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All aspects of website development including programming, databases, and advanced scripting.

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Merry Christmas

The Anttix staff and our families would like to wish you and your's a very Merry Christmas and a wonderful New Year. May your year end well and may you prosper in the year to come. We hope to work with you again soon and continue to grow with you as your company grows.

From Friday, December 23rd until Monday, December 27th Anttix will have limited support available so our staff can celebrate the holidays with their families. We will also have limited support on January 2nd.  We will still be monitoring our services and available for any critical issues; non-critical support may not be addressed during this time. Please continue to file your support tickets at support@anttix.com as needed.

From all of us to all of you,
The Anttix Family
Jason, Tom, & Ryan

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What Is Drupal?

Drupal Developers

When we build websites for our clients, we openly and proudly explain that we build all of our websites on the Drupal platform. For some of those clients, this has little to no meaning. There is no fault for this, as this can be a technical aspect that mostly matters to developers but it never hurts to understand what is powering your website and why. More importantly, it can be good to comprehend why Anttix chooses Drupal over other platforms and how it might benefit you.

Drupal is an open source CMS, or Content Management System, for website design and development. Open source means no one person or entity owns the code; it is open to a vast community of developers to improve and secure. Content Management systems take a lot of the heavy lifting programming out of the picture and control the content using a database where it writes and recalls the content of your site as needed. With a content management system comes a myriad of features and benefits to deliver that content in the best way possible. All of which can be wrapped in any design the website owner prefers, whether it be a template or custom.

Many other web design CMS platforms exist for the same purpose, such as WordPress and Joomla. However, both serve a very specific and sometimes limited purpose. WordPress is currently the most popular CMS for delivering straightforward, essential content such as blog websites. The reason Anttix chooses to be a "Drupal House" is because of the sheer flexibility of the platform. Any type of content can be custom created such as image galleries, staff directories, product listings, events, and even specialized for-sale services. There are even powerful plug-in options for integrating shopping cards and learning management systems. The bottom line is that Drupal is a widely supported and nearly unlimited resource for building the exact kind of website our client's needs.

The next important piece to understand about a CMS website design with Drupal is that it can be in a constant state of improvement, whether it be new features or critical security updates. If any version of Drupal is compromised by hackers, you can be sure a secured version may already be available. At Anttix we pay particular attention to these updates and try to both protect and inform our clients when necessary or preferred updates occur. The advantage to this is your website doesn't have to be rebuilt from the ground up when it is time for that important update, it can simply be improved and ready to go. With the newest version of Drupal, Drupal 8, you can even bridge the gap between a website and powerful online applications. The Drupal Community can and will continue to grow more and more every day.

For more information on a Drupal website and available features gives Anttix a call today at 877-426-8849 or click here to contact us.

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New Year's Resolutions

New Years Goals

As we approach the new year, some of us have begun planning our New Year's resolutions. Its those little bad habits and fruitful goals we plan to do something about when a fresh start rolls around. Sometimes we simply stop doing bad things like fast food or start doing good things like exercising more. Either way, we aim to be better people in the coming year and grow instead of stand still or decline.

The same idea of resolution could be applied to your website. Maybe it is time to revisit your site and explore how to make it grow in the new year. Lets talk about some "website resolutions" that can give your online presence a fresh start in the new year.

  • Lose Weight - Shed Your Bad Content

    In many cases bad content can weigh our sites down and hurt their search engine rankings. Be sure to remove any duplicate content on your site, or make sure it is not longer indexed by search engines. If you have old content that simply does not apply to your business or represents a service you no longer apply, get rid of it. You do not want to be found for irrelevant content or give your visitors the wrong impression. Give your web content a good review.

  • Try a New Look - Redesign & Respond

    It may be time to update your site to a new, modern look or simply apply best practices such as responsiveness to your current site. It may even be time to start from scratch and try a whole new direction. Either way, websites need new attention every few years so ask yourself "Is my website due for a makeover?" Web design is an ever-growing profession that we try to stay on the edge of for our client's sake, so lean on web professionals like Anttix to let you know what your site could evolve into.

  • Get a New Hobby - Add Something New to Your Site

    While some learn an instrument or try sewing in the new year, businesses can consider adding on new and exciting features to their website. Perhaps now is the time to add an eCommerce solution to your site, or maybe you would like to integrate some of your communication software into your core pages. The goal is to see your website as an evolving entity that can expand and cover more ground for you in an online setting.

  • Spend More Quality Time - Get the Most Out of Your Site

    What does it mean when we say "I should spend more quality time with..." in relation to friends and family? It means we want to spend out time wisely and end our day knowing we used our time with those important to us in the most meaningful way. The same goes for how much time you spend on your website and the quality of that time you spend. When you dedicate time to things like writing a blog entry or updating your products, you want to ensure you're not just going through the motions and doing just enough to get by. Make those content additions to your site be as good as they can be. Be sure to include keywords when writing articles and give your users the best descriptions and specifications you can. It is far easier to write your content right the first time rather than going back through your site and finding ways to fix it.

