Category Archives: Web Design

Interactive Content is the New Content

What is interactive content? It’s content that engages your users beyond clickable links and calls to action. The 21st century website user demands content that he or she can digest, use and interact with. He or she is selective about which websites he or she engages with, and which websites ultimately get his or her business. While having those important written components on your website are absolutely crucial to pick up Google’s feelers, in order to add that extra “oomph” to your website, you should add some interactive content.

Let’s look at five ways you can add interactive content to your site:

  1. Photos/videos: They may seem so simple, but a good photo gallery of your projects (before, during and after completion) can go a long way. Add calls to action or invite users to submit their own photos of the work you’ve completed for them and you’ll have even more photos to add to your gallery.Videos also play a crucial role in developing interactive content. Use videos to introduce your company to website users, hold a contest (see below), demonstrate case studies, show your business in action or to empower your audience to take action.
  1. Social media: Your company should be have some sort of social media presence. Period. Whether you’re active among all social channels or just dipping your toes into LinkedIn or Google+, make sure you take the time to nurture your accounts and community management. Don’t take the power of social media for granted. On a smaller scale, social media allows you to easily handle issues with customers on a public forum. But you can also use social media to create interactive content. Invite your users to share their experiences with your brand. Ask users for recipes using your product or to submit photos/videos of them interacting with your product. If you’re a service-based industry, ask them to who their favorite person to work with in your office is. No matter what industry, there’s always a way to create interactive content for your users.
  1. Contests: Who doesn’t love to win something free? If your users see you giving away a gift card or product on your site or through social media, they will flock to your contests. This method has been very successful with some of our clients, especially those who give away branded or consumable products. Hold a contest online or through your social media channels asking users to “like” or “comment” or “retweet” your posts and just watch your engagement and brand trust grow.
  1. Challenges: Similar to contests, challenges pose another way to engage your users and to get them involved in your product. One of our clients, Clearwater Systems Ohio, a water softener company, recently held a “Drink More Water Challenge” that was met with great success. Users even took the challenge in a completely unplanned direction by boasting how much water they drank each day—something that wasn’t even written into the contest!
  1. Quizzes: If you’re appealing to the younger generation, a quiz is a perfect way to build brand trust and to interact with users. You can write your quiz to lead users to answers to questions like “Which product am I?” or you can write quizzes that are relevant to your industry, such as the quizzes we wrote for one of our jewelry clients.

Interactive content empowers your users through social media channels or through your website and helps them understand and interact with your brand. It doesn’t matter if you’re a “fun” brand like food or candy or an industrial brand, you can absolutely benefit from interactive content.

Life with Microsoft Edge

Let’s just get this out of the way.  Microsoft cannot make a browser that satisfies everyone.  If you remember a few months ago, I wrote about how the excitement around IE’s demise at the hands of a brand new browser was losing its appeal to me.   At that time a look at the touted new features and work Microsoft had put into IE over the last few years left me feeling ‘meh’ about Edge.

Windows 10 has been out for a little over a month now and as promised, Edge is front and center.  Technically it does what a browser is supposed to do – show you a webpage.  Its rendering feels snappy and its minimal interface falls in line with what other browsers are doing. Actually trying to use it however seems like it is a very 1.0 release to me.   Refinements found in more mature browsers are missing, and in some ways it actually falls short when compared to IE.

Let’s start with my biggest annoyance.  As a web developer, I often times have to copy/paste part of the address for a task. To do this, I simply put my cursor where I want to start, and click.  If I needed “/web-development-portfolio” below, I’d put my cursor at the ‘/’


So, what happens when I do that? Edge suddenly fills in a lot more of the URL and my cursor isn’t where I intended. The start of the highlight below shows where my cursor was after the click.


