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Website Design

The subject of designing websites including color, layout, usability, and backend interfaces.

New Year - New Site!

Website Redesign

Each and every year we learn something new about web design, development, marketing, and security. As new projects come along, we apply these new techniques, standards, and practices to make sure all of our sites are as current as possible. These upgrades include new and innovative styles along with exciting new technology breakthroughs and the latest versions of software offering exciting new features. If time and cost permitted we would update every site we maintain as often as possible, but to conserve both of those valuable resources we revisit a website every three years or so. There are few things we enjoy more than updating and restyling a site we created for a client, much like renovating a home or detailing a car. When it comes down to it, newer is better.

So when it comes to our website, we are no exception. Our website contains many of the same features and all of the same quality as the websites we create for our clients. We believe in practicing what we preach, so we revisit our website from time to time and rebuild it with new features, content, and a brand new design. It is also an excellent way to show our client's examples of website styles and features we use ourselves, that they may, in turn, apply them to their projects. If a function or design is good enough for our clients, it is certainly good enough for us.

That being said, this new website includes a dynamic video background feature, a newly updated and categorized portfolio, a current and recently updated list of comprehensive website services, updated blog article section, and integrated support. All of this content is packaged into a new responsive design with easy access to all available content. We are proud to bring all of this to our new and existing clients and hopefully inspire them to renew their site in this new year.

To learn more, browse your way through our new site and find out what we have in store for 2017!

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Behind the Design

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During the past several months Anttix has spoken quite a bit about Responsive Design and how we have entirely adopted this method of design to accommodate all devices our websites may be viewed on. It has already become very clear to our clients that their website is not just viewed on desktop computers but phones and tablets as well. In most cases the mobile devices are used to view these websites more often than anything else. While many of you may now understand what responsive design are you may not know what Anttix puts into our process to make these websites possible and ensure the best quality we can. This article delves into the behind-the-scenes of our design process and sheds some light on the method to our madness.

The first step involves finding the important aspects of a site's design to our client. We are not template developers who simply give our clients pre-designed options and cookie-cutter designs. Instead, we work closely with the client to determine what is important to them. We find the proper menus, bold images, and crucial content areas for their business, organization, or group. When that is determined we can design around those important areas and determine the best way to highlight them. Once the design is approved we can move on to the next stage of the process.

In our next phase we begin the complex process of "build-out." The build-out process brings everything to life, coding and developing images for the final, functioning website or application project. This involves complicated scripts, special resources, and custom-designed images that make the one-of-kind sites our clients ask for. The build-out process lets us trouble-shoot problem areas and built interactive features that grab the attention of the targeted users. There is nothing more frustrating than a poorly functioning website and we strive for that never to happen.

Lastly, but certainly not least, comes the Quality Assurance (QA) portion of our process. This is arguably the most important part of our process, as it locates any problems or overlooked items before the site/application goes live. The QA process involves a broken link check, a W3C web standards compliance check, spelling and grammar checks, performance enhancements for speed and quality, and much more. In addition to these QA steps, a full responsive check has to be done to ensure the sites work with many devices. Just testing on one desktop, one Smartphone, and one type of tablet is not enough. At Anttix we test on 7" and 10" android tablets, Apple iPads generation 2 and above, multiple Smartphone resolutions and other tricky sizes just to be sure. By no means can we cover all ground when it comes to the every-changing mobile device world, but we certainly do our best to test as many as possible.

In the end, we deliver a website or web-based application we are proud of. We have no interest in pushing out products at a rapid pace just for payment.  We deliver high-end service we can stand behind, at an affordable rate. Quality over quantity will always win for Anttix and our client's in the end.

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Website Trend Awards

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As Oscar and Emmy season approaches we at Anttix decided to give our own awards to website trends you, the World Wide Web visitors, have embraced so far in 2014. We call attention to these trends as signs of things to come and smart moves for all website owners to take moving into the next year. Don't confuse trends for gimmicks and fly-by-night ideas, these practices are here to stay and have a very positive effect on your website.

