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South Portland, ME

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Blog

  • NEW PROJECT - Studio Cirque

    Category: Web Design
    Written By - Administrator
    Mar. 28, 2012 08:17

    Holly from Studio Cirque recently came to me looking for a very simple website solution for her business in Missoula, MT. Studio Cirque specializes in instructing aerial arts such as trapeze and fabric. More About The Project Holly shared her personal website with me which was very elegant and used beautiful photography. I also noticed it was based entirely in Flash. I explained to her why I don't use flash. She totally understood and I told her we could create a site just as beautiful and elegant without the use of Flash. She was under a very tight deadline and needed to get a basic site live within a couple days. We started with a very simple design with elegant text and a nice side bar image. We kept things very simple using the less is more approach. She wanted to have all the basic things a good business website should have including contact information, about the business, services offered etc. Since this is a school with classes, she needed to have a schedule that she coul…

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  • Just Launched - Spike's Phillys and More

    Category: Web Design
    Written By - Administrator
    Dec. 09, 2011 10:35

    I just launched a website for a local restaurant in Spokane! Spike's Phillys and More is a restaurant specializing in Philly Cheesesteaks and much more. Tom and Kim came to me looking to start with a simple design that includes the most important aspects of restauraunt web design. They wanted to have their menus, location and hours. In my opinion, if a restaurant site had nothing more than that, it would be a successful site. They wanted to keep it simple but have the option to expand if needed sometime down the road. What became the final product was a well designed site keeping the basic needs of all restaurant sites in mind. The location and hours can be seen immediately upon entering the site and there is a simple navigation which makes the menus just 1 click away. I also added the menus in .pdf format for easy download and printing. Spikes also wanted a way in which they could easily give updates and announcement of specials. I noticed that they currently use Facebook to r…

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  • New Project - Sneva Mfg

    Category: Web Design
    Written By - Administrator
    Dec. 01, 2011 10:35

    Matt Belair Designs recently met with TJ Sneva, owner of Sneva Manufacturing about an exciting new business partnership. TJ has been heading up Sneva MFG since 1994 specializing in custom built skis and snowboards. More About The Project Sneva Mfg was in the need of a new website with the ability to grow their business. They wanted to be able to reach further than just local word of mouth business. Sneva has been in the business of building custom skis and snowboards since 1994. Sneva wanted a new website that added some more professionalism to their business. They want the ability to sell their skis and snowboards right from their website. They also want to add some media such as photos and videos of their team. I'll also integrate social media to better engage their fans. Look for the redesign soon! Coming Soon The New Sneva MFG Site- www.snevamfg.com Launching Winter 2011

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  • When Will Flash Die? Now.

    Category: Web Technology
    Written By - Matt
    Nov. 21, 2011 11:18

    A couple months ago I wrote an article entitled "When Will Flash Die?” In that article I wrote about new products coming out that were advertising that they could view Adobe Flash content. I assume this was an easy way to take a jab at Apple whose products notoriously do not support Flash content. This was an easy way to make it seem like their products (mainly the new Samsung Tablet) were better than the iPhone and Apple for this very reason. It may seem like that way for now, but not for long! What many people don't know is that there is an emerging new version of HTML (the code used to build websites) called HTML 5. This new version of the classic markup language can emulate much of what Flash could and it is supported on mostly all mobile devices. This was a major problem for Adobe flash because the major market share for mobile devices is Apple who isn't supporting them. Apple does however support HTML 5. Why would Adobe continue to pour money into a technology that the major m…

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  • New Project - Spikes Phillys and More

    Category: Web Design
    Written By - Matt
    Nov. 14, 2011 01:53

    Matt Belair Designs was recently contacted to design and build out a website for Spikes Phillys and More based in Spokane, WA. Spikes is a local restaurant specilizing in philly cheesesteaks. They are located in North Spokane. More About The Project Spikes Phillys is looking to build their first site for their fairly new estalblishment. They are looking to start simple and grow in the future. They are interested in getting their information on the web including their location and most importantly their menus. I will also tie in their facebook page and also help them with their use of Twitter. They have a list of website that they like and I will try to keep them in mind when designing the initial look and feel. Coming Soon - www.spikesphillys.com Launching Late Fall 2011

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  • Is Facebook Stealing from the Pockets of Small Business Web Designers?

