Monday, October 1, 2012

New Volusion Designs - E-Commerce Websites

We'd like to welcome some new Volusion Designs to the internet! Of course, we prefer to work as a Volusion Designer - because it's the shopping cart we are most familiar with.  But we've also had some recent experience with Big Commerce Design (and it is very flexible, and has lots of potential. I would like to take a stab at another one soon!) as well as Pinnacle Cart - but of all the carts out there, for the price an support, Volusion stays on top in our opinion.

No, we don't work for Volusion. They don't give us kick-backs. It's just a robust tool for the money. If you're looking to sell online - Volusion is a one-stop solution. It certainly doesn't look easy at first, and it's a HUGE learning curve - but it's packed with features from email campaign management to customization and flexibility - to the fact that it's very SEO friendly. (Speaking of which, did we mention that we are now partnered with Vestal Media to provide SEO services? Learn more on our web page about Search Engine Optimization services.)

So pay our new clients a visit, whether you're looking for some YUMMY smelling soap, a lift chair to help with a loved one's mobility, or skin-whitening/lightening products - we've launched some new designs in the last couple of weeks that we're thrilled to share. Pay them a visit! 


Candace and Kids Soap Company - Hand Poured Organic Soap

Tonique Skin Whitening Products

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Competition Sabotage? Hacker? What You Need To Know About ROBOTS.TXT and SEO


Does your site have a robots.txt file? Mine does. In fact, my website has had the same robots.txt file since 2008, barring adding or removing a non-relevant directory from the search bots.

But suddenly - this week - my rankings for ALL my keywords on ALL search engines disappeared. The nice page breakout and descriptions in search results that I had earned for services, contact and other pages that had been stewing online for the last 7 years were gone too. SHIZZ NITS!

So Karebear started freaking out. Went into my Google Webmaster Tools to see an alert, from this last week, to inform me that Google could no longer access my site. Do what? I had made no changes to this file.

I've either been a victim of a hack, or perhaps negative SEO. So let's investigate this Robots.Txt Mystery.

Nutshell - What is a robots.txt file? This is a text file in the root directory of your site that tells Google and other search engines whether they have permission to crawl your pages. It looks something like this:

User-agent: *
Disallow: /directory-you-do-not-want-to-be-crawled/
Disallow: /file-you-do-not-want-to-be-crawled.html

It is a best practice to have a robots.txt file, even if you allow your entire directory to be crawled. Here's what I found last night:

User-agent: *
Disallow: / 

This file is telling Google, and ALL other search engines - NOT to crawl ANY of my site. Disallow from the root directory onward. Not good.

So I went into panic mode, and made some edits and am now hoping, praying that this resolves itself quickly and will be watching closely over my analytics accounts. I'd like you to say a prayer too, please. :)

So now, my next question is - why did this file change? First thing in head - could file have been hacked? Short answer - yes. Could a competitor hack your robots.txt file? Yes, by hacking your robots.txt file so it blocks the site and then submitting a removal request to Google - your competitor could theoretically block your site from search results. Entirely. 

First, there's this article on gaining 'competitive intelligence' by reviewing directories of competitor websites. And even better - is this story from a few years back on how a hacker used proxy hacking to effect a site other than their own. But this one, takes the cake. It's about negative SEO and how it can dramatically reduce your rankings on the internet. Here's an excerpt written by Scott Langdon, contributor/author from

For those who are unfamiliar, negative SEO is when one website either hacks into your website and makes negative changes, reports your website to Google for no reason, or purchases spam links and then points them to the sites of competitors. The idea is that your competitor will be penalized by Google; thus allowing your site to rise above. This is seen as unethical and in most cases it is considered worse than any of the other black hat SEO tactics.

What can you do? 

Your first step is to understand that robots.txt is an important file - and if not done correctly, or if there is a change - it can effect your SERPS in a HUGE way. That is, eventually dropping you completely if bots can't access your content.

Then - DO NOT let your robots get lonely. Or your website reporting for that matter. CHECK Analytics and Webmaster Tools Site Health regularly. If you see any changes, or decrease in traffic - as usual - take appropriate measures.

Use your webmaster tools to check your back links and do searches on yourself and your company. People are mean, try to stay on top of them. If people are wrongly linking your site, stealing your work (I just pasted in the first paragraph of my homepage in quotes to Google and found my copy stolen VERBATIM on another web designer's site. Nice.) or trying to sabotage your efforts in some way. A good side benefit of this is also checking reviews and for online reputation management.

