Bear Blog

Bear Blog features our Webmaster’s Blog & Our Designer Street Blog.

Webmaster’s Blog is for business owners, marketing managers, webmasters & web content managers that are all aiming to gain a greater understanding of the internet and how it can be applied to their business.

Designer Street blog is where design meets functionality with expert commentary by the Bear Web Design Design and Development Team who have produced over 400 custom websites.

Do You Have A Webmaster?

Do you have a Webmaster?

With modern websites becoming more and more sophisticated in both look and behavior the expectation that a standard web hosting company will take care of everything your website needs is simply not correct.  The game plan of hiring a web designer that builds a new website and then moves it to a hosting company to sit indefinitely is no longer a viable plan for you or your website.

Why? Because websites require a lot more attention to keep them running securely and optimally than they did in the past.

The content management systems that dominate the web today – WordPress, Joomla & Drupal are living and breathing systems – not static systems that once installed can sit for any reasonable period of time without any additional care and maintenance.

Secondly – Your Website is made up of core engines and many additional plugins including some that are licensed. They ALL have to managed, maintained and renewed.

Today website updates are released “continuously” and they are always critical to security and functionality. When you have a website that is not being managed the website will become less secure and less functional. The worse case being when your website has “paid for” licenses for plugins that make the website look and feel great and those licenses expire. (usually a year after your new website was designed). Who is responsible for these now? Your hosting company or the web designer?

What else does a Webmaster do?

Most good websites will always have new content being added or updated and that is another consideration for a website owner. To have a partner that not only knows how to update your website but also understands the layout & design and has a good understanding about you and your business is invaluable.  Who is going to manage your content and/or help you when you want to manage your content? Who can also provide you with training? The answer is simple one – A Webmaster!

Web Hosting companies simply are not setup to help you manage your content (they don’t even have access to your site’s administration) and if your previous designer is no longer in the picture then your website can really end up in no man’s land (as in no one is responsible for your website)…

What else can a Webmaster do for me?

  • Help manage your e-Mail accounts
  • Help manage your annual domain renewals
  • Help manage your annual secure server certificate
  • Help manage website & plugin annual license renewals
  • Help optimize website including SEO, Website load and image optimization
  • Help review your google analytics and analyze web traffic
  • Help manage your content including text, images & multimedia
  • Provide you with custom training session or a website review meeting
  • Help you with landing pages and e-NEWS marketing campaign
  • Help assist you with marketing social media pages such as Google My Business?
  • Provider additional design, development & marketing services when needed
  • Provide immediate support via project/support Helpdesk that includes e-mail & phone support

Bear Web Design Can Help!

We have been helping our clients manage their websites since we built our very first website nearly 20 years ago. It is something we are very good at and it provides our clients with great value having a webmaster as part of their team. If you have a website that is currently sitting with a hosting company but not being actively managed by a webmaster then we would like to hear form you and see if we can become your webmaster.

Please contact us here to tell us about your website or call us at 615 504-6845


WordPress Gutenberg & The Classic Editor

The new block editor, also known as Gutenberg, stands to change the way you create and update content on your WordPress site.

It’s likely you have experienced the classic WordPress editor. You might use it to post a blog, for instance. It’s also likely that you had to look up how to complete complex tasks like style changes, adding buttons or changing the background color. (You may have also asked your friendly agency for assistance.)

Gutenberg simplifies the process by giving each type of content properties, features, and abilities, which can be customized to create exacting results: drag blocks up and down to rearrange their position; add a quote block between paragraphs with a click; change the alignment and width of an element in the sidebar. The list goes on.

There are varying reasons you or someone on your team may want to continue

using the classic editor. You may need more time to learn the new editor, use a custom post type that interferes with Gutenberg, or use a tool like YooTheme, Divi or Beaver Builder. The Classic Editor plugin (created and maintained by the WordPress core team) allows you to disable the new editor OR toggle between the Classic editor and Gutenberg! Simply install and activate the Classic Editor plugin, hover over settings on the dashboard of your site and click “writing”, then click “allow users to switch editors” and save. Now you have the option with posts and pages to use the Classic Editor or the Gutenberg Editor, whichever works best for you!