Next, I rely on “Home” to get me back to some starting pages I need often through the day.   See the address bar image above?  Do you see a home icon? Nope, it’s not there by default.   Granted, you can turn it on under the hidden ‘Advanced Settings’ but it’s pretty well buried for people like my dad so I’ll get the tech support phone call when he finally moves to 10.    Ok, so it’s turned on – you would expect it to take you back to the page or group of pages define in the “Open with” settings, right?   Wrong, you get a single URL option that is different from what you see when you first open the browser.

microsoft3Speaking of the Open With setting, which defines what you see when you start Edge, what a cheap ploy by Microsoft to get traffic to their online properties. MSN and Bing both get top billing for the ‘specific page or pages’ option with a sort of cryptic “Custom” option that allows you to enter a URL 1 at a time for multiple tabs.   I know this labeling of “Custom” will be another phone call from Dad.

Finally, remember Cortana – Microsoft’s digital personal assistant?  As I mentioned last time, it felt like Microsoft knew they had a hit, so they decided to put her into every nook and cranny if it made sense or not.   To find her, you highlight text on a page, right click and choose “Ask Cortana”   Below shows her response to my selection of “CMS” on a certain web development company’s website.   “Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services?   “Food and Drug Administration”?  Thanks, Cortana.

Why isn’t the fact that I’m on, which Bing knows as a web-development website, taken into consideration for Cortana’s response?  I would expect then to see information about “Content Management Systems” which would be helpful in the context of the site I’m currently on.


I tried, really I did, for a week or so to make Edge my default browser.  In the end it just has too many rough edges and no compelling reasons to stick to it.  For now it’s back to the dynamic duo of Google Chrome and Internet Explorer as my browsers of choice.

Mobile Only is Foolish

responsiveHas our industry done enough to convince you that a mobile friendly website is important?

In case we haven’t, it is critical.  Here are a few links to make that point clear:

Mobile Only however is foolish. While it’s critical that users can easily access your website on mobile devices, that doesn’t mean that desktops and tablets are not a substantial part of the equation.  Most of us use one or both of those device types every day.  It’s important to make sure your web presence is professional on all devices, not just phones.

When considering options as it relates to making your site mobile friendly, do it professionally.  Don’t let yourself be tempted by very inexpensive or quick and cheap solutions.  As with anything, if it’s worth doing, it’s worth doing it right.  Remember, this affects how most people will experience your brand for the first time.

Things to avoid when considering mobile site options:

  • Cheap or freeware apps and tools that cannot be customized
  • Tools that interrupt your messaging with their brand i.e.: load screens with the tool’s logo
  • Tools that hide your content behind their domain (
  • Software that looks the same in every application – your brand should stand out

Potential problems caused by low end tools:

  • Branding often limited and inconsistent
  • User experience is poor across multiple device types
  • Content can be hidden from the search engines or associated to other companies. Many of these services also don’t offer you any way to optimize your content or do other marketing-related functions that help make your business successful online.

I understand it’s easy to get excited, want to move fast, and have to go mobile on a limited budget.  Believe me I have seen a lot of products come and go over the years that meet those needs. They go away for a reason.

If you have a solid business that you’re proud of and expect to be around for the long haul, you want to avoid short term mistakes that have long term implications.

Your site needs to be mobile friendly. That is true. But it should also be desktop and tablet friendly.  That’s why professional web designers and developers who understand the big picture leverage responsive design.

Our industry has gotten a bad name with these kinds of foolish apps that make big promises and ultimately cost the consumer. As a digital agency, I believe we have a responsibility to uphold professional standards and look out for the best long-term impact on our clients.

I’d love to hear your thoughts. Give me a call at 330-493-6141.

Why You Shouldn’t Have Too Many Websites

When marketing your business on the Internet, sometimes it may be sensible to offer visitors more than one website. But in most cases, having too many websites can be a detriment to your company.

Over the past two years, we have been asked our opinion concerning having more than one website. Should your company have more than one website? Maybe, but owning numerous websites, we found, can cause lots of challenges.

4-8 years ago: the multiple website mentality 
There was a trend—especially with larger corporations—to create websites for each brand or for every whim that came out of the marketing department. For example, if a company wanted to market a new product or service, the quick plan was to build a website around it.

