Content Management Systems


Content Management Systems

In order to get people to find you, you have to make friends with the search engines.  In order to make friends with the search engines, you have to have fresh, relevant content that the algorithms find valuable enough to shoot you to the top of their results pages.

Once upon a time, when you wanted to update web content, you would have had to either know how to write code or pay someone who did.  These expensive and tedious hoops lead to a significant amount of stale content in cyberspace, which did no good for anyone.

Oh, how times have changed!  With blogs and new products constantly freshening up the Brand Strategyinternet’s offerings, developers went to work creating the tool now known as the content management system (also commonly referred to as a CMS).

Thanks to the ingenious minds that came together to embark on the creation of the content management system, you are now free to alter your pages and update your content as you see fit.  Each content management system that we use here at OTR will incorporate features that will enhance your experience as you navigate your way through your website.

These systems provide you with a way to securely and safely access your website from anywhere with internet access, and you can easily alter the design without needing any knowledge of coding.  You’ll have the ability to archive and retrieve prior versions after revisions, in case your newest update isn’t exactly what you’re looking for.

The goal is easy usability — a place where your team and ours can come together to store your content in a version-controlled environment with pre-built features incorporated around your specific business needs.  After all, captivating content should always be stored for safe-keeping.

At OTR, we work with you to understand where your business is now so we can choose the right content management system to get you where you want to go.  Our Web Content Team is standing by and ready to strategize with your key people to make remarkable messages appear on your pages.  Ready to learn more?

Ian Conklin is the President of OTR Web, a web development company creating market ready websites since 2000, with locations in Canada, USA, Europe and South America.

Ian Conklin - President OTR Web

OTR Web is a Certified Partner with HubSpot and Google.

For all your Inbound Marketing and Website requirements

Contact OTR Web.


Ten Characteristics Of Cloud Computing


Ten Characteristics Of Cloud Computing

Using software in “The cloud” has become very popular in the past few years, making it far easier for teams to collaborate on projects, and share data with other people and programs. These 10 characteristics of cloud computing show why it has become so popular, and how its adoption will continue to grow over time.

1. Easy Access

Cloud based applications and files can be accessed easily on your company’s network, whether you or your employees are in the office, at home, or traveling.

2. Enhanced Productivity

With the ability to pull data from anywhere within your company’s cloud, your employees will be able to work faster without needing to either physically get the files, or wait on an email response back for a file.

3. Data Security

Since there is only one place where all the data is stored, it is much easier to protect it Cloud Computingagainst a security breach. Cloud computing takes away most of the threat of data theft due to information being spread out among multiple computers.

4. Reduced Cost

For the most part, cloud based applications only need to be purchased once, and are then distributed among users accessing the front-facing platform through the cloud. There is no need to buy multiple licenses for the same program for every one of your employees.

5. High Growth Potential

As you add more employees, all that needs to be done to get them on the cloud is for them to have login credentials created. Less setup time, and much faster than installing software on a machine.

6. Real-Time Data Changes

As changes are made to files in the cloud, other people can have access to those changes immediately. Employees no longer need to re-download files in order to have the most up to date version.

7. Device Operability

Some cloud-based networks are accessible from smartphones and tablets. This is convenient for people not in the office, but who still need to maintain connectivity to the network.

8. Easily Monitored Performance

Seeing changes made to data, and seeing who makes the changes, makes it easy to monitor employee performance. This can be done easily at the end of the day, or even in real time.

9. Open Communication Among Collaborators

The ability to communicate easily among employees working on one project is essential. Cloud computing makes this simple with the ability to either message another collaborator, or just change the data as they see fit.

10. Reduced Maintenance

Fewer software-based problems will come up with a cloud based system. Employee computers are basically just terminals which access the cloud, meaning if a computer were to become inoperable, it could easily be replaced.

Ian Conklin is the President of OTR Web Solutions a web development company building marketing websites since 2000 with offices in Canada, USA, Europe and South America.

Ian Conklin - President OTR Web

OTR Web is a Certified Partner with HubSpot and Google.

For all your Inbound Marketing and Website requirements

Contact OTR Web.