Bottom line: I'm not sure yet what happened. I only have my guesses. I'll certainly report back and let you know everything I find out. If you find you've been a victim - it could be too late as it takes time to index and rank sites. You've been working hard for your positions - and especially if you depend on your rankings for income, this can be devastating to your business. So to me - the most important part of this is to stay on top of your positioning. If you notice a drop, investigate. Check your analytics and webmaster tools regularly, and if it's been several weeks - seek the help of a professional.

**UPDATE** - some nice folks on the Google Webmaster Tools Forums advised me that it is VERY rare for someone to hack your site and only change a robots.txt file. They would be doing other things, and wreaking havoc elsewhere. Negative SEO and Google Proxy stuff wasn't mentioned - and it's too over my head anyway. They did mention that the google bots 'crawl' your site and it has nothing to do with indexing. I guess this means that they just can't access the information to display, and that hopefully the index / search results will not be effected since I caught it early. They pretty much chalked it up to user error. Whatever the case - I will from now on check my rankings and analytics VERY regularly - so I can stay on top of this.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Tula Hats - New Volusion Website Design

Kim and I enjoyed helping Alice from redesign her website to fit her brand. What a cool brand it is too. Beautiful straw hats hand made here in Texas. Perfect for the stylish gardener, or flitting around fashionably outdoors. These SPF 50+ hats to protect your head, scalp and face from the sun's harmful rays.  As their website says - "Sun protection never looked so good". A hat from Tula Hats makes a great gift for someone you love (and don't forget Father's Day gift coming up) or something special for yourself.

Visit them online: Tula Hats

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

New Wordpress Website Deisgn - Diva G - Texas Party Band

I gotta feeling.... that tonight's gonna be a good night.... that tonight's gonna be a good, good night....

Hit the homepage of texas party band Diva G and High Maintenance, and you'll hear them performing this hit by the Black Eyed Peas - and now, of course - it's stuck in my head!

So glad to have done a custom WordPress design for this group - Gloria (Diva G) is SO sweet, a local Dallas Ft. Worth singer and their band is so fun. This lady has so much energy!! They would rock the house as your event band or wedding reception entertainment. They also have a smooth jazz band.
Gloria D'Azerro and Friends, the Band High Maintenance - thank you for your business and letting us do your new website!

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Three Reasons You Need To Be Blogging

With our web design clients, we hear it all the time - "Why would I need to be blogging? I'm not a blogger." But in our case (for our clients) you are either selling a product or service online, or have a business that needs exposure on the world wide web. Whatever your business is, your online presence could benefit from having a blog.

Reason Number Three:  You could be taking advantage of the opportunity to blog about yourself, your company and your products. Certainly the idea is to eventually get OTHER bloggers to blog about you, and it can seem a little self-serving to write about yourself. But truly, if you do it in a way that is informative and educational to others - specifically your client or potential client - in the form of how-to's, product reviews and tips and tricks that pertain to your industry - you'd be generating useful and relevant content.  In our opinion - content about your company, if it's done without a sales-y attitude, is a great option, even if you are writing it yourself.

Reason Number Two: Blogs are great for SEO, in many ways. First, you gain accidental traffic to the blog, that you might not get to your website. Second, you can take advantage of this traffic by optimizing each post with a great title and tags, as well as back links to your website (keep them deep, with great anchor text keywords, and they'll be more juicy.) Whether you have a Blogger blog (like this one) where the content lives externally from your website, or a WordPress blog where the content is on your server acting as bait for the search engines - you need a blog to boost your SEO effort.

Reason Number Three: Blogs are great for social media. It could be your 'hub' or 'headquarters' for socially sharable content. Or, maybe it's a way for you to easily update your website with news and events about your company. Whatever your blog is used for (news, events, or socially shareable content) it all works great for Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus, Linked In and other social sharing sites.

Of course, your content is best suited for your clients when it comes from you. And - it's best suited when it comes regularly. Just don't have time? If you're super busy and don't have a clone to channel your thoughts to a blog post, and want someone to do it for you - Kari and Company does offer blogging services. Just sayin'.

And, since social media is great exposure across the internet and certainly boosts SEO, you start falling into a never ending useful funnel of goodness that leads potential clients and new clients RIGHT to your website. That's the idea, right? Happy Blogging!

Friday, April 6, 2012

Web Design Company Clients Support MacArthur High School After Prom Party

I am wowed by our clients! Of course, without clients - we'd have no business. I am so lucky to get to be the one to design small business websites for them, or even do a custom Volusion design or Core Commerce design, or maybe do a some social media services for them. Kim and I work really hard to provide a great service, with a great end result, at a fair price - with some added value of good communication and the desire to go above and beyond. For our clients - I already knew they were amazing, but it's now confirmed - that they support us in s many ways!