“It’s new. It needs its own website.” 

The concept seemed solid: let’s create one site that is all about this product or service, and Google will reward us for it. Oh, how times have changed. Today, that just isn’t the case.

Today’s web and business
Google has gotten smarter. The world’s biggest search engine can tell what type of device you are using, not to mention your location, your behaviors, likes and interests as well as the websites that stand the best chance of meeting your needs.

The Internet has changed; so websites need to adapt quickly. Today, your business or organization must have a web presence for everyone. Your audience is on all devices: desktop, tablet and smartphone computers.

Knowing all of this, how are you going to manage a website for each product or service well and manage the information each type of computer user is seeking (e.g. a smartphone user tends to want brief, bullet-point style answers to questions; a desktop user may want to dig deeper into the information, research, etc.)?

In other words, how can you give visitors to your website a great experience so they want to buy from your business?

Answers to the challenges of multiple websites

The following are some reasons why businesses should want fewer websites – perhaps even condense down to one site.

  • Mobile-friendliness – It’s important to create a great web experience for all users, especially smartphone and tablet users. This most likely means redeveloping your website in what’s known as ‘responsive design.’ This is costly and time consuming. Imagine doing this for every site you own!
  • Lower costs – You can save development costs and management time when multiple websites are trimmed down into one good site. Development is less time and money. Hosting is less. SSLs are less. Costs of labor to make changes, additions and updates are less when resources are conserved. Less is less.
  • Easier to manage – I would say one of the greatest expenses of owning a website is the time it takes to add and update pages. And to do it right, you have to dedicate time to manage your website. Otherwise, the site is likely not doing your company much good. Having fewer websites means less time employees will spend logging in, writing and managing text, photos and videos in multiple website admins. It’s much easier to manage all of your company’s content in one location. (Shameless plug alert: You can also save employee time by having us help with writing content, and managing your website – FYI.)
  • Search engine credibility – If more content is on one domain, and Google is getting really good at understanding what a business has to offer (not to mention if visitors to a website are finding what they are seeking), doesn’t it make sense that you might be able to leverage the strength of having more content on one domain to your advantage? If that content is consistently being updated in one place (instead of having many websites with some stagnant content – who can manage all that and do it well?), wouldn’t it appear to Google that your company’s website is well-maintained with fresh, relevant content for visitors? If so, we bet Google would reward that.

There IS a solution!
The web is challenging. Our clients are busy, and most have a website (or more) and multiple social media platforms to manage. The challenge is to let go of what you don’t need. Don’t be afraid to ask yourself the hard questions:

  • Do we need more than one website?
  • Can we have just one good website?
  • Where is my audience on social media? (e.g. Are my customers on Facebook and Twitter or are they on LinkedIn?

If you have multiple websites and are loaded down with doing a lot but not doing a lot well, it may be time to find a better way to market your company.

Let’s get together and talk about your customers and your business goals for growth. Let’s put a strategy together for your website and web marketing.

Don’t Do Anything to Your Website for this One Reason

One would think that Google’s own team of experts would know how its search engine works, right?google

While they probably know how their engineers envision it working, it’s apparent that there are aspects that even these leaders in tech can’t reliably explain.

As you can see from Jon’s post regarding subdomains vs. subdirectories, real world tests don’t play out as Google says they should.

Over the years we’ve seen numerous examples where real world tests don’t always match up with stated outcomes.

Another good example is the flurry over responsive design and how it relates to search engine rankings. Our industry–TKG included–is really good playing into the hysteria. If you’ve followed the industry conversation, you’d think that all websites that are non-responsive would have been removed from Google’s index by now.

The reality is that most sites are not responsive; Google, however, still has to return relevant results to satisfy its users.

Don’t misunderstand me. I believe sites need to be responsive, but for the right reason: because human beings are accessing sites on mobile devices.