Data Collection and Audience Measurement


Data Collection and Audience Measurement

One of the things that makes content marketing more scientific than traditional marketing is the fact that it provides a mountain of data. Most of this data can be obtained at low to no cost. Google Analytics is one of the best tracking platforms for your online efforts to find out how well your content attracts traffic. Various other tracking services can help you gauge your performance. Studying this data will help you determine your strengths and weaknesses at content marketing.

Google Analytics

There are many different services that offer audience measurement for websites, but Google Analytics isHands hold tablet PC with graphs by far the most popular and it’s well respected due to its comprehensive detail. Analytics tell you how much traffic you’re getting, where it comes from and how visitors behave on your site. The research is designed for marketers and is divided into free and premium services. The basic free package tells you how many visits your site got in a given day, week or month, along with average session time and bounce rate, which reveals the percentage of visitors who exit the site after viewing one page.

One of the helpful indicators that Google Analytics provides is how users found your websites. Referrers such as search engines, social networks and websites are listed as sources that brought you traffic. You can use this information to share with referrers to let them know they provide you value. Another use of Analytics is finding out which geographic locations bring you the most traffic, which can help you determine if your branding messages need to be more universal or focused on certain regions. The main limitation of Google Analytics is that users can disable cookies in their browsers, which blocks data collection on how they use your site.


You can help improve your conversion rate by analyzing why people leave your site with Crazy Egg heat maps. The software shows you specific locations on web pages that visitors clicked before exiting. A scroll map shows how far visitors scrolled on pages, which helps you determine which parts of pages are most and least effective at holding people’s attention. The Confetti tool within the software helps you learn search terms that were used by people to find your site.

Alexa and Quantcast

Two audience measurement sites that can teach you a lot about web popularity are Alexa and Quantcast. Both sites rank millions of websites, using separate methodologies to measure web traffic. Unlike ComScore and Nielsen, Alexa and Quantcast publish their rankings for the public. You can even use them for free to find out how your website compares with competitors in traffic rankings. If you sign up for either service and paste their code on your web pages you can get much more detailed statistics.

Alexa, owned by Amazon, tells you how your site ranks globally as well as in the United States. If your site gets enough traffic it will tell you other interesting information, such as bounce rate, daily pageviews per visitor, daily time on site and heat maps for gender, education level, browsing location (home, school, work) and visitors by country. It will also tell you the percentage of visits that originated from search engines and the top keywords used from search engines. It will also give your site an SEO score on a 0-100 point scale.

Quantcast is useful for looking at income levels and other demographics of your users. Both sites provide much more information if you subscribe.Take the lead in content marketing by utilizing website Analytics, which will help fine tune your understanding of your audience.

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Ian Conklin is the President of OTR Web Solutions a web development company building marketing websites since 2000 with offices in Canada, USA, Europe and South America.

Ian Conklin - President OTR Web

OTR Web is a Partner with HubSpot.

For all your Inbound Marketing and Website requirements

Contact OTR Web.


SMB Web Design


SMB Web Design

Many business websites were designed with no purpose other than existence. However, the evolution of marketing and the Internet has transformed the business website into lead, traffic, and sales generating a multi-functioning marketing tool. The undeniable benefits of a well-designed site has caused several business owners to ponder over which provider can deliver the best product for the best price in the least amount of time as possible.     

With three apparent options, business owners may employ the shade-tree web designer, who also doubles as a nephew that creates pages from his bedroom after school. After the nephew, they can choose either a do-it-yourself website builder or enlist the services of a the professional web design company. In either case, you must take the lead and ensure your website meets your expectations and produces the desired results.

Take the Lead by Understanding These Terms in Web Design

Inbound marketing is the notion of attracting customers to your site by providing the information that users are searching for. The most effective inbound strategies are developed and incorporated into the fibers of the web page.

Copywriting refers to all of the text that appears as content on the page.

Search engine optimization (SEO) is all about making your website more visible onwebsite elements a search engine results page. As one of the primary objections of any web site, getting seen is directly correlated to high revenue. The most effective SEO campaigns are the result of being interwoven into the creation of the website.

Search engine friendly refers to the ease that search engine crawlers are able to index and find your page.

HTML5 code is the new Internet language that offers an impending focus on multimedia without the need for plugins. HTML5 was developed to allow low-powered devices like smartphones to run heavy content. Additionally, it allows for the development of universal or cross-platform mobile apps. Overall, HTML5 offers significantly more control over the design of your page.