All in all, we hope you all have a wonderful new year and make your websites grow. At Anttix, we are happy to sit down with you anytime and discuss how we can help improve what you already have, or simply start anew. If you have questions or would like to schedule a consultation please call us at 877-426-8849 or click here to contact us.

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Creating Content - Part I

Relavant Content

When assisting clients with content, Anttix strives to steer them in the right direction. Most of the time we handle a lot of content optimization behind the scenes, making sure it is displaying correctly, free of errors, and indexed properly for search engines. The rest of the burden lies with the client, who must supply the best possible version of their content they can including relative information, informative answers, and quality resources. This blog series aims to shed some light on both sides of the process, both from the developer and the client. The ultimate goal will be to help our readers create and publish quality content in the right way with and without our help. Let's begin this series with the first part of the process; what quality content is.

Quality Writing

Nothing beats quality content, but first you have to define what "quality" means. Having a professional copywriter helps, and will ultimately deliver the best version of your quality, but it has to start with the source. Quality content means the information is relevant and informative. The content has to relate to the website's overall subject matter and relay that information in a concise and readable manner. Good practices include less-is-more, where you convey only the relevant content and leave out the unnecessary details. The content should be written as your visitors want to read it, not how you want to say it. Think of your content as a conversation, where your visitors are standing right in front of you. If you speak too long-winded a few will drift off. If you say too little they will be left confused and will likely just leave. Find that middle ground and say just enough to get your point across. There will be plenty of time to share the rest of your information after they show interest.

Avoid Bad Content

Now that you know what good content is, it is time to know what to avoid. Bad content is irrelevant and hard to read. A popular article about the hottest toys this Christmas will do no good on an investment banking website, no matter how well it is written. At the same time, avoid over-using keywords and duplicating content. Search engines pick up on these bad practices and rank these sites very low. Each page of your site should be optimized for the keywords you wish to focus on, used naturally throughout the page. Jamming those keywords where they do not below will ultimately cost you ranking.

At times, some sites duplicate their content across multiple pages causing a huge hit to their rankings as well. Sometimes this is unintentional, due to similar products or services with duplicate copy on each of their pages. When duplicate content is necessary, META tags such as NOINDEX and NOFOLLOW can be used to avoid indexing the extra copies of the content, while they remain published and relevant to the site.

The Coveted Backlink

If you have paid any attention to best practices in search engine optimization in the past few years, I'm sure "backlinks" have been mentioned a few times. Backlinks, for those who are unfamiliar, are simply links from other sites back to yours. These backlinks create the appearance of relevance, making your site look more valid and current. The key to backlinks is their quality and relevance, just like your content. Backlinks from spamming websites, paid directories, and unrelated content sites will hurt you instead of help you. Backlinks should come from relevant sites such as social media, similar businesses and organizations, and partners that share your professional services. Because backlinks are still very viable and valuable with search engines, paying close attention to their sources are very important.

Accept the Help

At Anttix we aim for the highest level of professionalism and support. We practice due diligence with best practices, content writing techniques, and quality online marketing. Many clients believe they know what is best for their company and how best to say it, but do not be afraid to let a professional take the reigns of your content and drive it in the right direction. Ultimately it is always up to you, but our website design and marketing professionals have spent years researching and training in web content design so you don't have to. Trust your professionals and ask a lot of questions, to gain a better understand of why we do what we do.

If you have questions or would like help with your web content please contact Anttix today at (877) 429-3729 or click here to contact us.

» Continue to Part II

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The Open Source World

Open Source

In today's modern world the term "Open Source" is being used more and more to describe software but many individuals still have a hard time understanding what it means. The term is often associated with "Free" and "Unlicensed" which are both true but that doesn't really paint a good picture of what Open Source really means. The key is the word "Open" in Open Source. It means the software is open to the public, open to the technology community, and most importantly open to other like-minded developers who can help improve it. When your software is Open Source all the code associated with it is put other there for everyone to see, improve, and sometimes pick apart with a fine-toothed comb.

To compare, the opposite end of the spectrum is Closed-License software. Closed-License software includes suites from companies such as Microsoft, Symantec, and Adobe who own the code to their software exclusively. When you buy their software you don't truly own it, you own a "license" that gives you permission to use that particular software under its terms. There is nothing wrong with that, a developer has the right to own their own code, so it begs the question why choose Open Source technology over licensed technology?

The main reason, especially for Anttix and our use of Open Source technology for web design, is the community that powers it. Putting your code out to the public means hundreds or even thousands of developers can come together to help you improve it. They can help you find bugs, work out the kinks, and even contribute patches and modules to enhance an already great piece of software. As an example, Anttix uses Open Source web design software called Drupal that allows us to build dynamic websites with powerful features and tools including entire online applications. The same software was adopted by the U.S. House of Representatives and White House for all of the websites under their domain. The main reason was the powerful community of developers who contributed the vastly superior security of this database-driven software. Close-source technology has the disadvantage of only being able to rely on a limited team of specialists employed by the software company to find and fix bugs as fast as they can. Quite often that is just not fast enough.