As many of you know, my niece is graduating this year from the same high school Kim and I graduated from many moons ago. Like most kids, they are getting ready for Prom, and the parties to follow. Kim took a role to support an effort to host a huge after-Prom party - sort of a lock-in - where kids can have a drug-free, alcohol-free good time at SpeedZone in Dallas. Kids attending the MacArthur High School after prom party will be able to race through the night, drinks, snacks, games and giveaways - until the sun comes up the next morning. The idea is to keep them off the streets, and off drugs and alcohol - for what should be one of the most memorable nights of their life. The alternative is often tragic, and parents decided a few years ago that after-Prom parties were a great way to protect their kids.

So - we reached out to our web design clients, because we needed financial support to pay for the venue, as well as donations and giveaways to encourage kids and volunteers to participate in this special event. We were nothing short of AMAZED at the return from our clients.

There are more too - coming in every day - supporting this effort in various ways. We will post more as we receive. WE CANNOT THANK YOU ENOUGH. Our most sincere thanks and appreciation go out to all of these businesses. Please take a moment to visit their websites, share their info on your social networks.

If you are interested in donating a product or service to the MHS After Prom, or making a donation, visit or contact Kim -

Again - WOWED by our clients. You guys are the best in the world and we thank you!

Monday, March 26, 2012

Pinterest's New Terms Of Service

If you haven't seen Pinterest's new terms of service - and you're trying to use Pinterest business - click here to read the latest changes to the terms, privacy and use.

If you are still unclear on what it all means, there's really nowhere to click, just yet.

Why? Because it's a gray area at best, when copyright is considered - since Pinterest is really not meant to be used to 'sell' images, or even process orders for sales in a commerce situation at all - but more use pinned and posted images as inspiration and shared interests. I think it was always intended to be a 'virtual vision board' if you will. And of course - in that concept, it's taken off in a grand way, and is all the buzz.

However, image use and sharing on the internet has been a muddy situation for a long time. And I think that's what the issues really boils down to - but there's a plethora of other issues that live under this surface.

One COULD be in violation of copyright laws for posting pics they don't own the rights to. But, most businesses and individuals would typically agree - that viral sharing on Pinterest (as long as there is not an attempt to make money off of the sharing) is mostly harmless, considering Pinterest's main audience and use, and a great way to gain exposure.

But there are brand standards to be protected, corporate identities and marketing efforts and messages to be maintained - so while sharing and exposure is win-win (both for the images being shared and those gaining inspiration from them) the lines of marketing and branding that companies put so much money into could easily be blurred. Blurred - because posters on Pinterest have the ability to add their own comments and copy to pins. Whether it be positive or negative, and whether it be good or bad, it could definitely differ from the source's main intent of the image or message. And we don't want to mix blurry branding with viral exposure.

For example, photographers own the rights to their images. They also want exposure. This is why they watermark their images then push out across the social media horizon. This gains them visibility for both their work and their brand (if watermarked with logo, or company name). Since they own the rights, they are allowed to push out wherever they want.

If an image is not watermarked, and it gets pinned by someone else claiming it's their work, then that's a violation of copyright - and nobody would know the difference except the photographer who was violated.

It'll be interesting to watch, the evolution of this new thing called Pinterest. Especially for businesses. I know this blog post is all over the map - sort of like my brain is now, after these new rules have been applied. What's even more interesting, is that Pinterest promises to develop an API, and new features - which allude to commercial or at least mass-data use of it's service. I think it's safe to say that my crazy disorganized blog post, and general confusion on the subject - is not all alone with me.

For now, I would say keep using it for business if you are a relevant business such as beauty, fashion, crafting, artist or designer, e-commerce to the audience - refer to my prior article here - because as long as it's inspirational, social, not for profit or commercial use, for now - I think we'll all be safe pinning.


Sunday, February 26, 2012

Logo Design For 1313 Images Photography

Kara Ridgeway Janni is a local photographer in Dallas/Fort Worth area - and a long-time friend of mine. I was pleased to assist her with her new logo design - for 1313 Images Photography. Kara wanted something a bit different - a little less 'curly' and 'swirly' than you see with photographer branding these days. She has been working hard to use different color schemes, themes and styles - and brand her company a bit more modern and sleek to set herself apart.

She specializes in family, children and senior portraits. Kim loved spending some time with her - taking MacArthur High School Senior Gretchen Goldston’s senior pictures – and you can see Kara’s passion for beautiful photography and love of what she does. One of Kara’s goals for 1313 Images Photography is to help with spirited and personality exploding pictures and portraits.