CAUTION: If you activate Gutenberg or Classic editors on pages built with other builders you risk erasing your work or changing your formatting. If you use one of many popular and powerful builders, definitely continue using these tools for content updates.

While the Classic Editor plugin will enjoy support into 2022, Gutenberg now ships with core, so do check it out, it’s the future of content creation! (And it’s REALLY cool!)


Web Accessibility

We all visit websites for similar reasons regardless of the technology we use to interact with it. A person who is visually impaired will use a bank’s website to pay a bill with the same intent as someone who doesn’t use assistive technology. A person using their mobile device requires the same functionality of someone using their desktop. Just as a good site design will have considered the requirements of different screens, good site design needs to consider a variety of users’ needs and accessibility issues.

We were at WordCamp Atlanta recently and attended a talk about the inherent challenges of using accessibility tools and understanding how to make user experiences better regardless of ability.

Consider navigation. Large, complex menus can be daunting to navigate without a mouse. A visitor will have to click through your menu every time she navigates to a new page.  A better experience allows users to skip links with assistive technology as they prefer and improve the experience of the site. This is important for more than altruistic reasons. Users who can engage with your content are more likely to use your content. Sites that are usable are visited, the ultimate reason for creating a website in the first place.

In Atlanta, we learned about two great tools and the WPAccessibility plugin, we can use to add a variety of accessibility features with a minimum of setup. We can include these tools in all new projects and use them to help remediate existing sites.

Users with varying abilities are more similar than we think and websites with good designs will consider every user from the beginning. Keeping every user, regardless of ability, in mind when designing and developing a website improves usability for every user.



You Now Have 2 Primary Digital Assets!

Just about every company and organization today has a website. Pending how long you have been in business you may have had a company website for 10 plus years. That website has probably been thru several redesigns and upgrades while remaining a constant primary marketing tool and/or e-commerce vehicle for your company.

Today’s websites are vibrant & colorful, content rich and action driven as well as mobile responsive. Just about every client’s website we manage and host (around 125 websites today) has seen a minimum of 10% traffic growth each year. If the company invests resources in the website such as blogs and social media marketing those traffic increases can be a lot higher. And the best part about your website is that you own it and you have full control and it is a tremendous asset to your business.

Over the last 12-24 months a new digital asset for your company has been quietly falling into place and it is already having a tremendous impact on most of our clients. The product is called Google My Business (GMB) and it is basically part of your primary digital profile that you see when you google your company name (on the left is website and social media links and google my business is to the right).  By modest estimates the traffic that goes to your Google My Business (GMB) page is approximately 5-10 times the amount of traffic your website received. And the numbers for some of our clients are in the thousands.  So if your website receives 1,000 visitors then it is possible that your Google My Business page could receive 10,000 visitors (that’s right – lots and lots of potential customer traffic).

The way this works is when a person searches google for a company, product or service your GMB page may come up as one the options a searcher can choose to visit.  Your GBM page has the following features to help entice a searching prospect to your business when they land on your GMB page:

  • Photos & Videos of your business (Including Business Location)
  • Map Location including directions to your office
  • Hours of operation including a clarification that “You Business is Open or Closed”
  • Google Reviews of your business
  • Business Address including phone number (used often with mobile devices)
  • Link to Website
  • Introduction to your business
  • Google Posts (stories or events you can post about your business)

When you consider the amount of traffic that is landing on your GMB page it is now imperative that your Google My Business Page looks great and is absolute accurate with information. Between 2017-2018 Bear Web Design commenced managing our Clients Google My Business Pages. This ranged from claiming the GMB pages and basic level management (setup, updates and monitoring) to full blown execution of marketing plans that included periodical google posts and photo and content updates as well as traffic reporting.

In 2019 we will continue to provide these management services for Google My Business that are now having such a big impact on our clients. Google continually improves this product and we have no doubt that trend will continue for many years to come and we are committed to being experts in managing this area for our clients!

Be sure to contact Bear Web Design if you have any questions about your Google My Business and of course if you need some help!