We have said for years to our clients, “Don’t do anything to your website just for Google.” If you’re doing it just because Google or your online marketing agency said so then it’s probably not the right move. Make changes to your website because it makes sense for your users and the search engines will have no choice but reward you.

Besides, it’s clear that even Google doesn’t always know how Google works.

How Can a Small Company Compete with the Giants in the World of SEO?

Search marketing has grown in popularity as online search continues to evolve from a novelty to a standard feature in our everyday lives. Almost every business, big or small and regardless of industry, has a web presence, and everybody is competing for a handful of positions at the top of search-engine results pages.competing with giants

Since larger companies already have millions of inbound links, a lengthy history of content, and a recurring base of online visitors, is it any wonder they generally appear in the top ranking positions when people search for commercial products? Regardless of what industry you’re in, you’ll always have at least one competitor who has been around longer and has allocated more budget and resources to building their visibility in the search engines.

So, how can a small company with limited experience and resources compete with that level of online domination?

Thankfully, SEO is no longer about sheer volume. It’s more about which page or website is the most relevant for the searcher.  Thus, there are several strategies that can give a small company the edge over the giant competitor.

  • Specialize in a niche – One of the best things you can do as a small company is give yourself a niche focus. If you pour all your effort into one or a handful of keywords, you’ll be able to achieve a much higher visibility than if you have a wide range of keywords and your relevance for each of them is somewhat low.
  • Leverage locality for optimization – Another way to beat the competition is by targeting a much more local audience. Local search is becoming more relevant and more important, so in today’s context, being the best widget maker in Cleveland is far better than being a so-so widget maker on a national scale. Even if your company does operate on a national, or even international level, you can still capture a niche market share and edge out your competitors in at least one key area by optimizing for a specific local area.
  • Personalize your social engagement – Aside from local search optimization, you can also increase your chances of overcoming larger competitors by stepping up the ‘personal’ factor in your brand strategy. Large companies can lose a portion of their personality once they hit a certain point in their growth, but being small and nimble can be an advantage in giving each follower a more personal experience.
  • Become a recognized content publisher – Building brand awareness, loyalty, trust and credibility requires frequent and quality content publication. Maximize the reach of the content you publish to maximize your return on investment, and be consistent with your publication schedule so you become recognized as a dependable authority.

There’s no shortcut to rise to the top of the search engine rankings, especially when there’s a giant competitor on the scene. But, with a strategy that leverages your geographic location and your agility, you can selectively overcome that giant in specific key areas. Give yourself the best odds by narrowing your topic and keyword focus and increasing your location-specific relevance.

6 Signs It’s Time For a New Site

The speed that technology advances is getting faster and faster. Once you actually get the hang of the phone you have the next model is already out. The internet is no different. From social media to SEO, it is changing daily. Website designs change to comply with the increase in mobile traffic and incorporate social media, content needs to be changed as visitors expect more and more visual content. If you’re wondering if it’s time for a new site here are some key points to take a look at.6 signs

  1. It doesn’t work well on mobile- Many older sites don’t load correctly on mobile devices. It is often hard to read the content or difficult to navigate the site. With around 50% of site visits being on mobile devices this means if a site is not mobile friendly, users get frustrated and a site may lose about half of it’s potential visits/conversions.
  1. It’s slow- Let’s be honest, we love instant gratification. Studies show that a page with a load time of 4 seconds resulted in a 25% drop in traffic. That may seem a little crazy but when it comes to the internet we want and expect it in the blink of an eye.
  1. It’s hard to update content- Content management systems have come a long way over the years. They now make it easy for anyone to go in and change content and keep the information current without needing a whole team to edit code to update.
  1. You’ve outgrown the site you have now- This point is by no means a bad one. If your business has outgrown your site congratulations you’re running a successful company! There are different reasons you may have outgrown it. Maybe you made the original site shortly after startup and have since added more services or products. It may be more difficult to navigate the site with these added items. Or perhaps you’ve changed the image of the company or shifted the primary focus. A revamp of the site to more accurately represent the business is a great plan to continue to grow.
  1. Users aren’t converting- The whole point of having a site for your business is to generate leads or make sales. If your site isn’t getting either of these but is getting decent traffic it may be time to consider a redesign. High bounce rates, short time on site, and low page views are pretty good indicators that the time has come.  There are different reasons why users may not be converting. Poor landing pages with content that doesn’t give users the information they were looking for, a lack of calls to action, or it could simply be because there haven’t been and conversions set up.
  1. No social media- Social media has become a huge part of business. It not only helps generate leads but keeps current customers up to date on what the business is doing. If your site doesn’t have links to the company’s Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc. you’re missing out on a great opportunity to interact with users.

