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So far Beacon News has created 6 blog entries.
9 08, 2018

Design Is More Than Meets the Eye

By | 2018-08-09T15:20:34+00:00 August 9th, 2018|Categories: Higher Education, Web Development, Creative Design|Tags: , , |

Undertaking a web re-design can provide the liberating feeling of starting anew, from scratch. But, most of the time, that’s not really the case. Pretty much all of the websites undergoing a re-design still have a base of existing users.

So, while you do want to focus your re-design around fresh, modern and relevant elements, you should make sure that your new website still accommodates your loyal followers.

You can do so by analyzing your Google Analytics data and taking note of the browsers and devices your current users utilize. We’ve parsed GA mobile and audience analysis in an earlier post. These data points can have a significant influence on your design. After all, what good is a shiny, new, website, when it doesn’t display or load correctly on the devices your primary audience use most.

Designing for Mobile

In today’s mobile-heavy society, designing a website using a mobile-first approach is a must. With search engines placing particular emphasis on mobile-friendly capabilities, it’d be foolish to ignore how your website looks through a mobile screen.

That said, while everyone typically buys into the mobile-first approach, as the design/development process stretches out, sometimes the focus shifts to other priorities. Most often, the design approach morphs from mobile-first to mobile-constrained.

What’s the difference?

Instead of the mobile experience driving design, mobile elements (like smaller screen sizes) guide the initial design parameters and then take a back seat to content concerns deemed more important. This is what web design insiders call progressive enhancement — or, a focus on core content first, and adding richer elements that enhance the user experience second.

This isn’t necessarily a bad thing. As long as key elements are geared toward the mobile experience, like responsive templates and main navigation built for smaller screen sizes, you should be in good shape. Just make sure the website works for all the devices your audiences use (yes, even the old ones).

Designing for Browsers

The kind of browsers your website audiences utilize can also impact your re-design. Not everyone automatically updates their preferred browser when new versions come out, no matter how many times the IT guy recommends it. The impact of old browsers can be felt in a couple of ways.

First, older browsers simply won’t be able to support some of the newer design elements  — or, won’t be able to handle them well. If you know that a large portion of your users relies on an outdated version of a browser, that can limit your design choices and nix that really cool feature that you wanted to include.

One tool that developers use in cases like this is caniuse.com. This site allows users to see what versions of browsers support a particular feature through a simple search.

The other concern with outdated browsers is security. Browser updates are often issued in order to patch up vulnerabilities in the underlying code. If users don’t update their browsers they don’t just leave themselves exposed, they spread the risk to the entire ecosystem.

One way to protect your site is to remind user to update their outdated browser via an “old browser alert.” A pop-message can be set to trigger anytime a user with a vulnerability logs onto to the site, and encourage them to update.

Lately, coders have even made an effort to encourage users to update their browsers in order to protect not just themselves, but everyone else, too.

Beacon Knows Web Re-design

If you’re observing declining traffic or cratering conversion metrics on your website, it may be time to consider an overhaul. Request a website audit by our knowledgeable digital marketing team and see how you’re doing.

2 08, 2018

Beacon is Going to edUi 2018

By | 2018-08-02T10:23:15+00:00 August 2nd, 2018|Categories: Beacon News, Higher Education, Web Development|

Beacon is going to edUi 2018 in Charlottesville, VA. If you’re a web professional who works with colleges, universities, libraries or museums, you should, too. In fact, we’ll help you get there.

Register here and receive $100 off the registration fee. Or just apply the code “Beacon” on the regular registration form to access the discount.

The conference always features a great line-up of speakers and workshops, and this year is no different. Check out the blog posts from this year’s presenters, and this guest blog post from our CEO and President Mark Dirks.

We hope to see you there. Come and say hello October 8 – 10.

15 03, 2018

OUTC18: Beacon on Accessibility

By | 2018-03-14T12:40:16+00:00 March 15th, 2018|Categories: Higher Education|Tags: , |

There is no doubt that ADA compliance and accessibility is the hot button issue for today’s college and university websites. Compelled by section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act, federal agencies and institutions that receive federal funding must make their websites accessible to all users. Questions remain. For example, what does web accessibility look like? And how do we get there?

At this year’s OmniUpdate User Training Conference, Keana Lynch, Beacon’s Director of UX Design & Development will draw on a wealth of experience with accessibility issues, offering valuable advice on recognizing issues and developing strategies to reach and maintain accessibility goals.  From site evaluation to action plan, get the perspective and tools you need to get ahead of any future user issues or litigation.

OUTC18 will take place from March 25 – 29 at the Hyatt Regency Orange County in Anaheim, CA. The OmniUpdate User Training Conference brings together higher ed content managers from all over the country to discuss the latest news, strategies and best practices for college and university websites. Broaden your knowledge base with workshops and training sessions and network with like-minded professionals from all across the higher ed space. Registration closes Friday, March 16. Register HERE.

16 01, 2018

Hannon Hill Introduces an Accessibility Plugin

By | 2018-01-18T12:24:14+00:00 January 16th, 2018|Categories: Beacon News, Cascade CMS|Tags: , , |

As if security and dependability were not reason enough to use Hannon Hill’s Cascade CMS, its newest, innovative plugin makes it a must for Higher Ed, business and content creators of all kinds.

Teaming with Siteimprove, Hannon Hill has introduced a great new plugin that checks for content and accessibility issues as part of the editing process. Unique to Cascade 8.7, it is a significant step forward as the user can identify and correct accessibility issues as soon as the page is published (and before your legal team hears from unhappy site users).