Need Help with WordPress?

Have you heard about WordPress? You may be considering it for your new website. You may need a website; you know how important it is, you just “don’t have the time”.

What is WordPress and how can it help you?

WordPress is a dynamic, world-class Content Management System (CMS) versatile enough to handle personal blogs, complex e-commerce shops, mobile applications, beautiful portfolios and more with outstanding ease of use and learnability.

WordPress powers about 30% of the top 10 Million websites – think and

What does this mean for you? Because of its popularity, WordPress works hard to continuously improve its product. It’s responsive. It has built-in GDPR compliance tools. It is constantly making content management more intuitive even while improving web accessibility by focusing on removing accessibility barriers for people with disabilities.

WP helps you manage your media library by automatically resizing images and preparing them for use in different applications. This means that with minimal preparation on your part your images will always look good and your customers won’t have to wait on the site to load an oversized image.The results? Improved SEO and user experience. And who doesn’t need to improve their Search Engine Results?

The range of options available via thousands of plugins, themes, widgets and various media applications for different functionalities and looks for your website is unlimited.

Here are a few examples of some of the recent work Bear Web Design has done in WordPress:

So, do you need help with your WordPress site? Do you need a new WordPress site? The Bear Team is easy to work with and we have creative ideas and knowledge to help your ideas reach fruition. We also offer custom training to help you understand and use your new website. Contact us today!


What is GDPR?

The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is a legal framework that sets guidelines for the collection and processing of personal information of individuals within the European Union (EU). … GDPR came into effect across the EU on May 25, 2018.

So as a result companies from Europe regardless of where they are doing business have been updating their Privacy Policies and Data Collection policies in order to meet these guidelines.  We have received lots of updates from Joomla and WordPress Extensions in the last few weeks clarifying their changes and compliancy which is a good thing because it means your website is now using software that complies with GDPR…

So how does this affect us here in the USA?

Well you may be in the USA but your website is accessible world wide. That means folks from the European Union can visit your website, send you inquiries or purchase products off your website. And the new GDPR guidelines states that if the person visiting your website is in the European Union when they are visiting your website then they are covered by this regulation for general inquiry and data collection.  There must be some form of solicitation by the company to European Citizens (in other words enticing EU visitors to provide their information for a specific marketing purpose).

The GDPR guideline also states that ANY collection of financial transaction information is covered and protected by the GDPR regulation so any company selling product worldwide is most likely affected by these new laws.

A good outcome identified to me by wife Vicki who just returned from Europe recently was the speed of websites loading  are actually improved by these new laws. When you visit a website and they are bombarding you with visitor tracking software the websites load much slower. Now with the GDPR guidelines websites have less visitor tracking software and thus load quicker!

So basically GDPR provides better privacy for website visitors and faster websites – that sounds like a pretty good deal to me!

US companies that will be most affected by these new regulations are U.S.-based hospitality, travel, software services and e-commerce companies will certainly have to take a closer look at their online marketing practices. However, any U.S. company that has identified a market in an EU country and has localized web content should consider reviewing their web operations and what they do with visitor data.

For any company that would like to review your current privacy statements and privacy guidelines be sure to contact me and we can review your specific setup to make sure you are compliant and in good shape with GDPR.


Managing Your Website

A company can spend a lot of money, time and resources developing a new website. It is an exciting time filled with great expectations as the internet provides a constant supply of users searching for products and services and a great looking website can really help attract customers. It is easy to think that if you get everything right during this design and development phase you are going to be all set in upcoming years.

Unfortunately, that is not the case today as websites are far more complex than just an electronic marketing brochure that tells a company story or a marketing campaign at a specific point in time.  Most websites today are Content Management Systems which are a class of website that allows the content to be updated by both the owner and or their respective webmaster.  This means your website really needs to be built in mind of telling many stories and having many marketing campaigns that may come along during the websites existence… quite often 3-5 years.

The management of your website has become more complex simply by the nature of the internet and these intelligent content management systems. What are the best practices?