However, the underlying reason many user gravitate towards Open Source technology is the cost. While the use of Open Source technology is not always 100% free due to labor and service fees it is still a very cost-effective way to use powerful software for even the greatest business needs. By eliminated costly licenses from your technology budget you make room to feed more funds into development needs to improve and enhance the use of your software. Imagine taking thousands of dollars away from the basic cost of your software and applying that to a brand new point of sale system or high-end customer interaction tool instead. At the same time you can watch your core software grow and improve with a vast community behind it.

The bottom line is you should choose the right software for you, but when Open Source software becomes available to you it wouldn't hurt to learn more about it. If you want to explore more Open Source solutions for web design give Anttix a call today at 877-426-8849 or click here to email us.

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Website Cost Benefit

Cost Benefit Analysis

This biggest deciding factor for many of our clients when choosing a website developer is cost. Every responsible company has a budget and websites likely fall into the marketing or technology portion of that budget. Why wouldn't it when most people use the internet to find goods or services more and more each day. The question is how much of your budget should be dedicated to your website and what is the Cost/Benefit analysis?

The answer is not so simple. The first question we ask is, "What do you want your website to do for you?" Will it simply tell people about your business, its services, and how to contact you? Will your website be the ecommerce side of your store to sell your products online? Perhaps your business needs a dynamic web-based application to communicate with your customers and provide some of your services directly over the web. The more you want from your website the higher your website budget should be. Your budget should not just be your monetary cost as well, but also your time commitment and staff responsibilities as well. Plan ahead properly and your website will have a greater chance of being a success.

The next stage is to choose a web developer and determine their cost versus your value. Every goal for any website is a return on investment (ROI). Many web marketing companies center around this goal and rightfully so. Companies like WSI in Plainfield, IL understand that you should get out of your website what you should put in. This is where the old adage comes in, "You get what you pay for." If you find a cheap solution for your website at low-cost chances are you get a cheap website with low resources. If you find a solution with a greater cost than your budget there is a good chance you are getting more than you need. Always aim for an itemized quote and don't be afraid to shop around and check references and portfolios of web development companies like Anttix. We encourage our potential clients to ask questions so we can provide fair quotes for only the services they need. It is very important to know what you are getting and what you are paying for.

Finally, you should expect ongoing costs to maintain and improve your website over time. There are subscription costs such as hosting, domain registration, and email services that you will likely pay month-to-month to maintain your services online. From time to time you may need your developer's help to update your site or add new and dynamic content. It is a good practice to figure out a monthly budget for website costs or factor it into your monthly marketing budget. An up-to-date and active website is a successful one. Budget your time, staff, and costs for your website month-to-month and expect better results. A site that is created once and left alone rarely does your investment any good.

For more details on estimates, budgets, and itemized website projects please feel free to call Anttix today at (888) 426-8849 for a free consultation. We are happy to sit down with you and discuss your website plans before any contract is signed or money is exchanged hands. Let us work with you today

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Rising to Standards

Keep Raising the Bar

The question we get asked the most is simply, "What makes Anttix different?" It is a fair question, with so many other website design companies out there doing excellent work. Some companies work in bulk, churning out multiple websites a month with templates and pre-built solutions for a very low cost. Some companies work in the opposite direction by only working on large-scale, high-end web applications costing hundreds of thousands of dollars and sometimes years to develop. Anttix generally falls in between, but it is certainly not the scale of our projects. We enjoy website design projects from the large to the small and have worked with everything from a work-from-home business to a multi-million dollar corporation. What does set us apart is quality, or more specifically standards.

Standards apply to websites in a variety of different ways. Some apply to the way we write code while others simply apply to work and business ethics. Here are a few that are very important to us and what we feel sets us apart from any large or small scale Web Development Company:

Web Standards

By following the strict set of guidelines created by the W3C (World Wide Web Consortium) we create websites with the highest degree of compatibility and seamless navigation. These standards were created by a group of international professionals to improve the way we develop and innovate web-based products around the world. There can be no higher standard to meet, so Anttix adheres to these standards for all of our websites to ensure we are putting the best product out there. Some simple examples of these standards are checks for broken links, removal of redundant pieces of code, properly closing all tags, and avoidance of deprecated code. This may seem very technical for some, because it is, the concept is simple... do it right the first time.

Work Standards

At Anttix we apply a series of standards to how we start and complete each project that comes along. No matter how big or small a project is it will receive the highest standards of quality we can provide and equal amounts of appropriate attention. We see each project from start to finish personally, and work directly with our clients to help their voices be heard and needs get met. The biggest advantage Anttix has is working locally with many clients, having face-to-face meetings to discuss their project, and always acting as a familiar voice behind each support phone call we get. While we work with contractors and other professionals from time to time we keep them local and familiar. Anttix keeps all of our business as local as possible including our servers which are housed and maintained in the U.S. Local is very important to us and we believe that comes as strong standard to follow.