Mobile Sites Out / Responsive Sites In

Several months ago Anttix embraced the idea of "mobile first" putting the visibility of websites on mobile sites at the front of our minds. Buildings sites that responded well to different sized devices was our top priority. This does not mean ignoring the desktop viewers, but rather paying more attention to the devices a majority of web users viewed websites with. During our research we found a responsive site, or rather a site that keeps the same content but changes to accommodate the screen size, was highly favored over the early days of the stand-alone mobile websites. Users simply did not want a different experience from the mobile version of a website than they did from the desktop. The only time a mobile website seemed feasible was for the development of an app that served a very specific purpose. As most clients did not require apps, responsive was the way to go and will be for some time to come.

Flat Design

As sites grew flashier and bolder we stay an influx of 3d and "pop off the page" designs to catch the user’s attention. With the introduction of Windows 8 and iOS7 we saw that trend scale back and favor a flat and simple layout. These types of designs are less distracting, cleaner, and become much easier to navigate. Often time we adopt the old adage "less is more" and concentrate on professional looks that are both simplistic and attractive. So far the industry leaders in interface design such as Microsoft™ and Apple™ must agree, spreading the trend of flat design across multiple platforms and websites.

HTML5/CSS3

These programming languages may not be familiar to everyone but what they do mean to all website owners is faster websites with cleaner functions. Taking advantage of these new web programming technologies means fewer need for images and bulky scripts that weigh down websites and cause compatibility issues across browsers and devices. HTML5 and CSS3 strive for impressive website designs and animations powered by technology supported across the entire gamut of web services. While trends like Flash-based websites have all but died out the newer HTML5 and CSS3 websites are only growing.

Less Text, More Real Content

Search engines like Google only get smarter by the minute. The results are fewer black hat content spamming techniques doing any good for website that employ them. Instead, sites with clean and honest content with proper use of keywords get higher rankings for all the right reasons. Search engines actually learn what good content is and what is bad and use that knowledge to support all good websites across the board. The end result is their users getting the results they want, not what gets forced on them.

Video For Everyone

Not only does mobile technology make it easier and easier to take and share videos right from your mobile phone but in conjunction content distribution networks (CDNs) like YouTube™ and Vimeo™ make it even easier to host and share your videos as well. More and more videos are shared across the web each day for everything from DIY home improvement to greater music video sharing than MTV (past and especially present). These simple video tools allow website owners to share commercials, advertisements, promos, and trailers from sales to charity events. On top of it all, YouTube is one of the leading social media sharing websites ranking up there with Twitter and Facebook. This means video can be one of the greatest tools to drive traffic to your website.

Want to learn more about these trends and how they might apply to your website? Give us a call at 877-426-8849 or email us here.

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Understanding the Web- Part III: Design

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Often the design phase of a website's construction is the part to which clients can most relate. It is easier to contemplate how a website will look rather than how it will work. With design comes the face of the website-- its visual expression and what is sometimes referred to as its 'feel'. This is the impression the site gives the visitor when he/she first views it. Professional or amateur. Fun or serious. Simple or complex. All of these factors build the personality of the website and appeal to different users in different ways.

Ultimately, one group and one group only matter when a website is designed. That group is the users, defined as those who are going to invest time and possibly money into your business. The design is the first visual cue to your users as to what kind of business or organization you are. Site designs that do not accurately send that cue tend to drive away users and act counterproductively against the website's purpose.
Effective design takes your needs into account, (including your logo, preferred colors, and imagery,) but the design drives toward your audience. A designer may research the industry to see how others with similar businesses or groups present themselves. He/she may consider designs that appeal to the mood your product or service should suggest. For example, a website that sells bouncy castles may be fun and light, with bright colors and whimsical pictures of children having fun. Every factor from a company’s history to its best selling service may work its way into the design. Design is representation, and often, reputation.
Design is often the key to the door of your identity as a business or organization. Users determine whether that key is worth turning, depending on whether the site appears reputable, professional, and trustworthy. In this age of fraud and identity theft, users are more cautious about using websites with suspicious intent, as they should be. A proper design can be the first step to alleviating those doubts.