Cascading Style Sheets 3 (CSS3) is responsible for the style and design of the page. CSS3 bolsters the capabilities of a web designer with enhanced aesthetic appeal and functionality on the website.

The Nephew or Friend of a Friend

While your nephew may offer the most cost-effective method for website creation,
it is highly doubtable that your nephew will be able to create the functionality that is required. With the amazing growth of HTML5, newer and more appealing features are consistently being created. If your nephew is not familiar with the newer code, your site will quickly begin to look old compared to the other sites that use HTML5. In addition to having to develop your own web content (rather than making use of professional copywriters), your nephew will in all likelihood completely negate the importance of intertwining SEO and inbound marketing into the core of the website.

Take the Lead with a Do-it-Yourself Website Builder

DIY site builders are excellent for start-ups and entrepreneurs who want to get their website online quickly and then perfect the site along the way. With a  template website, your page won’t break the bank or consume too much of your time. The all inclusive DIY website builder removes the coding process from website design and replaces it with the benefits of drop-and-drag. To begin, you simply choose a template and personalize it with your own tweaks and changes until it looks how you envisioned. DIY website builders also allow you to choose your domain name, work at your own pace, and web hosting is included with the DIY builder. Many DIY builders can generate a mobile-friendly version for smartphones.

There are however pitfalls. One of the major downsides of DIY website builders is the lack of customization in creating a website that reflects your corporate brand. Instead, the DIY website builder offers templates, which can leave a generic impression on visitors. As for SEO, you are left to optimize the page yourself and that can be a daunting task. Many time business owners using the DIY site builders quit in frustration due to the complexity of using the tool itself.

The greatest benefit of using a DIY website builder is the ability to work on your page at your individual pace and the low cost involved. If you have the time (remember also the cost of your time) and are willing to learn about SEO and copywriting as well as the actual DIY website builder tool, then the DIY website builder can be a good solution for you and your business.

Take the Lead with a Professional Web Design Company

Everyone knows that two heads are better than one. A professional web design company uses collaboration from copywriters, graphic designers, SEO professionals, software developers, inbound marketing strategists, project managers and several others to produce fully functional and highly attractive websites. The effectiveness of a professional web design company is the result of a team effort composed of different backgrounds. By using industry experts, a professional web design company delivers highly functional, unique, responsive, and profitable websites with both SEO and inbound marketing effectively interwoven into the website architecture and content.

With the many benefits of using a professional web design company, one disadvantage can be the upfront cost. Even with some services being a la carte, employing a design team can seem to be costly. In addition, a professional web design company will generally take approximately five to eight weeks to complete the site by the time they layout the navigation, create the design concepts, develop buyer persona’s, interview the key parties, research key phrases and then write the web content.

Creating a website that works for you and your clients takes time, no matter whether you do it yourself or hire a web team.

Take the Lead Download the OTR eBook – 10 Step Checklist Website Redesign

Ian ConklinIan Conklin is the President of OTR Web Solutions a web development company building marketing websites since 2000 with offices in Canada, USA, Europe and South America.
OTR Web is a Value Added Partner with HubSpot.

For all your Inbound Marketing and Website Development requirements Contact OTR Web.


Responsive Web Designers: Key to Any Successful Business


Responsive Web Designers: Key to Any Successful Business

With the myriad of smartphones, tablets and other mobile devices on the market today, how can you effectively reach this diverse audience while maintaining a singular vision for your brand? As recently as a few years ago this meant creating a bare-bones and utilitarian mobile site to compliment your main website. However, the abundance of mobile devices with different operating systems and screen sizes means this is no longer a feasible option. Traditional solutions such as mobile sites or apps are costly, inefficient and discouraging for your audience to use. Responsive web design for mobile devices is an approach to web design that recognizes the complex and fluid nature of the modern web and adapts your website to the needs of your audience, regardless of how they access it.

Using mobile sites or apps segregates your audience and creates a different experience for those viewing on a mobile device. Mobile sites are often bland, difficult to navigate and require more work to maintain. Using an app requires your audience to visit an app store and download just to view your site on their device. Responsive design eliminates these problems by allowing your site to scale and adapt to the needs of each individual device. This provides your audience with a consistent experience and maintains the vision you have for your brand.

