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We're a product design company from Indianapolis that builds fast, mobile-friendly, responsive websites and web applications that are simple to use.


Fixing STI in Rails 3.2

Tue, 01 Mar 2016 17:58:16 +0000

Rails 3.2 does not handle building STI classes by saving the :type. There are a handful of solutions for fixing it, but they all break building through relationships because they don't handle blocks. This fixes that limitation.

Place the following code in an initializer: /config/initializers/active_record_sti_patch.rb

if Rails.version > '3.2' && Rails.version < '4'
  class ActiveRecord::Reflection::AssociationReflection
    def build_association(*opts, &block)
      col = klass.inheritance_column.to_sym
      if (h = opts.first).is_a? Hash and (type = h.symbolize_keys[col]) and (type.class == Class || type.class == String)
        opts.first.with_indifferent_access[col]*opts, &block)
      elsif klass.abstract_class?
        raise "#{klass.to_s} is an abstract class and can not be directly instantiated"
      else*opts, &block)

Updated June 16th, 2016:
Added support for the passed in attributes hash keys to be either strings or symbols.

5 Quick Tips for E-commerce SEO

Mon, 08 Feb 2016 16:46:55 +0000

Everyone wants to rank in the #1 position in Google search results. Here are a few quick tips to get you on the right path.

#1 Write original product descriptions

You must have unique descriptions for all of your products and category pages. Write them from scratch and don't look at what your competitors have done. Be sure to include keywords that both describe your product and explain how people look for it – they are often different – but don't over do it.

If you resell someone else's product, never use the product descriptions provided to you by the manufacturer. Those descriptions already exist on other websites and you will not stand out. In fact, it will lower your ranking!

The way you write is also important. You want to be natural in what you say to someone. As you write, imagine you are having a conversation with someone. Would you actually say what you have written?

#2 Write unique page titles and meta descriptions

These are very similar to the product description, but will be much shorter. Google usually displays the first 50-60 characters of a title tag, so keep your titles under 55 characters. You have roughly 155 characters for the meta description.

These two are combined into the result seen by search engine users. You want to be to-the-point, descriptive with keywords and engaging. Give them a reason to come to your site.

You can learn more about title tags and meta descriptions at

#3 Keep your blog and website up to date

If you aren't updating your site on a regular basis, you aren't relevant. Things change very quickly on the Internet and the search engines want to know that you are actively maintaining your site. In a matter of months, a site that doesn't change will be seen as abandoned.

Here are some good tips for blogging:

  • Don't just write about your business or products. Focus on the lifestyle of your target market and how you can help them.
  • Answer questions that your visitors have. People often use search engines to answer questions to problems they have.
  • Include your keywords. Make sure your blog posts contain the major keywords that you want to rank for, but don't do it all at once.
  • Make a content plan each month. Brainstorm ideas, bookmark or save ideas that you come across online.
  • Spend 30 minutes once a week. The first few times you do it will take longer, but you will quickly get better at it.

Remember, the goal here isn't always direct sales. You are trying to boost the importance of your entire site and thus the ranking of your individual pages.

#4 Benchmark your speed on desktop and mobile

We can't stress enough how important it is for your site to be fast, and not just on a desktop computer. Mobile usage is surpassing desktops, so you must have a mobile friendly design that loads and renders quickly. If not, you are losing money while the visitor goes somewhere else.


ich snippets of structured data help you stand out in crowded categories.

#5 Use structured data for better looking search results

Structured data markup is a way to explain your product to search engines. Google, Yahoo and Bing can then use this information to present your information more prominently. This includes things information like pricing, photos, reviews, addresses

You can learn more about structured data and rich snippets from Google's developer site.