Business Standards

How we do business is the most important standard of all for Anttix. We do not believe in cutting corners, saving a buck at the expense of quality, and finding the easy way to do things every time. Sometimes this takes more work and cuts into the bottom line for this company’s fiscal year. We are willing to take that risk and suffer that loss so at the end of the day we can rest our head and know we did our job properly. From our billing to support tools, everything is put in place to ensure our customer service is top notch and our clients receive a product they can be proud of. We believe an ethical and honest approach is always the best approach in our business. It may not be the most profitable way, or the easiest, but it is certainly our way.

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Understanding the Web- Part II: Hosting

custom website design

While many people have a fairly good understanding of what a website is, there is often confusion about where a website 'lives'. This is called hosting.

A host is the company or individual who supplies and maintains a web server to house a website. While what goes into a web server may be complicated, it simply starts out as a computer, like the one in your home or office. It is stripped down to the bare essentials necessary for running as a web server, and then outfitted with appropriate software. Servers are usually custom built to host various websites and applications. For example, a site built with Active Server Pages (ASP) would likely be hosted on a server installed with a Microsoft Operating System and SQL Server software. An Anttix Drupal software website would be hosted on a Linux server with MySQL and PHP software.

The hosting company not only houses the server on a dedicated, high-speed internet connection (such as a T1 line), but they also maintain that server to ensure that downtime is as avoidable as possible. A host must maintain the server’s temperature, keep its software up-to-date, and replace any faulty equipment as needed. They should make frequent data backup too, for worst-case scenarios.

When it comes to choosing a host, research their reputation and cost. Some companies keep hosting costs low by capping CPU speeds and packing far too many websites onto a single server. Capping the CPU speed means that if any site on that server gets too much activity or traffic, the entire server will slow down and sometimes become unresponsive. Almost all servers host multiple sites, however there is a limit to how many one should hold. When cheaper hosting companies ignore that fact, their customers suffer. Good hosting companies have competitive pricing without sacrificing quality and service.

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Understanding the Web- Part I: Domain Registration

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Panic!  You just received an official-looking letter in the mail, informing you that your website domain is about to expire.  You are instructed to act soon or forfeit your beloved domain forever.

Sound familiar?  Too often our clients have received these bogus letters.  Rest assured; these letters may look like they hail from some important national organization, but they are nothing more than junk mail advertisements.

To avoid unnecessary stress, let's define domain registration.  While your actual website and all of its files, databases, and documents are stored on a web server*, your domain is housed separately by a registrar.  When users enter your domain name, the registrar points to the domain name server (DNS), which in turn finds the web server where your domain is housed.  The registrar registers the domain with your ownership information for a designated period of time.  A few things to keep in mind:

Know the Availability-  No, abc.com is not available, but you can search name availability by visiting whois.net.   While most businesses, organizations, and individuals are able to claim a suitable domain name, your first (or second or third) choice may already be taken, and some companies register multiple domains just for the sake of reselling them.  They are called 'domain farmers', as they harvest as many domains as they can, in the hope of making a profit.  A purchased domain might not even have a corresponding website attached to it.  The cost of buying such domains can run in the thousands, so unless you really want a certain name, it is best to avoid the farmers.

Know the Owner-  It is critical that you know who owns your domain.  As the sole purchaser, it should be registered to you and you alone.  The web developer should only be listed as the technical and/or administrative contact.  (Beware of less reputable developers who register client domains in their own names, rather than in those of their clients.)  Upon registration, you also have the option of paying extra to keep your information private.  Otherwise, it is public record.  Anyone can easily look it up by visiting whois.net.

Know the Expiration-  Be aware of when your registration expires.  Ownership is usually purchased on an annual basis, and most companies, including Anttix, have their clients on an automatic renewal system.  This means you will never lose your domain, as long as the registration is paid in full.  On the other hand, if a domain expires, it is often held by the registrar for a certain period of time before it is reopened to the public.  During this holding period, the registrar will generally charge larger amounts of money for the original owner to regain the domain, or auction it off to the highest bidder in cases of multiple interest.  Avoid this mess and expense by utilizing an auto-renew system.

Don't be fooled by shady domain registration tactics, especially if you are an Anttix client.  Whether managing domains or any other aspect of website development, we operate from a standpoint of professional preparation and communication- never panic.  If you are concerned about your domain's status, give us a call for some straight answers and effective solutions.

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Building on a Firm Foundation

custom website design

A website is an important part of any company, supplying a major portion of its identity. Without a website, businesses quickly fall behind in their respective competitive markets, particularly among younger demographics. Of course, not all websites are created equal. Once the development phase has been initiated, there are a few paths a designer can take. Just like a building engineer, a competent website designer will carefully consider the foundation and subsequent structure. Skipping these steps will, in essence, fail the visitors.

Proper planning demands the review of all associated content for the website. Using the building analogy, content can be thought of as the different rooms. Once all of the online content has been created, it is then organized into specific, well-tailored categories. These categories then determine the main links that will be common throughout the site, in much the same way that various levels of a building unite.

Once the entire site structure is built, it is then reviewed to check for consistency and sensibility. This process ensures that content flows from piece to piece, establishing the site map. Like any physical map, it guides guests from place to place. Without proper flow, browsing a website becomes a chore, turning visitors and potential customers away. Proper site structure helps a user cruise through a website, keeping his/her attention and retaining a longer visit.

