Monthly Archives: February 2016 | Force 5
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Monthly Archives: February 2016

Feb
23

A webcam was recently installed at the Notre Dame Linked Experimental Ecosystem Facility (ND-LEEF) at St. Patrick's County Park after two bald eagles took over an existing red-tailed hawk nest.  This is clearly an attempt by the eagles to break into the avian reality tv market and compete with South Bend's Peregrine Falcons.   For your convenience, I have included the feeds to both bird cams, so you can decide for yourself which is more exciting...

Bald Eagles Cam at ND-LEEF

To read more about the bald eagles, go to: http://environmentalchange.nd.edu/programs/nd-leef/eagles/

 

South Bend Peregrine Falcon Cam 

To read more about the peregrine falcons, go to: http://www.ci.south-bend.in.us/residents/content/peregrine-falcons

Feb
20

The role of the CMS at Force 5

Posted on February 20, 2016 by nmcelwrath

Force 5’s arsenal of tools that we use to plan, build and measure websites expands daily. It’s the nature of the industry - growing and adapting to the industry as needed. One such tool is growing to be an essential part of our web offering; the CMS or Content Management System. We have implemented numerous CMS sites on the web within the last year and in doing so, learned to appreciate some of the benefits that using a CMS framework has to offer. Our top reasons are not only help our clients, but help our development efficiency as well.

Synchronous Workflow

Content Management Systems (CMS) store the content in a database, completely independent of the site design and layout. A site’s content can be entered via the CMS administrator interface while the site structure is being built. This is a huge timesaver that before, depended on the site structure and layout to be established before content could be placed and styled. What results is a more efficient workflow.

Client Empowerment

Many site owners could probably attest to the fact that content management is a science. A painful, agonizing science. Often content changes are involved and are moved through a process with many steps - often complicating the process with additional changes and additional time. With a CMS based site, clients have the freedom to login from any web accessible computer and make changes to the site themselves. Whether it’s a hotel lobby or using your smartphone while traveling, clients have the freedom to make changes to the content of their site. This level of freedom is not only empowering, it brings smiles to client’s faces - which of course makes us happy.

Cost Effective

Compared to the typical workflow of updating your site’s content, the steps involved in updating your site can be numerous. Using a CMS not only cuts the number of steps, but it cuts the amount of time needed to update the content. Any manager would be thrilled to manage less steps in any process.

Security

A diverse community of developers focused on Drupal and Wordpress security exists to seek out vulnerabilities and patch them before they are exploited. The development community are very reactive to any vulnerabilities. We monitor the security threats for each of our CMS sites to ensure the software is up-to-date to limit threats.

Extensibility and Flexibility

The ability to grow with the goals and objectives is important to the longevity of the site. Being able to keep up and change with trends and the ever changing web industry is a huge advantage. Making sure it is able to handle feature changes and additions is also important. Both Drupal and Wordpress are able to grow with the majority of the sites we employ, marking the CMS as a crucial part of our toolset at Force 5.

Force 5's CMS' of choice: Drupal and Wordpress

Why does Force 5 use 2 different content management systems? We’ve found each have their own strengths and weaknesses. We’ve found that Drupal has a higher “feature” ceiling and is overall more customizable and flexible while Wordpress shines on smaller sites where blogs and static content are the main focus. We match up the right CMS to the long-term objective of each site. Do you have any experience with either Drupal or Wordpress? Leave a comment below.

Feb
12

Democrat, Republican, or Favicon?

Posted on February 12, 2016 by marty

What is a Favicon?  It is a 16x16 pixel image that is shown next to your web page’s title on the tab in browser address bar. 

Favicons are usually overlooked, but I think they are a nice touch on a website.  I thought that maybe it was just a quirk of mine, but then I read the article “What’s The Point Of Favicons?” by Ray Vellest, and I was glad to find someone shared my enthusiasm for favicons.  Ray points out “favicons are very little things, probably the least important bit of a site, but it’s attention to detail that makes a site stand out; and even if it sounds crazy, favicons are very important from a branding point-of-view.”

Favicons aren’t easy to work with because you only get a total of 256 pixels to create a recognizable image.  If we take my work headshot and shrink it down to favicon size, this is what you get…

100x100 pixels
16x16 pixels

 

And here is how I look in a favicon image editor:

So how do the favicons of the presidential candidates look? (I tried to keep the more recognizable ones at the end)
 

Marco Rubio

 

Bernie Sanders

 

John Kasich

 

Jim Gilmore (His website doesn't appear to have a favicon uploaded)

 

Donald Trump

 

Ben Carson

 

Ted Cruz

 

Jeb Bush

 

Hillary Clinton

 

See how the candidates rank in Marty's Web Presence Presidential Political Poll (MWPPPP), which looks at factors like 404_error pages and 160-character stump speech.