This new plugin makes it easier for content creators and editors to add and check new content with greater efficiency. In addition to accessibility issues, the new plugin also cross-checks spelling, broken links, SEO and more. It’s a comprehensive plugin that one should never have to do without.

In conjunction with Hannon Hill’s Accessibility Webinar, this new plugin gives you everything you need to stay on top of your content issues – especially for those who have had to grapple with vague and hard to find accessibility issues. The aforementioned webinar, scheduled for Feb 8, emphasizes the front end of the process including key maintenance strategies, planning for new site elements and considering accessibility in everything you do. Sign up HERE.

For Cascade users, it’s Christmas in January thanks to Hannon Hill and Siteimprove.

8 01, 2018

Beacon Launches SITEXPRESS for Small Businesses

By | 2018-03-06T09:40:14+00:00 January 8th, 2018|Categories: Web Development|Tags: , |

GREENSBORO NC.  Beacon announces the launch of its all-inclusive, budget-friendly SITEXPRESS product for small to medium-sized businesses.  Packed with Beacon’s 20 years of web technology experience, smaller businesses can now get a high-end, customized website, with all the bells and whistles, to compete more effectively in generating leads and sales online.

“About 3 years ago, we started talking internally about how we could help smaller companies have great websites at a lower cost so they could level the playing field somewhat,” says Keana Lynch, Beacon’s Director of UX Design & Development. “SITEXPRESS contains the best-of-the-best from our designers, developers, digital marketing specialists and technology experts.”

With SITEXPRESS, customers get a dependable website on a platform that has been tested across 10 different device-browser combinations, especially mobile, but is also easy-to-use, SEO-friendly, meets accessibility requirements (for disabled users), and designed to engage visitors.  But that’s not all.  Customers are trained to update their own website and the price includes web hosting, ongoing maintenance/support and Google Analytics setup/reporting.  Wait, there’s more.  Beacon’s digital marketing specialists also created 3 unique upgrade packages, specifically for small business, to facilitate short-term, gradual, or accelerated growth in traffic to your website.  SITEXPRESS is a much more comprehensive, dependable alternative to WordPress.

“We’ve learned that smaller businesses need a turn-key website solution,” says Mark Dirks, Beacon’s CEO.  “With the complexities and changing design trends for websites, many small businesses don’t know what they need, nor have the time it takes to fully leverage the web to grow their business.  Nowadays, your website is the centerpiece for your marketing strategy and typically, the first point of contact for new business.  So we combined all the critical elements into the SITEXPRESS framework and services to make it easier and cost-effective for smaller businesses to stand out among their competitors.”

After the initial setup fee, customers pay a fixed monthly fee of $395 for 2 years, but may cancel at any time without penalty.  “We are confident that customers will like the results and value the support of our team, which is why the contract is not binding,” says Dirks.  “So they get a high-performing website, preserve cash by paying monthly and get a proven partner for support whenever you need us.  Not a bad deal.”

Beacon Technologies is a recognized leader in web design and analytics for Higher Education and Retail/Ecommerce with clients in 45 states and 4 countries.  As one of the first Certified Google Analytics Partners in the U.S., Beacon drives data-driven decision-making & business growth via a proven comprehensive digital strategy.

27 03, 2017

New Arrival! See the Birth…

By | 2017-06-16T12:42:10+00:00 March 27th, 2017|Categories: Beacon News|

After 8.5 hours of hard labor at M3 on St. Patrick’s Day, our newborn officially arrived at 3:20pm, weighing in at a hefty 4,621 pounds. Under trusted and constant care, Team M3 delivered a bright, healthy and colorful addition to the Beacon family.  We are so thankful for all the attention we are receiving for our carefully wrapped bundle of joy, which we’ve named “The BITS-Mobile”.

Beacon’s IT Services (“BITS”), a division of Beacon Technologies, primarily serves the Triad area (Greensboro/Winston-Salem/High Point). “The BITS-Mobile will not only provide transportation for our technical staff, but also transport equipment such as servers and desktops to our client sites when necessary,” says Mark Dirks, Beacon’s CEO.  “Since our BITS clients are mostly Triad-based, our marketing team recommended a more traditional ‘mobile’ marketing approach through vehicle graphics for local brand visibility.”

Matthews Mobile Media (“M3”) has an incredible team and worked with our design team to produce a really creative and professional design. John Scaramuzzo, Beacon’s co-founder and COO, leads the newly dubbed “BITS” Division and is anticipating continued growth after seeing the client base double over the last 12 months.  “Although my team constantly monitors our clients’ technical infrastructure to maintain system health and deter technical problems, there are times when the staff needs to be on site for installations and to work on specific issues,” says Scaramuzzo.  “BITS is essentially an extension of our client’s organization and it’s important that we can be on-site within minutes.  So the BITS-Mobile is a welcome addition to the Team!”


Special Note from Matthews Mobile Media (M3):

Congratulations!  It’s a BITS mobile!!!

We have been clients of Beacon for several years and have benefited from their expert team’s proactive service.  There is no doubt that the personal attention and dedication to client growth is a reflection of their mission.  What a privilege to be a part of the birth of their next generation by helping bring the BITS-Mobile to life.  To us, it is a natural fit because we specialize in mobile.  We help companies from all over express themselves through vehicle and environmental graphics.

We like to turn heads for our clients; that’s what we do! So helping to design, create, produce and apply that ‘outerwear’ for our Beacon’s newborn gives us an exceptional rush!  Who knew IT could be so sexy?  Well… we did ;)

Thank you, Beacon, for letting us outfit your newest addition!  All of us at Team M3 look forward to watching the BITS-Mobile grow up and have a little brother or sister very soon!