Maintenance & Hosting Support

The first and foremost form of website management is the boring stuff… upgrading your website when new editions that are released including core updates as well as extensions and components that make up your website. These upgrades are usually related to security, functionality and occasionally enhancement. Keep in mind that a host provider such as GoDaddy does NOT provide these services and the biggest issues you will encounter when you don’t upgrade your website is the potential of being hacked or something stops working.

Web Content Management

After overseeing around 350 website developments we have learnt that establishing a client’s ability to manage their website is critical.  So here are 3 great questions for an owner of a website?

  • Do you have writing skills and or photography skills that can contribute to the website?
  • Can you use Social Media and if so what is your favorite Social Media App?
  • Can you or your staff dedicate time to learn how to use your website and update it?

The last question is not as important as the first two in my opinion. Mechanically updating the website is about learning how to use a CMS system… e.g. Joomla or WordPress. That takes time and is very dependent on usage. If you update your website once a year then you most likely will never master the CMS and most likely should have the help of a Website Management Company… (NOTE –  again this is not a web hosting company that simply provides a physical space for your website)

Blogging Is Still King Of Content

If you can tell a story and if you write well and can take great photos then you most likely possess a critical ingredient that your website will always need… FRESH CONTENT!

The absolute best content you can provide your website is Blog…. pure and simple. Google loves fresh & frequent content and it will reward you with new prospects and repeat client visits.

A relevant topic that is written by you or your staff that contanis knowledge, information and you or your company’s personality wrapped up in 3-4 great paragraphs is all you need. We have several clients that do a great job but there is none better than Russell Berry of The Travel Factory in Abilene Texas. Russell has been blogging on his website since its inception in 2012.  We are now at 256 blogs with a new blog coming each week… check out some of Russell’s great work below!

This work has basically established a website that increases it traffic by around 1000 visitors a year (every year) and when you combine Google My Business which has more than doubled the website traffic and throw in Facebook as the social media and you have a tremendously sustainable website with a great internet marketing game plan!  Using the blog as your primary post in Google Posts and Facebook creates great opportunity for prospect and customer conversation!

Updating the Website Is Easy – Producing Great Content is Hard!

We work with Russell each week to publish the blog which includes adding a Royalty Free Photo, Adding Tags to the Blog, sharing the blog with Google Posts and Facebook. All up our time is 15-30 minutes each week pending on the actual Blog that we are polishing up and publishing – basically a mechanical process.

But let’s be honest Russell’s ability to produce the content for his business is PRICELESS!

I often hear website owners say I can’t update my website as it is to hard to do but that should NEVER stop you having great content on your website. (producing content is hard to do!). Answering those three key questions above should help ensure successful website management with a sustainable plan.

SO keep in mind that working with a company that can provide Website Management Services for those that need it as well as Content Management Training Classes for those who can allocate the time to update their website is certainly worthwhile establishing!

Be sure to contact me if you would like to review or discuss your website management!


Social Media Stream Gives Your Website The Power!

Social Media has become a dominant force in our world ranging from personal socialization to business marketing.  Over the past 5 years or so businesses have been putting more and more effort and resources into using social media in the aim of building their brands and marketing their products and services.  It has clearly been a revolution to be able to add a great photo and a small paragraph or two and be able to share with your friends and fans reaching 100’s or sometime 1000’s of people in real time.

With all the work companies spend on social media the one the area that does not generally benefit from social media posts is the owner’s own website. Quite often the website will link their visitors to their active social media pages or you share a widget with a latest post and links. Generally, the traffic from your website to social media is one way. The problem is once a client or prospects gets to social media you no longer have control of that session. Social Media can bombard visitors with advertising and other non-related information distracting them from your mission while social media policies can also be changed at any time greatly effecting the users experience.

So what If we could maximize the content you are producing in all your social media accounts and then share each post back to your website in a permanent stream?

Introducing Social Media Stream!

We have just commenced implement Social Media Streams to our client’s website (works in both Joomla and WordPress).  There are many benefits to the social media stream on your website but here are key ones:

  • All your website visitors get to see all your posts not just what social media allows or boosts.
  • The social post opens a new page for readership but does not end your website session.
  • The social media stream looks amazing on desktop as well as your mobile device.
  • Supports Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Youtube, Pintrest, Vimeo and more
  • The showcasing of all social media’s makes you company look like a marketing machine!