 

Feb
12

What you can learn from a Pinball Machine

Posted on February 12, 2016 by marty

Jerod Bast, the General Sales Manager at WSBT AM/FM and WHFB in South Bend, stopped by the Force 5 office for a meeting yesterday.  After talking business, we hit the vintage Coke machine in the lobby and played a game of pinball.  Afterward, Jerod wrote a post on Linkedin about the lessons one can learn from a pinball machine, I thought it was good, so I wanted to share it on our blog...

Jerod Bast

I was at a client's yesterday who happened to have a pinball machine in the lobby so of course I had to pull the plunger.

As I was playing, I was thinking how much the Pinball Game represents the business world:

Aim and Don't Flail  When you first start playing pinball, it is easy to just push the flipper button as fast as  you can to get the ball where you want to go instead of aiming where you want the ball to go.  Many small business flail away trying at how to grow their business instead of aiming.  They try to be everything for everyone and end up wasting a lot of energy.

Don't Tilt Many novice players will try to bump the machine when the game is not going their way or make the ball go where they want it to go instead of right down the middle.  In the business world, you are going to deal with failures.  Don't overact.  Remember what made you successful and focus on what made you successful, not freaking out with a bad month or quarter.

Keep pulling the plunger Success doesn't happen over night.  If you aren't losing you aren't trying.  Failure is part of the job.  Don't compound the pain of failure by not learning from it or you will be doomed to repeat it.

You don't have to be a pinball wizard to be a success.  Just have the perseverance to continuously to improve and the game will be second nature. 

 

For the original post, go to https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/what-you-can-learn-from-pinball-machine-j....  To see more of Jerod's posts, go to https://www.linkedin.com/today/author/38994449

 

 

Feb
11

Marty's Web Presence Presidential Political Poll (MWPPPP)

Posted on February 11, 2016 by marty

Latest Polling Numbers:

 

REPUBLICAN PRIMARY

     
Overall Average Candidate 404 Page 160-Character Stump Speech Favicon
18.7% Cruz 19.0% 17.4% 19.8%
18.3% Bush 22.2% 12.8% 19.8%
16.1% Rubio 17.5% 18.6% 12.3%
16.0% Kasich 14.3% 14.0% 19.8%
12.8% Trump 9.5% 14.0% 14.8%
12.0% Carson 9.5% 12.8% 13.6%
6.1% Gilmore 7.9% 10.5% 0.0%

 

DEMOCRAT PRIMARY

     
Overall Average Candidate 404 Page 160-Character Stump Speech Favicon
58.8% Clinton 55% 60% 61.5%
41.2% Sanders 45% 40% 38.5%
  • The 404 Page Poll ranks the 404 Not Found Error pages of each of the candidates.
  • The 160-Character Stump Speech ranks how the Title Tag and Meta Desciptions for each of the candidates show up on a search engine results page (SERP).
  • The Favicon Poll ranks the Favicons on the websites of each of the candidates.
Feb
11

The 160-Character Stump Speech

Posted on February 11, 2016 by marty

On a search engine results page (SERP), the listing of results returned by a search engine in response to a keyword query generally show two bits of information from your webpage, the title tag and the meta description.

TITLE TAG - Title tags / Page Titles are critical to giving users a quick insight into the content of a result and why it’s relevant to their query. These tags have a real impact on search rankings and are often the primary piece of information used to decide which result to click on, so it's important to use high-quality, descriptive page titles on your web pages. Google typically displays the first 50-60 characters of a title tag.

META DESCRIPTION - Meta descriptions are a snippet of about 160 characters that summarizes a web page’s content, and is a large part of what is displayed in search results.  Crafting a readable, compelling description using important keywords can improve the click-through rate for a given webpage.   Google recommends that every page on your site has a unique meta description. 

Properly worded and formatted meta tags can have an impact on a website’s search engine rankings and click-through rates, so great care should be used in crafting these snippets because you only have 50-60 characters in the title tag and about 160 characters in the meta description to sell yourself.

If you don't have a meta description (or some pages have multiple meta descriptions), Google may select text from the content of your page, so your SERP listing could show up differently.

So how to the Title Tags and Meta Descriptions of the 2016 Presidential Candidates stack up?

(Not to show any favoritism, these are ordered according to the most recent Real Clear Politics national poll.  We showed the Democrats first in the Presidential 404 Pages post, so Republicans get to go first on this one.)