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508-Compliant Websites

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Section 508 of the Workforce Rehabilitation Act of 1973 requires federally funded agencies to ensure that their procurement of information technology takes into account the needs of all users, including those with disabilities. To create that a website is 508-compliant, certain criteria must be met. Following is a list of basic guidelines.

Offer Text Equivalents to Images
Alternative text provides a textual replacement for pictures (images). Screen readers and talking browsers cannot do anything with an image itself, but they can announce the alternative text instead.

Present Synchronized Multimedia
Text equivalents for multimedia content must be synchronized with the presentation. In other words, captions must be included. Web authors are encouraged to include transcripts of audio content as well as synchronized alternatives since transcripts permit searching and extracting.

Remain Independent of Color
Do not convey important information with color alone. Fonts, special characters, images with alt-text, or other context denote meaning for users with color-viewing impairments.

Stay Independent of Style Sheets
Do not substitute style changes for the structural elements of HTML like headings, paragraphs, and lists.

Provide Redundant Links for Server-Side Maps
Redundant text links are necessary in each active region of a server-side image map.

Use Client-Side Image Maps
Because polygons can be used to describe any area in as much detail as desired, it makes sense to use only client-side image maps rather than server-side maps.

Label Row and Column Headers
Row and column headers must be identified for data tables.

Use Headers Attribute in Complex Tables
Markup must be used to associate data cells and header cells for tables that have two or more logical levels of row/column headers.

Supply Frame Titles (attributes and elements)
Frames must be titled with text that facilitates frame identification and navigation.

Reduce Flicker
As a last resort, a text-only site can be created for 508-compliance. The text-only site must have all the information of the main site, must be updated with the same frequency as the main site, and must be immediately and obviously accessible from the main page. When creating such sites, it is important to:

1.Write accessible scripts that can be read by assistive technology.

2.Make applets and plug-ins completely functional without a mouse. Assistive technology must be able to determine the role and default action of each focused object.

3.Design accessible forms that allow people using assistive technology to access the information, field elements, and functionality required for completion and submission of the form, including all directions and cues.

4.Offer skip navigation, allowing users to skip over navigation links.

5.Alert users of timed responses, and give ample time for completion.

If your website requires a few upgrades to become 508-compliant, contact Anttix. Our representatives can assist you in a complete evaluation of your website, as well as any necessary changes.

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How Are You Viewing the Web?

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Just a few years ago, the sharing and receiving of electronic information only took place in the home or office. Now, mobile technology has changed how and where we view internet content. Cell phones, laptops, and tablet PCs are ubiquitous, all powered by fast Wi-Fi networks available everywhere from airplanes to fast food restaurants.

Not surprisingly, mobile devices have taken off rapidly, leaving the home PC to decline in usage in just a few short years. Some experts estimate that over 1.83 billion mobile browsers will be in use by 2013, compared to a dwindling 1.78 billion desktop browsers. By 2015, a majority of people will use their mobile devices as their primary browsing tools.

What does this mean for the average business owner? For starters, if you own a website, now is a good time to look into making your site 'mobile friendly'. This sometimes means developing a mobile design for your website. Products like m.facebook.com render your site more effectively for mobile viewing. In other cases, it is necessary to create mobile applications for your business, or just simply make your site more accessible on smaller screens. Your web design and development company should be able to offer advice as to what mobile strategies are best for your business. Anttix has made this a primary service for our clients.

Embracing mobile trends simply means keeping up with the latest technology and finding new ways to use our devices to make life more convenient. Just as the microwave changed home cooking forever, mobile devices have revolutionized the sharing of information, ideas, and communication in ways we never expected. The key is to anticipate refined mobile technology developments, and to approach solutions creatively, from the standpoint of the on-the-go user.

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Flash & the Future of Web Content

Adobe Flash

In many of our projects, Anttix has used Flash to create what is called rich media content for websites. This highly interactive and visually appealing content is attractive to users' senses. At the same time, though, we have discouraged clients from using too much Flash content or building an entire site from Flash. We still maintain this advice as the excessive use of Flash has more drawbacks than ever.