The flexibility of responsive design extends beyond support of currently available devices. Responsive design recognizes the dynamic nature of the web and provides youResponsive Web Design with the ability to adapt as the web changes. The variety of devices with differing screen sizes and operating systems are no longer an obstacle as responsive design allows your site to adapt to the unique needs of each device. A responsively designed website is ready for the next big advancement on the web, keeping your brand already a step ahead of everyone else.

In addition to improving the experience of your audience, responsive web design for mobile devices streamlines and simplifies your experience as well. Traditional approaches require the updating, maintenance and cost of multiple websites and apps. A single responsively designed website can achieve the same cross-platform support as these traditional approaches for a fraction of the cost. In addition, a responsively designed website can be updated using a content management system, such as WordPress, to update your content on all platforms. The singular approach of Responsive Design also boosts your visibility on search engines due to your site sharing the same URL, regardless of device.

Responsive design is not only the cutting edge of web design, but the future as well. The unique ability to scale and adapt your website to any device provides you with an investment that will offer returns for years to come. As more users migrate from traditional PCs to mobile devices, a responsively designed website becomes less of a luxury and more of a necessity. A seamless transition from device to device maintains your own unique brand vision and reaches a wider audience than possible before.

Sharing your URL on a mobile browser via social media no longer results in desktop users seeing an ugly, out of proportion mobile site on their PC. Responsive web design for mobile devices also tears down barriers created by the use of mobile apps. Users who would otherwise forgo your website due to the requirement of an app download, can visit your website freely and easily. Responsive Design is a simple, yet innovative approach to provide the flexibility and support you need to stay ahead of the game.

ian_conklin3Ian Conklin is the President of OTR Web Solutions a web development company building marketing websites since 2000 with offices in Canada, USA, Europe and South America. OTR Web is a Value Added Partner with HubSpot.

For all your Inbound Marketing and Website requirements Contact OTR Web.


Responsive Website: The Happy Medium


Responsive Website: The Happy Medium

Not to long ago you could hear the frustration marketing and IT departments around the globe. If their firm was keeping up with the latest technology then they had as many as 3 websites to keep fresh! Updating content was now 3 completely different processes. The desktop update was old hat and not a problem, then came the task of the mobile site and possibly the tablet site!

As the mobile web developed,  it was quickly discovered that browsing on your mobile device was often a frustrating experience.  You often had to scroll horizontally and vertically. As for content it was generally a skeletal version of the desktop site. Time, money, content and ease of use were all being sacrificed! This would have to change. There was a need and it would need to be satisfied.

Web Developers Respond

With  the advent of new advanced coding languages and web browsers web developers quickly filled this void and and created the happy medium, the responsive website. A site that will adapt to whichever device you happen to be using. Now as a consumer you get the same content on any device. This alone reduces bounce rates. The visitor is no longer frustrated and enjoys ease of use. In today’s online world, if it isn’t easy and convenient, then competitors site will win the day. Convenience and ease of use coupled with engaging content are what keep visitors coming back to your site.

How Does This Apply to You?

By developing a responsive website you can reduce the amount of time you spend on SEO by up to 2/3. This means you will have more time to create quality content to provide to your visitors. These visitors will now be more likely to convert to leads and then to customers. At the same time you will be reducing overhead both in finance and time! Let me say that one more time, increase visitors, the quality of the experience and at the same time reduce maintenance cost in both time and money. In today’s competitive business market saving time and money while increasing quality are the golden eggs we all strive to uncover. A properly built, designed and maintained responsive web site can help streamline your business.

The Silver ‘Re’ Cap: The Happy Medium

  • Reduce time and money spent
  • Increase traffic
  • Reduce bounce rate
  • Increase return visits
  • Decrease maintenance
  • Increase quality with time and money saved

Social Media is a Conversation


Colin is the Social Media and Content Marketing guru at OTR Web Solutions a web development & content marketing company since 2000, with offices in Canada, USA, Europe and South America.


The Truth About Web Design


You are sitting with the IT Manager of a potential new client, they have been through your portfolio and like what they have seen and recognise that their website needs some professional help. This would appear to be a very good scenario and it is time to go in and close the deal. But wait the IT Manager just asked me what I thought of the corporate logo or the old website design? I had presumed that was why they had called us … because well it is brutal to say the least.