If you’re having any of these issues, or if your site was made in Windows 95, it may be time to ditch it and consider a redesign. If you need some help or have any questions we are more than willing to assist you.

What I’ve Learned at TKG

I have been interning here at TKG for a little over two months. Sometimes it feels like time has flown. With just a few short weeks left I thought now would be a good time to reflect on my time here and what I’ve learned.

what ive learned_edited

With this internship brought many firsts. My first internship, I couldn’t have asked for a better company to intern with. As anyone would be, I was a little nervous to start the job. From day one each and every employee was kind and helpful. It also brought my first look into the industry. We learn all about business in school, but learning isn’t doing. The Karcher Group set a good program for a first time intern to lead me into the world of marketing and web design. Being that all my previous jobs were outdoor labor intensive jobs (such as grounds crew on a golf course) this is my first office job. For those who have worked both types of jobs you know how different they are. There was a period of adjustments and a learning curve.

Since being here I have worked on various projects ranging from social media libraries for clients to assisting in the development of a new site. With these I learned programs to complete the project including content management systems and Google Analytics and have become Google Analytic certified. With each project I find it becomes easier to know exactly what we want the end result to be and how to get there. I’ve also been able to see which parts on the industry I love and which parts maybe not so much.

They say that happy employees are hardworking employees. At The Karcher Group I’ve been able to see how true that really is. There seems to be something going on almost every day. With employees riding scooters through the office, playing foosball, darts, and pool it’s clearly a fun work environment. At a glance it may look like it is all fun and games but employees here play hard and work harder. In fact, each month an employee is elected by fellow employees and awarded the brain award for outstanding work and get to spin for various prizes from gift cards to extra vacation days. This is just one of the ways they show appreciation for the hard work put in by their employees.

As a first time intern I really had no idea what to expect. Going based off the stereotypical intern I thought I would be getting coffee and doing all the stuff around the office no one else wanted to. Within the first week I knew it was anything but a typical internship. I was already being taught programs and tools on the first day and was given projects shortly after. Although I only have a few short weeks left I have really enjoyed my time at TKG and am excited to see what I can learn in my remaining time.

Slow WordPress Site Got You Frustrated?

4 Tricks to Help Speed Up Your WordPress Site

I’ve recently visited a ton of WordPress sites that have taken forever to load and even with the page cached, repeat visits to the site were still slow. There can be many reasons why your WordPress site is slow but I want to cover 4 of what I believe to be the most important things you can do to speed up your WordPress site.

1. Resize and Compress Your Images
Image size can be a huge issue for page load speed on any site so make sure that your images are resized and compressed for web use. With today’s high resolution screens it is tempting to upload high-resolution photos. While this might be necessary in some instances make sure to think about your audience and whether or not having higher resolution photos will likely lead to a conversion.As a starting point make sure that all images are set to 72dpi (dots per inch) and if your image editor has an “export or save for web” function make sure to use that. Doing this will ensure that the image file size is compressed for the web.

2. Install a Lazy Load Plugin
Plugins such as Bj Lazy Load on a basic level allow all non-image based content such as text to be loaded and viewed before all of the images on the page have fully loaded. This ensures that large images on the page are not causing the whole page to load slowly.