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The Importance of Branding

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At Anttix, we devote significant attention to the Design phase of each project, not only to provide our clients with attractive websites but to create an everlasting image for the product which we are introducing to the internet. Embedding that image into the minds of our clients' users is called branding. Often it is one of the most important parts of the project.
Branding is not limited to logos and overall site design. It encompasses the very manner in which a company carries itself. It can also communicate symbolism or an overall attitude surrounding the company’s marketing strategy. Regardless of a brand's 'flavor', it is imperative to bring clear and positive purpose to the forefront of users' minds.

Some key qualities to consider when creating a great brand:
Consistency
Above all else your brand should always be consistent. Whether it’s how your logo is used, the types of slogans you use in your website and advertising, or just the level of quality provided within your products or services, consistency always matters. Brands that change too often or suddenly change their game plan can lose the attention and loyalty of their audience, risking a downward trend.

Recognition
Your brand should be easy to recognize, and the image should force an immediate association with your business or organization. Not only should your audience immediately recognize your logo, but they should understand what they can expect from it. The more recognition you garner, the more your audience naturally gravitates toward your products or services, sometimes even subconsciously.

Personality
Every business or organization develops a personality, and your audience gets to know you as such. If your personality is fun and playful, they can expect fun and playful products without even knowing the product details. An austere personality, on the other hand, suggests strength, tradition, and reliability. Step back and ask yourself what character traits your business emits.

If you have not given much thought to your brand, or if your brand needs solidification, there is no better time to start planning than now. Anttix is a capable resource to help you build a brand that is as unique as your business or organization. Call today and learn more.

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3 Steps to an Unforgettable Website

custom website design

At Anttix, our process is our underlying definition, shaping the entire scope of each project. The major phases in our detail-oriented operation are Discovery, Design, and Content.

Discovery
Discovery is crucial to overall website development. Many questions are answered during this phase. The purpose and target market are determined, leading to options regarding features. Blogs, content management systems, newsletters, portfolios, profiles, calendars, and more are considered and planned. Once domain registration and hosting packages are explained, we will submit an estimate, and if approved, write a clearly outlined contract.

Design
The Design phase allows us to work closely with the client to construct the appropriate design to suit the needs and personality of the business or organization. We review styles, colors, formats, and general visual impacts that appeal to the client. Using this framework we present two mockups, which illustrate the overall look and feel of the website. Our open communication and smooth transition set us apart from many competitors.

Content
Content development includes researching, organizing, writing, and editing information for websites. Content may consist of prose, graphics, pictures, recordings, video, or other digital media. When developing content, the focus is on making the information stand out in an original manner, often reaching a niche audience. Page layout and the site map are also finalized. Within these pages, marketing material is incorporated, giving the visitor reason to view the website for extended time, and reason to return.

Excellent web design is a combination of common sense and proper planning. With these essentials in place, and a solid communication line between designer and client, a website can reach its full potential.

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Anttix Quality Assurance Checklist

custom website design

Too often website developers simply walk away once all of the content and images have been added to the site. Some believe that when a site is fully functional, the job is done. Anttix takes a more in-depth approach. Overlooking the smallest detail can mean future problems for the site- or worse- immediate issues. In order for us to grant a website our stamp of approval, we must pass our own strict set of guidelines. This is our Quality Assurance (QA) Checklist. Every website- no matter how big, small, old, or new- undergoes this review prior to going live.

We begin with a basic spelling and grammar check. Even when our copy editors revise the content and offer marketing enhancements, we double check to make sure nothing was lost in implementation or modification. At the same time, we ensure that all content is in place and that no pages are missing. The result is a professional internet presence consisting of visually-pleasing substance.

Once content is set, we check each and every page for W3C compliance. Web standards created by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) are met, creating a consistent experience for websites. Each W3C-compliant site is designed to work in any and all browsers across multiple versions. This maximizes the site’s viewing potential, and helps prevent error and oversight in the code.

Next, a series of modules and settings are initiated in order to maximize the performance and security of the site. For example, caching is set to increase performance, while domain redirect settings ensure that each page can be found correctly by all users. Each of these steps is small but yields big results.
Finally, the website is submitted to search engines along with its sitemap. This pushes all newly created or updated content out to the search engines to crawl for relevance to current searches. In addition, 'jobs' are scheduled to periodically submit your sitemap to search engines as you update your site. The more you update, the more your site gains relevance with online searches. (Frequent sitemap uploads help quite a bit.)

You could settle for a website that is rushed out to the internet with little regard for quality. You will likely save a few dollars in the process, and possibly get quicker results. Unfortunately, it is also likely that you will pay later for web developers who cut corners. It can cost you visitors, online reputation, and dollars when you have to undo the damage caused by developer negligence. All in all, having a website done right the first time goes a long way.

