Aztek Blog
Aztek is a web design, web application development, and digital marketing agency in Cleveland, Ohio who blogs about those very same topics.

Get Outside Your Comfort Zone at CodeMash 2015

Ever since attending my first CodeMash in 2011, it has been my must attend event every year. Not even the bitter cold can keep me away. The content CodeMash continues to deliver is top notch and the people are just wonderful. I have heard others say it, and I couldn’t agree more, but the “hallway” track is where the true value lies.

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CodeMash 2015: Our Must-See Sessions

Codemash logo

Amidst all the hustle and bustle of the holiday season, the Aztek Development Team has been preparing for another self-declared holiday: CodeMash.

Next week our team (along with 2000 other developers, designers, project managers, entrepreneurs, and geeks alike) will convene at the Kalahari Resort in Sandusky to spend 2-4 days coding, learning, listening...and splashing (with 173,000 sq/ft of waterpark, how could you not?!).

I've had the privilege of attending this wonderful conference for the past four years, and I am looking forward to most of the Aztek team experiencing it for the first time this year.

With just a week until the sessions begin, our team is counting down the days until the drive out for a few fun-filled and wildly educational days. There are a few sessions the team is particularly excited about, such as...

“See How Easily You Can Create a Cross-Platform 3D Game Using Unity”

Speaker: Chad Carter

I got my hands on the original NES back in 1989, at a time when I was barely starting to speak. It was hard to get my hands off of that controller. My fate was sealed. I have been a passionate gamer ever since. It was that passion which got me into programming. The first things I ever made were silly, text-based games. Sadly, I never managed to complete any serious games. There was always an intimidation aspect. But it seems that it has never been easier to get started. I heard about Unity this past year and I have been meaning to dive in. I am hoping this session will reignite my dreams of video game development.

- Dustin Graves

"How I built an Automated Meat Smoker on Arduino and then Raspberry Pi"

Speaker: Joseph Andaverde

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How Webmaster Tools Helps Your Keyword Strategy: Part 2

Last month, I explained how you can use Google and Bing Webmaster Tools to find and track new keyword opportunities. Today, I explain how you can use another report – the Content Keywords report - to implement a responsible keyword strategy after you know your target keywords.

Wondering what I mean when I say “responsible keyword strategy?" Keep reading. I’ll get to it.

A screenshot of a Content Keywords report in Google Webmaster Tools.

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5 Fun Tech Gifts to Preorder Now

You're a savvy shopper, so the holidays are your time to shine.

You were up before dawn to brave the crowds for that gigantic new flat screen, but what other gifts will you find for those hard-to-buy-for people on your shopping list?

Don't worry, we found some great gift options they'll never see coming.

We searched the internet to find some up-and-coming tech options for you to consider this holiday season. We're not being paid to share these, but if any of these companies want to throw some money my way I still have some gifts to buy...

Many of these products are still in the early development stages, so time will tell how they survive long-term. But, in the mean time, you (or someone on your shopping list) could support something fun and exciting. Just know that you won't get these in time to wrap up this year...

Ringly: Smart Jewelry

For the Connected, Fashionable Woman

  • Smart ring lets you put your phone away and put your mind at ease
  • Connects to your phone and sends customized notifications through vibration and light
  • Know if your next meeting is in 10 mins. or if your daughter is calling without looking at your phone

See all 5 Ringly Color Options

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Why Business Owners Should Be Wary Of Quick Web Proposals

The Situation

The other day I got a call from a prospect who asked me to send him our search engine optimization (SEO) quote. His primary goal was to rank for specific keywords on the first page of Google, in the state where his business operates.

A quick web proposal may not include what your business actually needs

What’s Best for Your Business?

Search engine optimization isn’t what it used to be. You need to have content that is useful and usable, not just a website full of words you want to rank for. So, I told him that he should be thinking about improving his overall web presence, and SEO is only one part of it. Why invest in one element of your web presence, especially if the others aren't fit to carry their weight?

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More Fun Than It Sounds: Global Day of Coderetreat

“You spend a whole Saturday…programming?"

"Um, don’t you do that for work?"

"And then you start a project you can’t possibly finish, predictably fail to finish, then scrap everything and start again?"

These are the types of questions you get when you tell someone you’re participating in the Global Day of Coderetreat, which I was lucky and smart enough to do on November 15th this year on LeanDog’s awesome floating office. I came together with around 19 other curious coders, ranging from development lifers, who’d written their first programs on punch cards, to complete newbs who were simply curious about what the heck was going on.

So here are some extended answers:

Yes, we spent the whole day programming.