1313 Images Photography has great photography sessions and photography products that can be seen on her website – You can also visit 1313 Images Photography’s Blog that has the latest and most recent photography sessions. Join 1313 Images Photography’s
Facebook or pin her on Pinterest! She is also offering Senior discounts –take advantage of it before it’s too late!

To book your photography session or ask any questions, please visit or call Kara Janni at 972.754.1519.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Social 121 In Frisco Delicious On All Fronts

I've been waiting for the opportunity to visit web design client Social 121 in Frisco, Texas. I got to go last night, for their special Valentine's Day four-course dining event - and was thrilled on all fronts. The food was fantastic, the service was awesome - and what's more - is that the whole place just oozed cool, hip modernity and style.

It's an upscale, and super-hip Frisco Texas restaurant and lounge/bar/club located very conveniently right off of the intersected Highway 121 and North Dallas Tollway in the Southeast quadrant. I might have missed it if I wasn't looking for it, as it's tucked back a bit off of the service roads (if you're on the Tollway's service road, it'll be on the right, but it's easier to see, in my opinion - from the access road from 121). But once you're there - you'll never forget where it is - because it's awesome.

We enjoyed the four-course Valentine's Day special menu. Social 121 does this on certain holidays, and you can learn more about these and other events (like sports-watching events, and special dinner seatings) on their website - or on their Facebook Fan page. The sleek atmosphere was warmed up with candles, and made even more relevant to the theme of the weekend by the Valentine's Red coloring behind the wall-length bottle storage area and on the screens all around the area.

We got there a few minutes early and checked out the bar area, had a drink and then were seated in a cozy table where we started our meal with a salad. I had a 'Classic Caesar" - that was fantastic. Every single leaf of lettuce had just the right amount of dressing, as though the whole thing had been done piece by piece.

We had a second course of appetizers. We all chose separate things, the mom's had Southwestern Crab Cakes, Grilled Lamb Lollipops for my husband, and I chose the Braised Short Rib Potstickers - we swapped tastes a bit, and ALL were just wonderful. I am partial to the potstickers of course, and I loved the Asian flair with the beefy twist.

Two of us enjoyed the steak as our main course, and both of us particularly loved the Mixed-Herb Potato Pave. The other two enjoyed the bone-in pork chop - which I did get to try a taste of, and they agreed - was the most tender we'd had as far as pork chops go.

Finally, we stuck with the program of sharability with our deserts - each ordering with intent to share a taste for experience's sake. We had bread pudding, 'love cake' and creme brulee, all of which were great. The bread pudding was moist, laced with cinnamon and the love cake had a scoop of mocha ice cream to give it an extra kick, along with a side of some awesome toffee-ish candy.

As I said - been waiting a long time to check out Social 121. I don't live very close, although I'm not too far either. It was worth the drive and wait, and I'll be going back very soon! Thanks to owner Scott Siers and staff, for making a fun Valentine's Day event for us to treat our mom's to!

Monday, February 6, 2012

Pinterest Holding Interest

It's the newest hottest thing on the internet - it's Pinterest. An online 'pin board' or, as I like to call it - a 'vision board' - where you can identify pictures, and in some cases, 'do' - things, visually - as well as share and interact with others.

Who uses it? It appears that women, in their 30's-50's - in general, are highly addicted to Pinterest. And - with good reason. It's a gold mine for interior design ideas, recipes (here's where the DO comes into play), crafting, hobbies, hairstyles, beauty and fashion and more.

What's great about Pinterest, is that it's not so much 'personal' - i.e. - pictures of the family dog and family outings - but things you can share freely and comment on without worry that you've barged in on someone's privacy. If it's on Pinterest, it's free for the pinning.

Any business value? For most businesses - I think that trying to incorporate Pinterest into your social media strategy would depend 100% on what you do. Also - it MUST be kept friendly, light, family-friendly and social. Certain businesses just do not fall into this category, and are not a good fit for Pinterest. For example - here are some industries/businesses that would do well to consider utilizing Pinterest as a vehicle for viral exposure:

1/ Hair salons/independent stylists: Showcase your work! Get permission from your clients to present your newest creations on Pinterest. Much inspiration for that next great hair-do comes from here.

2/ Interior Designers/Artists/Designers: Here's where you show off your brands, design ideas, colors, palettes, layouts and also offer great ideas to those who are crafty like to do-it-yourself. Even though they do-it-themselves - they remember where they got help and support - and if/when the time comes, maybe your name will pop back into mind. "How-tos" for art/craft projects and interior decor are a hugely searched - so participate with helpful content and gain some (real) fans.