    Category: Social Media
    Written By - Matt
    Nov. 03, 2011 10:14

    Lately I've started to notice a trend on the web. Many small businesses are turning to Facebook for their web presence and foregoing traditional web sites. There are a couple reasons for this and the number one reason is cost. You can't compete with free. Another reason for this is because it's easy. They most likely already have a list of connections built up that they can easily broadcast to. One more reason could be that it's convenient. Everything and everybody is in one place. People tend to like these 3 things (ease of use, convenience, and cost). Once combined, it can be very powerful. One great example of this is the local home brewers club here in Spokane, WA. If you go to their website which I built as a donation to them: Inland Brewers Unite you can see there is not much going on. Sure there's a nice calendar that pulls from Google calendar and a forum for discussion, but it's not being utilized. It's very easy to use, it's informative and useful, but why are members not…

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  • Just Launched - Lewchuk Chiropractic

    Category: Web Design
    Written By - Administrator
    Oct. 28, 2011 12:21

    I Just launched a site for a local chiropractor in Spokane. The chiropractor wanted a very basic entry level website to get his name out. I was told that he gets almost 100% of his clients from referrals and word of mouth but he was interested in the power of a website. When I met with him, I did my best to explain to him how a website can drastically help his business. Even though word of mouth is very powerful I explained, having some web presence would give his business more credibility. He agreed with me and we decided to take it slow. He would want something very basic to start and down the road he would decide if it was worth it to grow the website. I told him I would easily be able to accommodate his approach and off we went. When it was all said and done we had a new home for Lewchuk Chiropractic I decided to keep the site very simple and to the point. You can see the layout is very informative and easy to navigate. All of the information is easily accessible. You ar…

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  • Do It Yourself Website Design – A look at Intuit Website Services

    Category: Web Design
    Written By - Matt
    Oct. 21, 2011 02:01

    It's not a secret that many companies offer “do-it-yourself” website design. This means that you don't need to know anything about web design to churn something out that looks way decentis sounds great for small business owners! It's pensive easy to do. It's better than not having a website at all. It's a start.   The way it works, is simple. A user signs up and for a fee (usually monthly), they are guided through a series of steps and prompts and voila! A website is born. The user can then usually drag and drop and customize the look and feel to make it your own. You might ask why I am writing about this. Wouldn't it hurt my business? Well in a nutshell, I'm not sure. I was recently asked if I knew anything about Intuit Website Services. Sure I have seen their new commercials as well. I was told it was “my competition!” Armed with only my logo and some content, I decided to check it out. Now when I think about my competition in the web design world, I tend…

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  • New Project - Artisan Nutrition

    Category: Web Design
    Written By - Matt
    Oct. 20, 2011 03:50

    I recently had the opportunity to meet with Paul from Artisan Nutrition about redesigning his website. Artisan Nutrition is a Spokane, WA based company specializing in nutritional supplements. Paul had worked with designers in the past that simply weren't meeting his needs. Paul has been in the nutrition supplement industry for 22 years. More About The Project Paul has brought to me his design and his ideas for the project. It's now time to put them into action. He is looking for an informative site which allows his clients to learn more about his products. He will also take into account some best practices for his small business website. These include having fresh, informative, up to date, and relevant content. We will employ simple SEO techniques to keep his site at the top of the search engine ranks which will create a steady income of visitors. All of this together will help to make his website successful for his business. More About Paul Paul has over 30 years of profe…

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  • Steve Jobs 1955-2011

    Category: Web Technology
    Written By - Matt
    Oct. 07, 2011 10:15

    Maybe I was just a little out of the loop with knowing how sick Steve had really become as of recent. When I heard of his passing earlier this week I was in complete shock. I knew he had a rare form of pancreatic cancer, and had stepped down as CEO of Apple in late August, but I had no idea he had become as ill as he had. Sure he had lost a lot of weight and looked frail when he unveiled the iPad 2 in March, but he still had the fiery and bright outlook that Steve Jobs had been known for. I am willing to bet he carried that same outlook until they day he passed. The world lost another Thomas Edison, another Ben Franklin, another Alexander Graham Bell. Steve Jobs was surely the greatest inventor and genius of my generation. Previously to typing this blog post on my iMac, I researched something on my iPad after sending a text message on my iPhone. That just goes to show you how much Mr. Jobs influenced the world and my life. He will be missed by all and eternally remembered for the…

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  • What happened to Google+?