Image of Conway's Game of Life from Wikipedia

The entire point of Coderetreat is to attack Conway’s Game of Life again and again. This is a seemingly simple game, where a “cell” lives or dies from turn to turn based on the number of living or dead neighbors it had. However, once you start trying to program the game, you find out it isn’t so simple anyway. What does it mean for a cell to be alive or dead?  Can it be neither? How many cells are there? How can you find their neighbors to determine their state? How do you take a turn? Where’s the aspirin?

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Web Design Trends We're Thankful Are Gone

As Thanksgiving approaches and 2014 draws to an end, there's a few web design trends we aren't sad to say goodbye to.

  1. M. Versions of Websites (Separate Mobile Sites)
    As if maintaining a completely separate mobile version of your website wasn't enough of a deterrent, Google stepped up to say that they preferred responsive designs over separate "M dot" versions because responsive sites provided a better user experience and reduced duplicate content issues for search. Raise your hand if you've ever visited a mobile specific version and immediately started hunting for the "go to full site" link. That's all you need to know.
    Mobile website with click here for full site link
  2. Rotating Billboards
    People finally came to the realization that these features served little purpose beyond settling organizational disputes over whose content got featured on a homepage. Having hard data to prove that users don't really see past the first banner is finally killing these bandwidth vampires off. Read more about website carousel stats.
    ND.edu Feature Click-through Rates
  3. QR Codes
    Easily one of the most misused technologies from the last decade, the QR craze has finally died off. Mostly because people had such a hard time seeing their value. Marketers were just slapping QR codes on anything with no real thought behind it, and as a result this annoying technology never gained mainstream adoption. I have actually seen QR codes on webpages and in emails. Just think about that for a minute...take as much time as you need. Got some extra time? Check out these funny QR code fails.
    A QR code on an airplane banner
  4. Flash
    You know what people love? Working on their computer and getting interrupted by Adobe to update their Flash plugin. Thankfully, I can't even remember the last time I visited a site that utilized Flash, an encouraging sign for sure. I have stopped updating my browser's Flash player plugin. And you know what? I have not missed it. Good riddance to bad garbage.
    The dreaded Adobe Flash update screen
  5. Small Text
    In the earlier days of the Web, we had this collective delusion that we needed to ignore fundamental tenants of graphic design and try to cram EVERYTHING on a website "above the fold". One way we made so much crap fit was by making the text really, really, small and hard to read. Finally, people started saying "Man, I spend a lot of time reading on the Internet, I wish this text wasn't so damn hard to read. Plus, I can't read it all at once anyways, maybe we should bump this up a few sizes.". It took until 2014, but we're finally coming around on this one.
    Example of bad web design. Don't do this.

Got any web design trends you are thankful to see disappearing? Or are you sad to see any of the above go? Let us know in the comments.

How Webmaster Tools Helps Your Keyword Strategy

Back in April, we reported that Google was blocking organic keyword data in Google Analytics. For many inbound marketers, this was a major blow. It not only made it more difficult to understand which keywords were generating the most leads and/or sales for your business, it limited a company's ability to understand the type of content site visitors most wanted to see.

Fortunately, keyword insight isn't limited to Google Analytics. If you use other resources like Google or Bing Webmaster Tools, you can still find valuable organic keyword data.

 Keyword strategy

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How Remarketing Can Improve Your Content Marketing

I recently attended a presentation by Tom Martin that challenged the way I think about content marketing. One of my biggest “a-ha!” moments was when Tom said that 50% of the content he creates goes on other websites.

You see, today’s consumer is self-educating. On average, according to Google's ZMOT study, more than 10 sources of information are researched before a purchase decision is made. That means people are looking in places OTHER than your website to educate themselves on products or services that you offer. To take advantage of this shift in consumer behavior, you’ve got to publish content on websites where your visitors spend time, even (and especially if) it’s not your own.

List of sites on a remaketing report in Google AdWords

But here’s the rub: Consumers can find the information they need anonymously. That makes it pretty darn tough to know who your prospects actually are, which begs the question…

How Do I Know Where Else I Should Publish My Content?

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You Can Have Your Dogfood and Eat It Too

dogfooding

"Dogfooding" is a term to used to describe a company using it's own product or, essentially, practicing what you preach. Early last week, several members of the Aztek Development Team had the opportunity to travel to DogFoodCon in Columbus. This Microsoft-centric conference had everything from Azure to Xamarin; focusing on the .NET technology stack and the tools they've developed to assist customers with their products.

The conference started on a high note, when Byron Tardiff, Azure Program Manager, flew in from Redmond to talk to us about the usability and scale of Azure Websites. Oh, and he also demoed, for the first time in public, a migration tool to move web applications hosted on Windows Server 2003 environments to the cloud; a very cool exclusive!

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