3/ Chefs, Restaurants, Cooks: Share recipes on Pinterest - it's a great source of people who cook EVERY SINGLE DAY - and like above, they'll remember where they got the recipe. What's great about Pinterest - is the viral shareability of this content. Your recipe has the potential to get shared to hundreds of people, within minutes. Talk about free exposure!

4/ Photographers/Scrapbookers: Pinterest is a place for the crafty!! You can not only showcase your work, but also provide those handy-well searched-how-to's to get even more exposure. Play up the holidays and special occasions - Valentine's Day, Birthdays, Weddings - as people are continually searching for ideas and maybe - vendors - for these special occasions.

5/ E-Commerce: If you're selling something in the world of beauty, fashion or style via an online store (of course you know we specialize in e-commerce website design - close shameless plug) - then Pinterest will allow you to 'pin' individual items. Do this when you get something particularly relevant to these industries, or new items - or even if you have something on sale.

6/ Food, Fashion Writers/Mom Bloggers - ladies, unite. 'Nuff said.

And that's not to say men aren't using Pinterest. They are. Just not like the ladies. Plus, for the most part, I know better how ladies think than I do men; and I know this is a smorgasboard of home, beauty and family inspiration. It is what it is, and right now, it's more about the women on Pinterest.

Tips for using Pinterest: Pin Often, pin relevant, take special care to categorize and beef up your specific boards - and add your own description to reach image. Then, share it on Facebook and Twitter, Linked In and anywhere else you can.

There's not a lot of SEO value for Pinterest pins, because each pic pinned has an id number, and nt a real 'title' per-se - which makes sense, because there's just so much content. It's the loyal followers, share-ability and genuine inspiration that exists on Pinterest that make it so valuable.

If you know your market, and pin for them, (and yourself) it'll be a fun and interesting way to increase exposure for your business or your name.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Welcome Generation Flirt - Flirty Intimates and Apparel For Women

Got curves, ladies? Show them off with Generation Flirt intimates and tees!

We have had a wonderful experience with Sibelle - and are so glad they hired us to be their Volusion Designer – Welcome to the internet... Generation Flirt clothing! For ladies t-shirts, tanks, and super-cute undergarments for ladies - this is the place to go. Look out, Victoria's Secret!

Visit The Website - Find Them On Facebook

Sibelle and Josue started in their garage researching the perfect 'feeling' fabrics and even taking sewing classes – they learned all about what makes good quality clothing and what it takes in the clothing industry to be successful.

Generation Flirt has come a long way! For GF, hard work and a labor of love has taken them to a large warehouse where all the products are now made - and we're pleased to announce - a brand new online store. (one of the PRETTIEST website designs we've done to date!)

Generation Flirt clothing is for the flirty, fun and free spirit. Not only does Generation Flirt have great form-fitting sexy tees that show off your curves but there are three types you can choose from – Baby T-shirts, Cami’s and the Swoop low neck t-shirt. The tees appear to be cut longer than typical - which is an asset that many women LOVE in a soft-sexy-tee!

The Generation Flirt panties come is Sassy Chic, Playful Chic and Flirty Comfort.

Visit Generation Flirt for some great clothes for the curves you have and want to show off! Thanks to Sibelle and Josue for their business, and Good Luck!

Monday, January 9, 2012

LipoGarments - Clothes To Help You Heal From Surgery

What exactly is a Lipo Garment? We found out as we began the journey of doing a new e-commerce design for Lipo Garment’s new website with owner, Wendy - and we got to do their new logo design, too.

Lipo Garments products are designed to physically compress a specific area of the body, to resolve pain and keep things 'in place', if you will - during recovery from cosmetic or reconstructive surgery garments such as – c-sections, breast augmentations, breast reductions or liposuction.

These innovative compression garments are made from light weight, stretchy and latex free fabric to assist in effective compression.

The facial compression garment provides compression and support to surgical areas after procedures such as face lift, chin lift, neck lift or any surgeries involving the chin or neck area.

If you have had a recent c-section or having one, we would recommend the Abdominal Binder. Believe us when we say this, you must have this! This abdominal compression binder is a 3 panel, 9” high abdominal binder that is flannel lined. No panel rolling and is available in white. This abdominal compression binder can assist in supporting after tummy tucks, post hernia surgery, c-sections, abdominal strains and so much more! sells their products on the popular Volusion platform. We are pleased to have assisted in the Volusion store design of such a useful and helpful product. Good luck LipoGarments!