.

Tumblr was founded in 2007 as a way to blog from phone, email, or desktop.  It falls in the middle of the pack for blogging platform options.  The disadvantage of using Tumblr for many is that is does not have built in commenting.  You would have to embed Disqus to allow for commenting.  Disqus is a global comment system. So if you want to use your website or blog as a way to communicate with your customers and clients, Tumblr is not the best option.

Posterous, which launched in July 2008, is one of the newest free blogging platforms.  It is an email-to-blog platform that allows users to post anytime – and everywhere.  Blog posts are primarily submitted by emailing content to be posted, so it’s easy, but it offers zero customization, which is a deal-breaker for most businesses.

Movable Type is another option for developing a website or blog. “WordPress.org and Movable Type are very robust systems that can be used not only for blogging but also as complete content management systems,” said Heidi Cool, owner of the web design and strategy company HeidiCool.com. When Cool was a webmaster at Case Western Reserve University she primarily used Moveable Type, but decided to make the switch to WordPress in 2007 “primarily because it was a major player.”

Using Movable Type for business requires a license, the cost of which ranges from $50 to $1,000, depending on how many people at your company will require access to make updates.

WordPress was started in 2003 and is the successor of b2/cafelog, a small blogging software company founded in 2001 by Michel Valdrighi.  When development was stopped on b2/cafelog some of the developers, including Matt Mullenweg and Mike Little, got together to create WordPress.  “It has matured well beyond just a blogging solution,” Armeda says.  It has become one of the preferred options for blogging and website development because of the quick installation, ease of use, affordability (it is free), and accessibility. According to the company’s current usage statistics, WordPress is used by nearly 2.5 percent of the 10,000 biggest websites, making it the most popular blogging software in use.

While WordPress makes it easier than ever to build a blog or website, there is no wholly simple solution for website development. Remember that the process can still be time-consuming.

“Overall WordPress is my No. 1 pick, but every situation is unique,” Cool says.  Armeda agrees: “I’m a champion for WordPress but ultimately it’s about choosing the right tool for the right job.”

Dig Deeper: More About Blogs and Blogging

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