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Head in the Cloud

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You have probably heard the term 'cloud' thrown about a lot lately in conversations about computing, websites, and mobile technology. Countless commercials for smartphones and computer operating systems use the word, but they never seem to clearly define it. Simply put, cloud computing refers to using multiple computers, or rather, servers, as one. To fully understand what this means, let's take a look back.

In the past, the only way to run an application was to have it installed on your computer, such as word processing programs or antivirus software. This meant that each user had to purchase a license to use his/her copy of the software. With the introduction of local area networks (LANs), the client-server model was born. This allowed the software to be installed on a server and accessed from any computer on the network. Batches of licenses could be purchased, saving cost and time.

Cloud computing is the next major development in server routing. Within this system, the entire application is housed and run on a web server- not just local networks- and accessed via the user's web browser. In other words, it is not necessary to have a client version installed in your system. All updates and fixes to the software can be done on the remote server, without having to upgrade each separate computer. Conveniently, this makes it possible to retrieve documents, music, videos, and more from any internet-capable device, without the need for large applications and individual licensing.

Cloud computing offers power and security advantages as well. When you access an application on one server, you are relying on the power and latency (a measure of time delay) of that particular machine. As more people access that server, it becomes slower. Eventually the server will not be able to handle the load, and it will shut down. With cloud computing, however, the data processing is handled over a series of machines as if they were just one machine. The more power needed, the more machines employed. Endless computing power is provided as necessary, with fewer chances of capped potential. All of this occurs over a secure network that is protected for the users of the service.

The Cloud, as it is commonly known, is a vast network of computing power and information sharing that lays the foundation for our latest mobile technology. Smartphones, tablet PCs, eReaders, and other devices rely on cloud servers to function more efficiently. You may be using several cloud systems already. Cloud computing is the next evolutionary step in the computer services world, opening future opportunities for how we access our information.

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Erotic Website Policy

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Over the past few months, Anttix has been approached a number of times with requests to build erotic websites. While there is no clear reason for this increasing trend, we would like to take this opportunity to review our policy.

Anttix is an established, highly skilled web design and development company. Our profile of clients is greatly varied, serving private businesses, the public sector, and several organizations. It is not our practice to judge the content of websites (outside of editing or marketing suggestions), however, we do maintain a line we will not cross. When it comes to blatant erotic or pornographic material, Anttix reserves the right to refuse any such project. Besides personal reasons for this decision, there are many necessary professional justifications.

Industry Standards-- While we would willingly refer customers desiring erotic website development to other companies, frankly, we do not know any that accept this type of work. Within the industry, such projects are generally regarded as inferior work that compromise the developer's reputation as a serious designer.

Commitment to Integrity-- Anttix stands on its reputation of integrity. Whether creating solutions to meet ever-changing technological demands, offering personalized customer service, or supporting our clients and business partners, we understand that websites that carry our name speak volumes about us.

Security Problems-- Building or hosting an erotic website is not as simple as constructing an ecommerce website. Companies that build/host pornographic websites on their servers invariably face additional security issues. Erotic websites are notorious for carrying malware and spam. In fact, we highly encourage customers to avoid these sites because of the heightened virus risk.

Legal Liabilities-- Given the nature of erotic websites, illegal content is often obtained and displayed. In such cases, the company who builds/hosts the website could also be held legally responsible. In short, any financial gain would be far outweighed by the legal risk.

Anttix recognizes and respects the diversity of website content, text, and images of the clients we serve. Likewise, we acknowledge the artistic role of the celebration of the human form within a proper and tasteful setting. In matters of erotic websites, however, we will always adhere to a policy that protects our clients as well as our reputation for integrity. That is why, when approached to create pornographic websites, we have always and will always offer an unapologetic, "no thanks!"

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This Old Drupal House

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Among web development companies, Anttix is referred to as a 'Drupal house'. Drupal is an open source content management system that is used to build websites. Mostly written in PHP scripting language, the Drupal framework can easily support multimedia, event calendars, social networking, customized page layouts, forums, user management, and permission features. It facilitates the development of large, complex websites and offers unique aspects unavailable through any other comparable solution. Our years of experience with Drupal allow us to build and customize solutions beyond those of other web designers.

By using Drupal, Anttix gives clients the following advantages:

Cost-Effective Solutions- Drupal keeps costs low by allowing us to build dynamic content management websites in less time, getting your website up and running efficiently. Anttix aims to complete each website within 30 days, and Drupal helps make that possible.

Easy Customization- Drupal gives us the flexibility to creatively design without limitation. There are literally thousands of modules available to upgrade and customize websites. In addition, Drupal permits custom programming and 3rd party integration for endless options. Anttix has handled a variety of features from basic shopping carts to more extensive online applications using the adaptability of Drupal.

Software Management- Open source software allows a large group of developers to easily publish, manage, and organize a variety of website content. Thousands of people and organizations have used Drupal to construct different types of websites, including community web portals and discussion sites, corporate websites and intranet portals, personal websites, e-commerce applications, and resource directories. Features enabling content management systems, blogs, collaborative authoring environments, forums, newsletters, picture galleries, file uploads/downloads, and much more are possible thanks to open source software.