In the past, our main concerns regarding too much Flash were load times and search engine optimization. First and foremost, Flash files can be large and take a while to load. Small Flash files, such as rotating image animation, have insignificant load times, but websites created entirely in Flash can take several minutes to load. Site visitors never appreciate a long wait just to view your content. In addition, when it comes to search engines, they have no way to pull the information in a Flash movie for their content analysis. This can significantly impact a website's search engine ranking in a negative way.

While those reasons still apply, there is a new problem with using too much Flash. The growing interest in iPhones and iPads has seen Flash suffer with incompatibility issues with the device browsers. Even other smartphones struggle to integrate Flash players into their operating systems. The use of Flash in mobile technology is minimal at best.

So the question becomes, why use Flash at all? The truth is it may be in a rough patch, but it is not going away anytime soon. We do not want to throw the proverbial baby out with the bathwater. When it comes to developing rich media content for websites, Flash is still dominant. New technologies, such as HTML 5 and Ajax are starting to catch up, so more and more options are available, but Flash still holds its place. In fact, Adobe, the developer of Flash, continues to create new and exciting content.

As for Anttix, we are dedicated to keeping up with all of the latest software, scripting, and technology in the industry to provide the best solutions to our clients. Whether Flash, HTML 5, or any other source of interactivity, we believe in using the right tool for the right job. If that tool is Flash, we will always approach its use with caution, good taste, and appropriateness.

If you have concerns about Flash on your website, please contact an Anttix representative to discuss it. We are happy to hear your thoughts and to share our advice.

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Flashdance

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Have you ever gone to a website and been impressed by the moving or changing pictures that greet you? Have you ever gone to a website and been annoyed by these same features? Flash is the program that makes this possible. Depending on design, it can be implemented as an entire website, or just part of a site. In some cases, the images are interactive, adding further interest for the viewer.

With so many attention-grabbing aspects, why wouldn't everyone want Flash incorporated into their website? Think of it as a risk/reward tradeoff. On one hand, websites containing Flash images take up more bandwidth, which can lead to slower loading speeds and higher hosting expenses. These may be inconsequential, however, if you have a gallery of photographs or a mobile presentation that needs to make an immediate statement.

You may also like the fact that Flash holds the interest of the viewer, but be aware that search engines will not necessarily be attracted to your website. In fact, search engines cannot even read Flash because it is comprised of embedded images rather than straightforward text. Again, you must consider both sides.

Should you decide that you want to use Flash in your website, give yourself a few guidelines. Start by asking yourself why you want Flash. Will it enhance your website and increase repeat traffic, or do you just want it as a gimmick? Next consider how you want to use the images. Is there a way for site visitors to interact? Plan carefully and remember that too much of a good thing can drive people away once the novelty wears off. Finally, discuss all of your options and ideas with your experienced website developer. At Anttix, we are capable and more than happy to utilize Flash, but we want to make sure that it is used in the most flattering, effective way for your unique website.

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Yes We Can, Unless...

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From eCommerce to unique graphic design, you know the many services Anttix offers. Did you also know, though, that there are limitations to what Anttix can and will do in the realm of website development?

For obvious reasons, Anttix will not create any website that will be used for unlawful purposes. We also reserve the right to terminate service of any website promoting pornographic images or video. "So what?" You may be saying to yourself. "How does this apply to me?" We mention it because it is just another mark of integrity that Anttix brings to the industry. Consequently, you never have to worry or wonder about the ethical nature of the company that powers your site.

To further protect you, we will not register any domain that has the potential to infringe upon another party's rights. If a questionable issue arises, we will make adjustments before ever creating the site. Lastly, Anttix insists that owners/users agree not to use our service to send bulk, unsolicited email. (We dislike spam as much as you do.)

Anttix strives to bring elegant innovation to every step of the web development process. If at any point you have questions about the "dos and don'ts" of website management, feel free to contact us.

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