Pre-packaged themes are a package full of problems: Keep it Custom

In today’s fast-paced world, pre-packaged themes seem like the best option for getting a website fast and cheap. This decision can be quite dangerous, while initially pre-packaged themes seem like a great deal, in the long run they will slow you down. For this reason custom themes are better for your business.

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They slow you down, driving visitors (and potential sales) away

Did you know that 40% of visitors leave if the website if not fully loaded in 3 seconds or less?

Using pre-packaged themes can slow down your website with extensive JavaScript files that come with them. Since pre-packaged themes are one-size fits all, they come with a lot of JavaScript features and all these files pile up and slow down your website. If you, any member of your company, or potential clients have a slower internet connection, your website will be a major inconvenience. Nobody likes a slow loading website, and with pre-packaged themes you should prepare for the complaints from anyone who needs to use your website. However, with a Custom Theme made specifically for your website, you get only the features you want; your site will be optimized and tailor-made just for you, and you will not have to worry about all the extras slowing down your website.

They update too often, without your needs in mind

Pre-packaged themes will require several updates throughout the year, these updates can potentially reset and changes or modification back to its default leaving you back to square one. The people who create pre-packaged themes are constantly changing and trying to improve their themes so that people will continue to purchase them. Due to this, updates have their theme in mind and not your business’ branding. With a Custom Theme, all the updates that will be required throughout the year will be made with your website in mind, they will not break your website, only improve them.

Hackers love them

Pre-packaged themes slow down your website and require heavy maintenance but they are also known to be more unsafe in terms of hacking. It is much more cost-efficient for hackers, spammers and viruses to infest themselves through a Pre-Packaged theme than a Custom Theme made for the company. Hackers will want to get more birds with one stone, if they learn to hack a theme they can hack more people. Your company needs to be extremely careful for this and will have to be sure to find good anti-spam plugins to protect the website if a pre-packaged theme is used.

They may be made for you, but they’re not made for your business

Pre-packaged themes are not made for your website only, they are made for several, they do not cater to the corporate identity of your company. The overall aesthetic and functionality of a theme can change without warning so it is not the best option for serious companies with strong corporate branding. There is only so much you can do with a theme as well, unlike building your own website you have to settle for the theme dimensions and how it looks as opposed to having everything where you want it to be and how you want it to work.

Get a fully-functioning Custom Theme today with WebCakes

Pre-packaged themes are an easy way to make a website, and are cheaper, but are they really better for your company? When you take everything into consideration, choosing a pre-packaged theme over a Custom Theme website is more trouble than it’s worth. Building a custom theme may take longer, but specialized web agencies takes your branding, target audience, and business goals into account when creating a solution custom-tailored to your needs. If you decide to take the safe option and employ a web development agency, be sure to choose WebCakes. WebCakes specializes in covering all bases when creating a custom theme fully tailored for your business.

You can contact us today for a free quote.

Google’s new mobile friendly ranking system is nothing to fear!

Businessman With His Smartphone

On April 21st, popular search engine Google released its new algorithm which will change the mobile searching game, in all languages. This new algorithm will cause websites to be ranked by mobile friendliness on a page by page basis. The algorithm will look at many key factors including: responsive design, usability, readability, use of Adobe Flash Player, page loading times and optimization. Another new factor being implemented is that app content for phones will now be considered in your site’s rankings after manually activating app indexing.

With technology rapidly changing, the use of mobile devices has dramatically increased; if users need to search for something on-the-go, they’re first instinct is to use their phone. Google is aware of the increase in mobile use, and therefore the new Google Mobile Algorithm was conceived.

So, what does this all mean for your business?

With this new algorithm, mobile user experience will drastically improve, based on the above factors. Your site rankings will go down on Google if your site is not mobile friendly. Sites that are mobile friendly will gain more visibility on Google, allowing searchers to find the information they’re looking for on sites that are tailored to the device they are using.

Before the new Google Mobile Algorithm was implemented, businesses lost clients because of poor mobile design. By promoting businesses to adapt to the technological upgrades of the modern world, Google is making clients and customers happier. Customers are able to view and find the information they need easier and quicker which in-turn brings more conversions for mobile friendly businesses.

What can you do about this?

If your company is worried about the Google Mobile Algorithm, don’t panic, because there are two easy steps that you can do to keep your site Google friendly:

  1. Our first step is to use Google’s Usability Report, which can test your site for mobile friendliness.
  2. If your score wasn’t up to snuff, Google has released a Mobile Friendly Guide, which you can follow to make your site more mobile friendly.

Follow these steps and you should be in good ranks on Google. Remember, this is a necessary step to growing your business and the mobile industry as a whole. If you are unsure how to do all of this yourself, don’t fret, WebCakes is here to help.

How can WebCakes help?

At WebCakes we specialize in responsive design and providing excellent user experience. All of our designs are made to look great and function on all platforms. We know how to create and use all the factors that make sites mobile friendly, and we are also able to provide your company with all the tips and tricks to keep mobile users happy on your site. By choosing WebCakes, you’re choosing to satisfy your clients with a fully functioning website that is easy to use with all their favourite devices.

Contact us today for free estimate!

Helping a family in need

WebCakes is proud to have been involved helping set up the Lin Jun Family Trust. In a confusing and frustrating time for the family of Lin Jun, we stepped to the plate and provided a secure space to help ease the harm caused to them.