SEO Friendliness- Drupal is among the most search engine friendly frameworks that can be optimized easily and quickly. The search engine optimization (SEO) compatibility, high scalability, and other amazing features bring your website to the forefront.

Strong Online & Developer Community- Drupal has over 3,000 active developers currently working with it, each of whom has helped shape the project into its current form. Not only are there online contributors adding new core code, modules, and templates, but the community regularly hosts conferences and seminars to share the latest advancements.

The many advantages Drupal offers have increased its demand among web solution developers. Basic Drupal functionalities can be further extended with a wide range of plug-ins and components, making it a premier scalable content management system. Anttix proudly uses Drupal in our website development projects large and small.

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Time For an Upgrade?

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Anttix insists on quality, and part of that quality is attained through the advanced software we use to create and maintain innovative websites. From time to time, the developers of our software send out updates, and we make it a priority to keep all updates current for maximum performance. Likewise, we recommend that all of our clients implement major or minor upgrades as necessary, particularly when making changes to their websites.

Major upgrades encompass changes to the core software and the way in which the site functions. When a site goes too long without a major upgrade, it is our responsibility to suggest one to the client. The upgrade is a way of introducing new, dynamic features to an older site. While this primarily modifies the administration end of the site, some upgrade releases improve the appearance of the site's face as well. New tools, structure changes, and enhanced user-friendliness result. As major upgrades take some time to complete, Anttix manages the transition so as not to interfere with site usage.

It is important to note that websites that never receive major upgrades risk having their software fall into 'legacy'. This condition occurs when an old version of the software gets permanently shelved and ignored by any further updates. At that point, the site must undergo a major upgrade in order to stay secure and stable.

Minor upgrades usually consist of fixes for security issues and newly discovered bugs, but no new features are added. Maintaining minor upgrades can go a long way in preventing disrepair, not unlike changing your car's oil on a regular basis. Minor updates can be done quickly and easily. When a client requests changes to his/her website, we often include the minor updates as a bonus service.

If you would like to know more about your website software version and whether or not your site might need an upgrade, feel free to give Anttix a call. Our representatives are happy to assist you.

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Neutralizing the Net

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The term 'net neutrality' is unfamiliar to most people, even though it may affect their access to certain aspects of the internet. The underlying principle states that internet user access networks should support restriction-free content, websites, platforms, kinds of equipment that may be attached, and modes of communication. In other words, your internet service provider (Comcast, AT&T, Verizon, etc.) should not be able to restrict you from accessing content outside of their networks.

This has not been past practice. As it stands, internet providers can block websites and services from their competitors. This is primarily used as a marketing gimmick, allowing the company to promote its own interests among its current customers. Such providers argue that a nondiscrimination clause would prevent them from showing how their services differ from and are superior to those of their competitors.

Despite the controversy, net neutrality is moving forward. On August 9, 2010, CEOs from Google and Verizon Communications endorsed a proposal of net neutrality to policymakers. They further wish to expand the Federal Communications Commission's (FCC) proposed nondiscrimination clause of their regulatory effort by adding a new, enforceable prohibition against discriminatory practices. For the first time, internet providers will be strictly prohibited from discriminating against or even prioritizing their own content, applications, or services in any way that causes harm to users or competitors. Companies like Verizon, Google, and AT&T have agreed to live with these terms, but not at the expense of losing precious promotion opportunities. Rather than discriminating or prioritizing traffic on the public network, providers will partner with third parties to offer additional content on their services. Examples include healthcare monitoring, advanced educational services, and new entertainment and gaming services. Providers can continue to develop innovative and exciting features while keeping their internet services open.

The debate as to whether net neutrality constitutes consumer advocacy or an infringement on the free market continues. Ultimately though, the internet user benefits from expanded access to all content and services on every network. Third party services will further enhance the consumer's online capability. As net neutrality advances, a variety of options will follow.

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Take a Peek

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How broad is the scope of Anttix design and development services? Just visit www.anttix.com sometime and click on our Portfolio. You will see a colorful gallery of thumbnail homepages of websites we have designed in recent years. Clicking the images reveals a brief description of the design concept, as well as a link to the website. You may even see your own website featured.

From private businesses to public institutions, a wide variety of goods and services are represented. Each client comes to Anttix with a unique vision for their website and specific requirements to meet that vision. That is why we approach every case with a tailored process that efficiently moves through each phase from the initial discovery survey to the successful launch and maintenance of your website.

If you are not already an Anttix client, check out a few samples of our work. The websites speak for themselves. If you want reliable site rendering coupled with distinct character, contact an Anttix representative for options regarding new website construction or existing website upgrades.

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Why W3C Matters

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By definition, W3C stands for World Wide Web Consortium, an international community where member organizations and the public work together to develop standards in the interest of leading the internet to its full potential. The key feature of this standardization is consistent and proper coding guidelines for programming languages HTML, CSS, and XML.

1995 saw the first battles of what have come to be known as the 'browser wars'. Netscape Navigator was the dominant browser of the day, but Microsoft's Internet Explorer was rapidly jockeying for a piece of the market exploding around this emerging technology. The competition led each to develop its own set of HTML standards-- similar to W3C's, but not an exact match.