    Category: Social Media
    Written By - Matt
    Sep. 30, 2011 09:59

    Back in August I blogged about what was happening with the new social media service Google+. When I did, the service was in its infancy and still in the beta phase. In other words, you needed an invite to join the service that Google promised would compete with Facebook. Just last week, Google finally opened the service up to the public and users no longer needed an invite to join. So has Google+ taken over the world like many people thought it would? Quite frankly, no it has not. Weeks after its launch, surveys cited as many as 25million unique users had signed up for the new social network. You'd think at that growth rate, it would be as popular as Facebook by now!   So Is It? Well I can't remember the last time in the past week I logged into Google+. Contrary to that, I have visited Facebook more times than I should admit. I feel I am in the same boat as most other users that had signed up during the beta period. Just because 25million people signed up, doesn't mean th…

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  • 5 Easy Ways To Enhance Your Small Business Website

    Category: Web Design
    Written By - Matt
    Sep. 13, 2011 01:30

    Not every business has extra money in today's economy to revamp their entire website, but just having a website is a huge advantage over many of the small businesses I've run into. You wouldn't believe the amount of small businesses in my area that lack any sort of web presence. Restaurants in particular! Why let sites like Yelp and UrbanSpoon dictate your business on the web? Much of that information can be misleading and you have no control over it! I recently touched on those subjects, but this is a different topic entirely. So you have your website, great start. Now What? I see this all the time. A business gets their website, it looks great, they're happy with it but then it just sits there. Although it is a great start to have some sort of web presence and in the world wide webs younger days this may have been true, but today, having a website is simply not enough to be an advantage over your competitors. Once you have your site, you need to use it as a tool to drive your b…

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  • Restaurants Constantly Ignore Good Website Standards….Why?

    Category: Web Design
    Written By - Matt
    Aug. 12, 2011 10:23

    Recently I've seen a few different blog posts and tweets regarding poor website design for restaurants. Two blogs in particular come to mind. Spocool.com is a food-based blog here in Spokane and they recently brought up their gripes with restaurant websites here. Many of these gripes, I fully agree with. Another post recently came from gizmodo.com. They brought up many of the same issues that SPOCool did. It seems as though there is a trend with these posts lately. If you type into Google “Why Do Restaurant Websites Suck”, you'll get pages of posts on the same subject. So WHY do restaurants constantly ignore modern web standards and why do design firms continually churn out the same BAD websites? When I use the term “Bad Websites” I don't necessarily mean bad looking, as many of these sites look> beul, but I can confidently say, the functionality of these beauties are poor. Take for example Master Chef judge, Graham Elliot's restaurant . Ita beautiful design with a ton o…

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  • When Will Flash Die?

    Category: Web Technology
    Written By - Matt
    Aug. 03, 2011 02:51

    I've recently seen many commercials (mainly Samsung) advertising for new smart phones and especially new tablets. It seems many companies are trying to overtake Apple (not likely to happen) with their new gadgets and from the amount of television advertising of late, they're spending a boatload of money in their attempts. One of Samsung's main talking points in their commercials is that the new shiny toys will support the use of Flash. To the regular consumer who knows a little bit about smartphone and tablet technologies, this sounds fantastic! Why would you want to buy the iPad2 when you can buy the new, similarly priced Samsung Galaxy tablet, which supports Flash? You can visit all those sites that aren't supported on the iPad or iPhone! Flash is used for many services and a lot of the mini games on the web today. All of these services and games aren't available to Apple iPad or iPhone consumers. If you've ever tried to go to a very Flash heavy website on an iPhone or iPad, you'r…

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  • Why Small Businesses NEED Websites