Republicans


Democrats

 

Since these are all less than inspriring, I also looked at some of third-party candidate and some candidates that have dropped out of the race.

Since the Larry Lessig wesite doesn't have a meta description written on the page, Google will pick text from the content of the page, which is why you have "portrait image for lessig" displayed in the results.

 

It looks like Gary Johnson, Gary Johnson, Gary Johnson, Gary Johnson, Gary Johnson, Gary Johnson is trying to stuff keywords.  Note that keywords in the meta description don't have a direct impact on rankings, but Google and other search engines will bold keywords in the description when they match search queries.  

 


You probably don't need a link to the webpage in the meta description on that page.

 

For the full Marty's Web Presence Presidential Political Poll (MWPPPP), go to http://www.discoverforce5.com/blog/post/martys-web-presence-presidential...

Feb
10

Presidential 404 Pages

Posted on February 10, 2016 by marty

According to Googlea 404 page is what a user sees when they try to reach a non-existent page on your site (because they've clicked on a broken link, the page has been deleted, or they've mistyped a URL). A 404 page is called that because in response to a request for a missing page, webservers send back a HTTP status code of 404 to indicate that a page is not found. While the standard 404 page can vary depending on your ISP, it usually doesn't provide the user with any useful information, and most users may just surf away from your site.

Google recommends that you create a custom 404 page, one that will help people find the information they're looking for, as well as providing other helpful content and encouraging them to explore your site further.

Here are some of their suggestions for creating an effective 404 page that can help keep visitors on your site and help them find the information they're looking for:

  • Tell visitors clearly that the page they're looking for can't be found. Use language that is friendly and inviting.
  • Make sure your 404 page uses the same look and feel (including navigation) as the rest of your site.
  • Consider adding links to your most popular articles or posts, as well as a link to your site's home page.
  • Think about providing a way for users to report a broken link.
     

So how do the 404 pages of the 2016 Presidential Candidates stack up?  You decide....

Not to show any favoritism (even though some 404 pages are a lot better than others), these are ordered according to the most recent Real Clear Politics national poll.

 

Hillary Clinton

Hillary Clinton 404 Page

 

Bernie Sanders

 

Donald Trump

 

Ted Cruz

 

Marco Rubio

 

Dr. Ben Carson

 

Jeb Bush

 

John Kasich

 

Jim Gilmore

Feb
05

Hot Dogging and Blogging

Posted on February 5, 2016 by marty

Today I had to run out to Elkhart to run an errand.  That gave me the opportunity to meet up for lunch with my friend Chris who works out there, and try a new restaurant that opened last fall.  I had read about Hotdogeddy’s on the Flavor 574 website, and although I am not generally a huge fan of hot dogs, my friend is.

I went with 2 plain hot dogs with raw onions, while my friend was a little more adventurous.  He had a Chicago Dog (mustard, tomato, pickle, sport peppers & celery salt) and a Downtown (bacon dog with pico de gallo, sriracha aioli, southwest mustard & jalapenos).  Meal was great, and if I ever get back to Elkhart, I’ll eat there again.

But the best part was when the owner Ed Hayden came out and started talking with us about his business, about hot dogs, how he comes up with ideas for the menu, etc.  And it got me thinking about some lessons that I can take away about writing this blog.

1.  Be passionate about what you are writing about – It’s obvious that Ed is passionate about his hot dog business.  He operated a hot dog cart for about 5 years before opening up the restaurant.  He takes great care in coming up with ideas for his menu, and keeps a notebook full of ideas.  He has a regular menu of about 5 or 6 dogs, and adds a few specials.

2.  Go for quality – my friend is a bit of a hot dog connoisseur, and noted how it was one of the best Chicago Dogs that he has had in a long time.  Many other places will cut corners, using cheap hot dogs, relish from a can, pickles without a good snap or the wrong peppers.  Hotdogeddy’s takes the time to make it right, and the product shows it.

3. Have a story to tell – one of the things I found most interesting was how he came up with ideas for the menu, and the people that some of the items are named after, like the Monica and the Sami.  The stories were so interesting, I might even have to try those next time.

So let me be frank, writing for your blog doesn’t have to be hard, and if you use the same process as Ed Hayden uses for his Hot Dog business, you’ll be writing red-hot blogs in no time, and everyone will be a wiener…. err, winner.

If you want to try out Hotdogeddy’s, it’s located at 700 South Main Street in Elkhart, Indiana.  (Facebook, Twitter).

If you want to learn more about Hot Dog Etiquette, check out this guide from the National Hot Dog and Sausage Council.