While this kept branding unique, it left developers tearing their hair out trying to create websites that would appear and effectively and identically function in both browsers. In some cases, the task was simply impossible. The browser wars had essentially hindered the very websites that they featured.

Fast forwarding another ten years saw the continuation of the browser wars, but with a far greater respect for W3C standards. Programmers rejoice! Now, writing W3C compliant code guarantees that current browsers will render a website correctly. In addition, following W3C standards yields other benefits for your website:

  • Finds bugs in code-- Using W3C's HTML validator points out potential problems that can be fixed early on.
  • Guarantees future functionality-- Any new/future browsers will render your site correctly, based on the same W3C compliance.
  • Yields search engine respectability-- W3C compliance provides a solid foundation on which to build your marketing strategy.
  • Identifies professionals-- At this point, programmers who do not utilize W3C standards may be compromising your website's attributes, presentation, and performance. Anttix always programs within W3C compliance. For further information, contact us.
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See For Yourself

custom website design

If you are considering Anttix for your web development and/or hosting needs, but would like to see our creations firsthand, visit our website. View our Portfolio page for a wide range of websites that we have designed.

Because Anttix approaches each individual project uniquely with our custom 7-step process, we are able to serve clients as varied as law firms, construction companies, churches, funeral homes, community organizations, and others. Check out the key features for each of these websites, or click the direct link to see the elegant, innovative final products.

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Paperless Solutions Now Available

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"By the year 2000, you probably won't be using books, pens, or paper..." I remember hearing some forward-thinking teacher make this prediction when I was in grade school. While you will still find plenty of pens on my desk, and my bookshelves are far from empty, there is a certain amount of truth in the idea that we are moving toward paperless offices. Perhaps paperless is a bit of an exaggeration, but there are many simple electronic capabilities that allow us to reduce paper use, while saving time and effort.

Anttix has experience incorporating paper forms employees use regularly into web-based paperless solutions. For example, a request form that used to change hands four times before approval can be submitted, approved, reconciled, and archived entirely online. The immediate email notifications and status updates that support this format can be applied to limitless paper procedures.

Users report faster turn around times and less human error. Perhaps best of all, they don't miss the clutter! School personnel at every level benefit from the clean system that improves their existing processes. If questions about a workflow ever arise, they can easily review archives items, even years after the fact.

As with every application we employ, security is the utmost priority. Our paperless solutions give you peace of mind in knowing that your information is safe. You can also pat yourself on the back for taking another step toward an environmentally sound tomorrow. Contact one of our representatives for more information on simplifying your paper procedures.

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Domain Registration & Hosting

custom website design

Because Anttix website packages supply all of the essentials to keep your website running smoothly, people sometimes ask what the difference is between certain components. They particularly want to understand domain registration and hosting.

Domain registration, by definition, is the selection, purchasing, and recording of a unique website address on the Internet. The domain itself consists of all characters between the www and the .(suffix). To find out if a domain name is available, you can easily search the Internet. All domains are managed by the nonprofit Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, or ICANN. While ICANN coordinates and sets up domains, they have little to do with issues or problems that arise with websites.

Once registered, a domain name must be renewed annually, which is automatically handled by Anttix if your site is hosted by us. This is important to know so that you won't be fooled by scams that deceptively alert you that your domain registration is expiring. Of course, safe email practices should always be used as with any unsolicited mail.

Hosting, on the other hand, is simply renting out Internet space from a provider. In this case, quality means everything.  Anttix is pleased to offer both domain registration and hosting to our clients. Contact us for details on available packages and pricing, or just to ask a question. Our staff is ready to serve you.

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Maintaining a Great Website

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When we first launch a website for a client, there is a lot of enthusiasm and optimism. As time passes, however, site owners tend to take one of two paths. Some continue to update and add to the site on a regular basis, continually brainstorming new ideas to generate traffic. Others take a little less initiative. While everyone's level of comfort when dealing with website maintenance is different, there must be some interaction to keep the site fresh.

Anttix websites are, above all, dynamic. Simply put, they are fluidly designed to evolve easily. To make the most of this, owners must add/change content from time to time. This usually works best when one person is designated to perform this task. Then, to guarantee a continued response, it must be marketed. (See Anttix Antics, August 2008 for more marketing strategies.)

In addition, strongly consider updating your style every two or three years. This is where branding enters in. Think of a major brand, such as McDonald's. While the basic design remains the same, alterations in slogan, feel, and promotional focus take place every few years. While many of us can still recite the "Two all-beef patties..." song, imagine how it would have lost its charm if McDonald's was still using the same tired campaign! Apply this same principle to your business. Never get too comfortable in the notion that 'it is finished'. Instead, always look toward the next step up.

Finally, just as communicating with clients is important, so is communicating with Anttix. Be proactive in letting us know your needs, and we will provide solutions. If you are curious about a feature that you see on another website, ask us about it. Chances are, it is easier to incorporate than you may think. In appreciation of your business, we strive to make ourselves an ongoing resource to our clients

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