    Category: Web Design
    Written By - Matt
    Jul. 27, 2011 11:00

    It amazes me the amount of small businesses in todays day and age that are lacking a website. Even when looking for new places to eat you’d be amazed at the amount of restaurants that have no information about them on the web. In my opinion they lose credibility and in turn, my business. I find myself constantly judging companies based on their websites. If a business has no website or a poorly designed site, what does that say about the business itself? To me, I feel it says that they don't care about trends in technology. It is very important for a business to have an informative, up to date, website. Recently, I’ve witnessed a trend where companies are using Facebook alone as a website. I applaud the initiative to have thing on the web and Facebook can be a good way to connect with your customers, but it comes up short in terms of informative content. Sure it has the ability to convey basic information such as contact info and hours but that’s where it ends. While rece…

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  • How Some Breweries Are Using Twitter to Portray Their Identity

    Category: Social Media
    Written By - Matt
    Jul. 18, 2011 10:52

    What are breweries tweeting about and how does their identity come through their tweets? I tried to think of as many breweries as I could and then I checked out their twitter accounts. Almost every brewery at the very LEAST had an account, and most of the ones I looked at, were tweeting up a storm. The way they utilized it however, differed from brewery to brewery. You may not think that breweries have an “identity” (I mean it’s just beer right?) but that’s not true. Take ewing formple. Their flagship brew is called Arrogant Bastard. They play off a “we’re better than the rest” and “You’re not worthy of this beer” attitude. If you don’t believe me, just read the small print on one of their very interesting bottles some time. They also come off as dark and gothic (just look at their artwork and logos.) This is their identity, but do they portray this via twitter? We’ll touch on that shortly. brewery comes to mind and does a fantastic job creating an…

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  • Will Google+ Find Its Way?

    Category: Social Media
    Written By - Matt
    Jul. 15, 2011 10:28

    Over the past couple of weeks Google+ has created quite the buzz across the Internet and that was precisely what Google aimed to do. They started with a beta “testing” phase in late June and allowed the select few users to invite friends (much like the way Gmail was launched in 2004). The users grew exponentially from there, which in turn caused Google to revoke the invite button to keep growth under control. In my opinion, they revoked the growth to create more buzz around the product. They now had a good amount of users tweeting and blogging about this new product that other people could not get. It was now the simple law of supply and demand. Demand for Google+ was through the roof and the supply was non-existent unless you were the select lucky ones who got an early invite. Once they finally added the invite button back on the users began to grow exponentially again and it was reported yesterday (July 14) that the site had amassed over 10 million new users thus far. The real que…

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  • Welcome to the official blog of Matt Belair Designs!

    Category: Web Design
    Written By - Matt
    Jul. 14, 2011 11:48

    Welcome to my new blog! I'll hopefully be able to bring you some insightful information in the world of social media, web design, SEO and many other topics that may come to mind! I am a freelance web designer currently living in Spokane, WA. I am always looking for new and exciting projects and have recently completed some. I feel my rates are very competitive and I am always available to meet face to face with my clients. I have heard many of them mention that they looked at other local design firms and felt that they would be treated as "just another client." Being a small and relatively new firm I am able to treat all of my clients as if they were my only client. I specialize in small business web design but have also recently taken on a few large scale community based projects. I enjoy all aspects of the business from the design of the page through the post-launch maintenance.  Recently, Social Media and SEO have taken center stage in the world of web design. If you ar…

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  • How Much Will My Website Cost!?

    Category: Web Design
    Written By - Matt
    Jul. 13, 2011 01:44

    This is the number one question any designer will get when consulting with a client. The answer is, there is no answer until more details are known. Every website is different and its hard to give a quote without knowing the details. When giving my clients a quote I try to judge the cost on what I charge per hour. This rate fluctuates with the client's deadline. With that said, the sooner you need it, the more you will pay. These costs range from around - per hour. Other factors include the design itself, will I need to create 1 template that all the other pages will fall into or will there be a whole different design/template for each page? You can assume that it will take me around 10-12 hours for 1 design/template and depending on the complexity of the content a half hour to an hour per page. Contrary to beliefs, a 10 page website using a 1 template design is really not much more time consuming than a 3 page design using that template, maybe a couple hours more.…

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