3. Check the Performance of Your Plugins
Another common problem with WordPress sites is that 3rd party plugins can slow down the overall page load time. To fix this issue try using a plugin performance profiler. This is a plugin that I like to run periodically on sites to test how long each plugin is taking to load.

If you find a plugin that is running slow try looking for an alternative plugin and try it.  Note that all plugins work differently and if you remove one plugin and install another you may lose content.


This plugin does not need to be left on all of the time so after you have run your test disable the plugin so that it does not slow your site down. Simply re-activate it when you need to run another test.

4. Minimize the Number of Plugins You Use
There are often times when our sites change and we no longer need a plugin or it is a plugin that we only use sometimes. Those plugins should be deleted or deactivated when necessary. Note that removing a plugin could remove site content. For example, if you remove an SEO plugin all of your optimizations will be removed as well.


In the example above you can see that this site at one point wanted to use a Sellfire Affiliate plugin on their site but then decided not to go that route. This plugin should be deleted to help minimize the amount of content that needs to load when a user visits the site.

I hope this article gives you some tricks that you can use to help speed up your WordPress site. If you have any questions or would like to talk to someone about a new website, please contact us.

Fading Excitement over Microsoft’s New Web Browser

My excitement over Microsoft’s new browser, Edge, is rapidly disappearing as more and more details emerge.

Originally billed as a replacement for Internet Explorer, Microsoft introduced some potential (and since removed) confusion when it announced that the browsing experience in Windows 10 would default to the new rendering engine and ‘auto-roll’ over to the IE engine when it detected legacy code. So basically, one browser with two hearts. Fortunately, the masses have convinced Microsoft to make a stand alone browser on the new engine, and leave IE alone to die in piece. Or have they?

I believe the driving factor behind a new browser is simply marketing. You see the IE team really has made drastic improvements to the browser over the last few versions. The problem is, no one cares.  IE’s image is tainted with the horrific days of IE 6,7 and 8, and no amount of work to make 9,10 and 11 ‘modern’ has been able to shed that negative reputation. So what is the answer to win back market share from competitors? A new browser.

Rather than going back to the drawing board and evaluating “today’s web,” Microsoft has taken the heart of IE, the Trident rendering engine, and rebranded it as “EdgeHTML.” Don’t get me wrong, there are improvements to the new browser, but I’d bet those improvements could have been packaged as IE 12.

Microsoft’s marketing for this new browser, Edge, is gimmicky and reminds me of “Web Slices” and “Accelerators” from IE8.  Don’t know what “Web Slices” and “Accelerators” are? That’s because they weren’t useful, and no one adopted them.  From

Accelerators. Accelerators give people easy access to the online services they care about most from any page they visit. Meanwhile, developers gain an easy way to extend the reach of their online services. Accelerators also allow users to browse faster by eliminating most of the clicks required to access desired content and services.
Web Slices. With Web Slices, people can see the information they want to see most often without going away from the page they are on, and developers can mark parts of Web pages as Web Slices and enable users to easily monitor the information they most frequently browse to, all while they move about the Web. Web Slices appear in the Favorites bar, where people can identify updated sites when in bold. From there, they can see a rich Web Slice visualization of their content with easy access back to the source Web page.

The touted features front and center on Microsoft’s new web browser, Edge, are “Inking” and are you ready“Cortana.” Inking is the ability to take notes over the content of a webpage, but seriously, how often have you needed to do this? Then there’s Cortana, Microsoft’s digital assistant, that on my Windows phone, I LOVE.  MS has a hit with Cortana, so in historic fashion, that hit is being crammed into every nook and cranny, whether it fits or not.

My limited tests with Cortana in Windows 10 have left me frustrated and annoyed.  I can only imagine the experience will be similar with Cortana in Edge. Get me to Google and let me find what I need-  that’s it – I don’t need her (Cortana) stepping in to undo years of conditioned habbit.

Still not convinced that Edge is merely IE12 in a different skin? I’ll leave you with this comic pointing out the announcement of the new Edge logo, and the side by side comparison.

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