The Lin Jun Family Trust

From a technical standpoint, we provided a small, secure donations page with a guestbook, and worked with companies such as Digital Days, Pivotal Payments, and BLG to make this happen. Of course, our combined involvement goes far beyond website development; we’ve had the privilege of creating a solution which provides at least some level of reassurance and comfort for the family. We are honoured to have worked with such a professional, diverse team and look forward in continuing our efforts to help the family of Lin Jun in any way we can.

We provided a responsive solution which featured portrait-oriented images of Lin Jun and his family. As a general rule, design favours landscape images, which are much easier to resize on different devices. This pushed us to find a unique and effective solution which satisfied our partners and the family.

Another major task worth consideration was the joint coordination between several parties within a small frame of time: Digital Days provided a secure hosting environment, while Pivotal Payments provided a robust payment gateway to integrate with. Within a tight deadline, we managed to efficiently collaborate and create a solution built with the best practices of each field in mind. We even made some friends along the way.

We urge the community to show their support and demonstrate empathy to the family, as they have little access to professional resources or financial support. Donations can be made here: www.linjunfamily.com

Launch Miniseries Post #5 – Wrapping up

I’d like to end our miniseries on a short note. If someone were to ask me what the most important attribute of our business model is, how we carry out our motto “Surprise & Delight”, it’s this:

Be transparent. Don’t beat around the bush when it comes to pricing and time-estimates. If you’re concerned about a possible speed-bump in the project, let the client know If possible, keep them updated with snapshots or a staging site. Be responsible for the information you share, whether its direct client interaction or general social media. Quote modularly, so client’s can understand how their budget is being divided. Offer a commission or reseller program? Keep history clearly documented so payment is fair.  If the project goes sour for whatever reason, propose honest solutions to fix the problem before calling it quits. For WebCakes, transparency isn’t the icing on the cake, it’s the very tray we bake on.

I’ve enjoyed writing up on some of our reflections over the last week; I hope they’ve been informative and inspiring. We have a lot of exciting plans in the near future; projects and software which demonstrate our belief in transparency. Of course, one of them is The Bakery, which is our solution to project management. I promise that we’ll be releasing more information about it soon, but for now I don’t plan on providing spoilers for the other projects. Check back often!

Launch Miniseries Post #4 – Determining Price

One of the most curious challenges in setting up a web-service company is determining your selling prices. It’s not uncommon in Montreal to find a freelancer charging 15-30$ an hour, another freelancer with similar experience charging 70-80$. As an alternative, should you settle on agencies instead, you may find one charging 40-60$ next-door to another firm operating upwards of 150$. What’s going on here?

I don’t want to go down the route of “Montreal is saturated with waves of new, inexperienced web designers who create unrealistically low quotes and create misrepresentation of the web development community as a whole”. The problem may be real, but not the topic of this post. Let’s talk about how you determine a price for your services.

1. Work backwards from your expenses

Take a look at your bank statements last year. How much expense did you incur between groceries, car payments, rent, mortgage, medical visits, birthday presents and dog treats? You should be developing a business model that allows you to live comfortably within these means. Enough so that 1-2 months of hard weather for your business is not completely and utterly devastating. That’s not to say frugality is absolutely required, but if you’re fresh out of school and you find this rate to be upwards of 100$, you may want to rethink your lifestyle.

2. Invest in a business plan software

Doing the above gets complicated when you have extra expenses to consider, such as employees, consultations, software licenses, and the like. The best, most sobering way of calculating the above is to use a business plan software. I recommend using this for any small-medium sized startups. As a company, we use PaloAlto Software The first time I plugged in our own numbers, I realized that we were grossly undervaluing WebCakes and the mission we want to bring to our clients. I stress the importance of being fair with your margins, to your clients and yourself.

3. Use your hourly rate for everything

Don’t get confused by the above – I don’t mean to always charge by hourly rate. There are many situations where that is not feasible to either party. What I’m getting at is pricing your service plans and packages according to your hourly rate. If you offer web services based off features or packages (Something like a Bronze/Silver/Gold/Platinum model), then make sure the prices reflect your hourly rate by approximate development & implementation timeframe. It doesn’t have to be a direct multiplication of these two variables; so long as there’s some referencing your hourly rate within your calculation, anything goes. This practice is useful for determining the efficiency of a given feature in relation to the rest, and can help you decide on what services to market and optimize for the future.

4. Your price is justified to your branding

It starts getting a little more subjective here, but nonetheless the success on communicating your price is determined by your branding. If your marketing slogan looks a little something like “Quick, affordable web solutions”, then don’t be surprised when you find it hard to sell them on a higher bracket. If you’re a freelancer or start up company, and you have some solid work under your belt, brand yourself as an agency, not as a small company. You don’t have to be a 20+ employee firm to provide high-quality work, and your branding should reflect that if you want to aim higher.

5. What’s your worth?

Let’s end on this note: Take a look at your past projects, and give those clients a call to ask how their business is doing. How many sales or leads do they think they’ve gotten from your web strategy? Did you or your company give more than the expected value they paid for? As an example, after James worked on the Habitat for Humanity website, their operational scope increased from just Montreal to the entire province of Quebec. Similar to when I created the first version of the iLOC Technologies website years back – they grew from 3 employees to over 15 employees. If you are bringing more value to the table than what is expected of you, if you’re confident that your skills are benefitting the company in an extraordinary way, by all means quote a little higher. It’s more than justified.