Like a lamb to the slaughter I tell the truth. The design is horrid and needs a complete rework and that is one of  the first places we will start in our brand exercise. There I have said it and I know the client will appreciate my professional honesty, except the look on his face tells me different. I just attacked his work, his baby he was the one that built this, this, what words can describe this brutal attempt at design! There is no place to go, backtracking is a waste of time and the meeting is rapidly coming to a close … but not the deal. No that deal is not going to close, at least with me.

You would think if you have done this once (and I have) you would never do it again! But alas sometimes you get so caught up in the honesty of the moment (and I have) that you forget and blurt out again how bad something is … and again go home without the deal in your pocket. Generally I presume it is not because you want to show the client how bad something is, but rather it is because you are so excited, as you know your team can make a very good impression and build something that works for the client.

Lessons learned in over 14 years in this business? First designers design, sometimes well and sometimes not so well, but for the most part they make very poor software coders. Second software coders write code and again sometimes well and sometimes not so well, but for the most part they make very poor designers. Third, it is probably best not to tell either group that generalisation to their face. It does not go over well.

Lastly and I know this so well from my years in the life insurance sales, a lifetime ago, when you know you have closed a deal and everyone is comfortable and chatting with their guard down … shut up!

Ian Conklin is the President of OTR Web Solutions a web development company since 2000 with offices in Canada, USA, Europe and South America.


Waste of $40K or Building Your Brand

Putting Paint to Canvas

If there is no art and if there is no feeling then all we have is a graphic.

Some years back I went into a town office and spoke to the person responsible for their web development. We chatted away and I made mention of their logo, which I felt was rather strong, and asked why it was not part of their website? The answer I quite huffily received floored me “… it is not necessary for a logo to be part of a website.” I left shortly thereafter as I have found through experience it is of little benefit to try to work with or educate a person who evidently knows far more than you do about a subject.

I sat down some time later with another person who had asked me to look at their non-profit website, which I did and we put a plan together for them. Knowing beforehand they had little money we put a proposal together that we were knowingly going to lose money on … actually a lot of money; but my thought was if we develop this we could market to other organisations of the same type. Similar to the meeting above I ran into someone that had been to a couple of seminars and knew far more than I did about web development … and to top it off our price in their opinion was ridiculously high. I withdrew our proposal for the same reasons as above.

On the other side, there was a particular town that put out an RFP to re-brand. On the face of it this is a good idea, particularly if you are looking at defining and positioning the town and understand you need a consistent message, look and feel across all the touch points of your town. This town received a number of proposals, (I was not one of them for the record) ranging from a low of about $35K to over $100K and after deliberation and presentations they chose a contractor that came in around $40K.

Surveys were taken, discussions held and a brand book was developed. The brand book was  done in the usual formats and laid everything out as to how the new look was to be delivered complete with a definition of the town’s message. Then came the unveiling of the new logo … everyone was excited and the town proud of the design chosen. My personal opinion when I saw it some time later was “Oh My” as it looked to me like they were graphically saying, don’t come to our town as we have nothing to offer.

The description was the usual, this colour depicts this, and this other colour portrays this thought, and the graphic so clearly shows this and this and this. I read it and what came to mind was the fable of the Emperor’s New Clothes. We spent $40K so it must be good and we will roll it out across every touch-point in our town. At least they recognise that the logo needs to be a part of their website which put them way ahead of the other town group.

On the surface it seems this town did everything correct. They sent out an RFP, they narrowed down to a choice of 2 or 3 and then had the selected groups make presentations to the selection committee and then chose and awarded the contract. Using that method, you often can luck out and the design team can come up with a winner … and other times it can be a $40K disaster.

Have you ever sat on a committee? Everyone has an opinion and in their own field they are probably very good and, their opinion in their field probably has some merit. Remember the first paragraph of this article? If the person “… it is not necessary for a logo to be part of a website” was on the committee and had a strong voice or if someone who had been to a seminar and now was an authority was part of the group … well I pity the contractor.

So what could the town have done to protect themselves? In my opinion they should have hired a consultant to create the RFP and assist in selecting the short-list. Then the consultant could have guided the committee through to the final choice and been the contact point for the contractor. Professional to professional and the town ends up the winner.

Ian Conklin is the President of OTR Web Solutions Inc., a Web Development company serving clients across North America. It takes a team to create a website that works.