Thoughts to help you Rise Above

Elevation

The Digital Identity: A Guide to Online Branding, Marketing & Web Design

You may or may not have heard about digital identities, but you probably already intuitively know what makes up one.

What is a Digital Identity?

Think of a digital identity like you would your own real-life identity: it’s a collection of information that represents who you are, in this case, as an online entity.

Whether it’s a company, an organization, a brand or a person, a digital identity encompasses all of the things on the web that add up to who you are, including social media accounts, websites, Wiki information and more.

So why is it important to manage your digital identity? Well, like I said, it’s who you are.

If you’re a growing business, but you don’t have a website, think how that affects your digital identity. If you’re a large corporation, yet your Facebook page is practically inactive, how do you think your identity is impacted?

When you have your digital identity in check, you’re only helping your business in the modern digital age. Read more

How to Easily Create eBooks for Your Small Business Website

At Ascent, we like to help small businesses have the most awesome web presence possible. We particularly focus on the art of conversion optimization – maximizing a site’s ability to capture new leads that will help a business grow. We often recommend that small businesses try new tactics to provide value to their visitors while beginning to build a relationship with them. One way to do so, is to leverage your business’s unique expertise by offering an eBook for download – in exchange for an email address, of course, that can be used in your email marketing & marketing automation outreach. Read more

Best Practices for Website Carousel Sliders and Slideshows

Web design trends are constantly evolving, and as trends come & go, true best practices begin to emerge. For eons, using a slideshow/carousel as the main focal point of your site’s homepage was The Thing To Do. It has been accepted almost as a given, must-have element in the design process, as if on the web design 10 Commandments, “Thou Shalt Have Thee A Homepage Slider” was #2 on the list, sitting right after “Thou Shalt Place Thine Logo in the Upper Left” and before “Thou Shalt Not Use Comic Sans, for it is an Abomination Before the Lord.”

But the times, they are a-changing, and forward thinking, user-experience-focused geniuses like ourselves are starting to advise our clients to think twice about using one of the longest-standing, time-honored  page elements in web design history: the Holy Homepage Slider. Read more

7 Free & Essential WordPress Plugins for Small Business Websites

You may already have a small business website, or you may be looking to get one redesigned (if so, we can help!). If the site you currently own runs on WordPress, or if you’re looking to move your website to a WordPress-based one, then you should know about plugins.

What are WordPress Plugins?

Simply put, a WordPress plugin is a sort of software that can be added to a WordPress website, which will then execute certain functions to extend functionality or add new features to your WordPress-based website.

Why Do I Need To Use WordPress Plugins?

Synthesis summarizes the answer to this question nicely by noting, “The key to effective use of plugins is to deploy them only from properly vetted sources, and only when necessary. Plugins should solve a specific problem or provide an essential function. They should not indulge our vanity or our desire for a “shiny new object”.”

So, it’s best to get plugins that handle large, complicated tasks, as opposed to simpler ones that will just clog up your storage space and bandwidth (therefore, slowing down your site).

That being said, we have for you seven must-have plugins for your small business website and why you should get them. Read more

Don’t Send in the Clowns (Tips to Help You Avoid Sketchy Web Design Companies)

So you’re a small or mid-size business owner or marketing director and the challenging task of choosing a web design agency lies before you. Choose right and you’re in for a smooth, budget-friendly, exciting process that will help take your business to the next level. Choose wrong, and you’re in for a whole big world of hurt!

And the sheer number of agencies out there can make an already difficult task feel overwhelming – especially if you’re in the NJ & NY Metro area like we are. How do you know you’re talking to the right people? Well as a public service, we at Ascent would like to give you some pointers that we’ve picked up through long careers of witnessing bad things happen to good people.

Here are some of our favorite red flags to help you identify and avoid clown web design companies: Read more

Online Marketing Automation for Small Businesses: What It Is, & Why You Should Dive In

Most small business owners we’ve spoken to around NJ & the Lehigh Valley are pretty savvy when it comes to the web & how technology can be used to drive growth in your business. Most of you know about Google Analytics, many of you have accounts with Email Service Providers such as Mailchimp or Constant Contact, and some of you even use CRM systems to help track leads. Many of you also spend some significant money on PPC campaigns or SEO services.

But unfortunately, many of you would also confess that you’re not exactly thrilled with the return on investment those initiatives generate. You’re doing all the “Right Things,” but not seeing the right results.

How do you turn the tide and generate true success and lasting ROI from your online marketing efforts? By integrating with a marketing automation solution. Read more

Developing Small Business Websites in WordPress: Why we picked the winner of the popularity contest

cms-market-share

Courtesy of Opensourcecms.com

Check out the graph on above, which tells us what something we @ Ascent already knew: WordPress is dominating at Chuck Norris-like levels.

And it just so a happens that Ascent chooses to specialize in custom WordPress development (primarily for small businesses in the NJ/NY Metro area). We didn’t choose WordPress because of its popularity – we chose it because in our arrogant humble opinions, it is by far the best CMS platform on the market, and can give your business the best possible ROI from your website & online marketing.

Here are a few reasons why the popularity of WordPress benefits your business: Read more

Creating A WordPress-Powered Customer Portal Website

Many small businesses (and their customers) would benefit from evolving their website from a one-way informative/brochure presence to a more robust, interactive customer service engine. The idea of a customer portal feature on a site is appealing – but the thought of implementing one can also feel daunting.

Businesses on the road to building an effective customer portal on their website are prone to 2 major potential wrong turns: either (a) choosing an off-the-shelf solution that is costly, hard to use, and too generic to meet their needs, or (b) opting for an extremely expensive completely custom solution.

Get a powerful, feature-packed, customizable WordPress customer portal starting from $500/year


Check out the Demo!

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Got questions?

But we know a better way: semi-custom CMS-driven customer portals built on a foundation of our hero, WordPress. Are you thinking WordPress is just a blogging tool for people with too much time on their hands? Or a nice little website builder that can’t do any heavy lifting?

Think again. We have used WordPress as the backbone of powerful custom portals, saving clients migraines and thousands of dollars in the process. Read more

Should Your Small Business Website Use a Responsive Design? 4 Reasons Why… Maybe Not.

You might not hear this from anyone else, but your small business might not need a responsive web design.
Don’t get us wrong. We love responsive design (though in a future post, we’ll dig into why it doesn’t go nearly far enough!). But we’re not… in love with it. We don’t drink the kool-aid and we don’t push it on every client. If it makes sense for your business, we’ll always recommend it. But we put your unique business landscape – and most importantly, the needs of your customers – above all when we make recommendations. We have no responsive design agenda.

Most web designers will tell you that you’ve gotta have it, and will pad out their estimates accordingly, because the simple truth is that a responsive design will always cost more (usually a lot more!). But here are a few reasons you should consider bucking the trend, not hopping the bandwagon, & not buying into the Responsive Web Design craze. You should not use a responsive web design for your NJ business if: Read more

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