Social Media Stream On Mobile Device

Also you can check out our first two clients to have the social media stream setup – and – in both cases that stream is at the bottom of the home page.

Setting up social media stream on your website takes around 4 hours and a small annual licensing fee.

So if you are ready for Social Media Stream to give your website the power contact Bear Web Design today 615 504-6845 or send us an Inquiry!


Girls That Code Visit Bear Web Design!

Girls that Code from Wilson County visited Bear Web Design in Nashville today to learn about the opportunities for programmers & developers in the 21st century! The girls are taught programming by web designer/developer Jennifer Folsom and were treated to pizza after their visit.

Peter Beare presents to Girls that Code Opportunities for Programmers Developers in the 21st Century

The girls learnt about the history and types of programming languages (dating back to the 1960’s) and then looked at examples of how each language type is used today. They also had an overview of my programming background including my Degree in Computer Science from M.T.S.U. and the languages that I studied as an example of what type of degree they might seek to become a programmer including the amount of languages they may have to study. We also discussed work environments that have changed drastically in recent times. The girls seem to enjoy the idea that you can do your work from anywhere so long as you can get to the interent!

To finish our presentatioon we reviewed Web Design & Development and the languages used in that arena including Mobile Apps which finished off a lively presentation and discussion. Vicki Beare who was our founding designer and developer was on hand to provide some valuable input to the girls as was our current designer and developer Jennifer Folsom. To finish off the visit Bear Web Design treated all the girls to Pizza at PizzeReal Restaurant in East Nashville.

Girls that Code celebrate with Pizza after visiting with Bear Web Design

It was a great experience visiting with the Girls that Code from Wilson County today and we wish the girls all the best in their upcoming endevours as they aspire to become programmers and developers in this exciting and dynamic industry!


How Does Your Digital Profile Look?

Have you recently heard the term “Digital Profile”? it is becoming a key focus area for companies as well as individuals that provide services that are searched for on the internet. That means just about any company that operates today should be paying attention to their Digital Profile.

A Digital Profile as it sounds is a profile that has been establish online through your internet resources and usage.  Google is the best place I know of to check out your digital profile to get a feel for what people will see when they type your companies name.

Thanks to Google My Business (formerly Google+) we have really seen the development of the Digital Profile over the last 12-24 months. Google My Business includes Google Reviews, Google Maps & Directions, Google Search Results, hours of business, photos as well as links to your website. On mobile it is as powerful as it appears on a desktop and it can heavily influence whether a customer communicates with your company directly from google (e.g. calls you) or links to your website for further information.

So using Bear Web Design’s Digital Profile as a starting example lets look at some of the basic elements… (see our Digital Profile above)…

  1. Google Ad Words and Organic Information sit on the left hand side of the search page result. Adwords are an online advertising services by Googler where advertisters pay to display ads that are tied to key search terms and phrases. Organic search results are website listings on search engine results pages that appear because of their relevance to the search terms.
  2. Google My Business sits on the right hand side and consists of photos, address & location, directions, website link, reviews, business hours (absolutely critical to being correct) and links for action – phone number to call, driving directions to come visit and website link to learn more about your business.
  3. Notice the Google Post that is under Google My Business (this is a new featured offered by Google allowing business owners to feed their content directly into their search results page! Google Posts will stay active for 7 days and I have seen some posts that receive 1000’s of views.
  1. Google Insights which shows you how many searches that your Google Digital Profile appears in including (Discovery) – those searching for your services or products but don’t know you directly and (Direct) – those that do search for you directly.

So if you haven’t checked out your Digital Profile it is definitely time to do so. It will be a critical part of your online success! And if you need some help managing and updating your digital profile please be sure to contact Bear Web Design!

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Bear Web Design
2622 Bluefield Avenue
Nashville, TN 37214
(615) 504-6845

Bear Web Design - Web Design Agency | 2622 Bluefield Avenue | Nashville, TN 37214 - (615) 504-6845

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