Speed: Why Your Website is Losing You Money

Mon, 01 Feb 2016 18:01:47 +0000

The average web page is growing at an alarming rate, around 20-25% per year for the last five years. It's an obesity problem of epic proportions that few marketers even know exists. Why should you care? There are three main reasons. First, the amount of consumers who purchase something from you is inversely proportional to load time. When load times go up, sales go down. Amazon estimates that one additional second would cost them $1.6 Billion dollars in sales — every 100ms costs them 1% of sales. Google ran tests with similar results showing that slowing its search results by just four tenths of a second they could lose 8 million searches per day. Second, Google already takes page speed into account in rankings and is now going to start marking sites with a 'Slow To Load' label and a yellow triangle with an exclamation point. Potential visitors will see your site in search results, but they'll never click on the link to load it. Third, a large majority of your users aren't on a fast cable connection or LTE. Here's a breakdown of how long it takes to load common sized websites at different network speeds: Internet Connection 10 MB File 6 MB 3 MB 1 MB High Speed Cable (50Mbit) 1 second < 1 second < 1 second < 1 second Typical Cable (25Mbit) 3 seconds 1 second < 1 second < 1 second LTE (15Mbit) 5 seconds 3 seconds 1 second < 1 second DSL (10Mbit) 7 seconds 4 seconds 2 seconds < 1 second 3G HSPA+ (3Mbit) 26 seconds 15 seconds 7 seconds 2 seconds 3G (1.5Mbit) 52 seconds 31 seconds 15 seconds 5 seconds Edge (384Kbps) 3 minutes, 28 seconds 2 minutes, 5 seconds 1 minute, 2 seconds 20 seconds GPRS (171Kbps) 7 minutes, 47 seconds 4 minutes, 40 seconds 2 minutes, 20 seconds 46 seconds Dial Up (56Kbps) 23 minutes, 48 seconds 14 minutes, 17 seconds 7 minutes, 8 seconds 2 minutes, 22 seconds This does not take into account the amount of time it takes to look up resources and connect to their servers. That typically adds around a half a second per server to cellular connections. It can be downright brutal with 2G and 3G cellular networks. Four in 10 Americans give up accessing a mobile shopping site that won't load in just three seconds. But, here's the real reason this chart should scare you. The average internet connection in the US is 11.7 Mbit, while the average world wide is just 5.1 Mbit. Remember: That's the average! How many of your US based visitors do you think are below 3 Mbit? Try 30%. It can't be that bad. Can it? Yes, and it's much worse than you think. Our target should be less than 2 MB in size to quickly reach a large majority of your visitors. Here are few websites that I visit on a regular basis. Facebook I decided to take a quick peek at my Facebook feed. That cost me 228 different requests for files and 6.95MB. If you have videos set to autoplay, it's much, much worse. 228 request. If you mouse over anything it sends tracking request. After leaving the page sitting for 10 minutes, I broke 999 requests. I can't actually tell you how many because Safari stopped counting. CNN The home page is 7.33MB. An article on the election was 10.9MB at first with 489 requested files. By the time the first video on that pages finishes autoplaying it's over 600 requests and 30MB. The Verge Simply pulling up the first article on this tech news website made 357 requests to their servers. BBC 246 requests and 4.86MB Here's an article about pages being too big and bloated. Apparently that's all talk because the page still made 55 requests and needed 2.64MB. TGFI.Net Contrast all of these with our website, the one that you are on. We have 21 requests for 510K. The largest pages on our site – blog posts – are still less than 1MB. Websites heavy on imagery and video are not always the worst offenders. WHOA! My site is huge! How can I fix it? There are five main reasons that websites have become so big. Designers love the [...]

Why we build responsive, progressively-enhanced websites

Tue, 26 Jan 2016 02:45:07 +0000


I think this article from quartz sums up that difference nicely:

Africa and Asia, the two fastest growing mobile markets, aren’t very big on apps.

The overwhelming majority of mobile internet activity in the regions is spent on web pages, according to a report released yesterday (July 28) by Opera Mediaworks. In Asia and Africa, websites made up 90% and 96% of mobile impressions, respectively, in the second quarter.

Their habits are a sharp contrast to the US, where apps accounted for 91% of impressions.


Mobile First

Whenever we start a new website, we start by designing that website with a simple, mobile version as the default view. A very large percentage of people around the world are still using low-end feature phones – not iOS (iPhone/iPad) or Android – and/or access the web from a slow network connection (less than 400Kb/s). They simply can’t get to a lot of the websites out there.

Here’s an example: It took me about 1.2 seconds to load the New York Times home page this morning. If I was on a phone with an EDGE connection, that would have taken more than three minutes before I could start reading anything.

If you’ve ever driven away from a city and into the heartland, you’ll very quickly understand this pain.

Enter Progressive Enhancement

We can always detect iOS, Android and more advanced devices, then enable more advanced features for those users. We can also control how we load the web page:

  • Control the loading of images (Picturefill)
  • Delay loading fonts
  • Minimize the use of JavaScript and delay loading it
  • Prevent the browser from re-drawing (rendering) the screen

By controlling how content is loaded, we can get the user reading the web page much, much faster. Imagine this:

How much does your experience change if you could start reading the New York Times home page in 15 seconds instead of three minutes?

How fast your website performs is just as important as how it looks and how it works. Let’s not forget that.

Photo copyright Dragan – CC BY 2.0.

We’re Moving

Tue, 26 Jan 2016 02:44:14 +0000


Situated in the extreme southwest corner of Carmel, our new home is in the Auburn Woods office park near 96th Street and Michigan Rd – just a minute or two from Interstate 456.

9650 N. Commerce Drive, Suite 511 Carmel, IN 46032

The Mobile Crossover

Mon, 19 Jan 2015 22:03:04 +0000

When the iPhone was released in June of 2007, we knew it would change our use of computers, but no one had any idea it would happen so fast. Today, almost all of the sites we work on now have more visitors on mobile devices than desktops – some by a significant margin.

And when you look at the trends, it’s only going to widen.

Don’t wait to make your websites and emails mobile friendly – your customers won’t.


Building a Website with Performance in Mind

Mon, 19 Jan 2015 22:03:04 +0000

The team at TGFI recently launched a new web site for the Big South Conference. Through our initial research process we identified three key initiatives:

  1. They had an incredible amount of content that needed to be well organized.
  2. It had to look good on a variety of devices.
  3. It had to be fast. Really fast.

The first two initiatives are easily addressed as part of our normal research and design processes. However, speed is a bit different for two reasons. First, most projects don’t have the traffic to warrant spending a lot of time on performance. While TGFI always works on database optimization (queries and indexes) as we go, we usually can’t spend extra time on caching, css and javascript performance. Second, most projects don’t really need it. They don’t have a lot of traffic and their server can easily handle it.

This project, however, was a bit different. We knew from early research that over half of the people using the site were on mobile devices – one of the highest percentages we’ve ever seen. They also have large spikes in their traffic when people rush to the site to watch football or basketball games, which compounds when multiple games are streaming simultaneously.

How We Addressed It

There are a multitude of ways to handle this process, but here are some of the key techniques we used to address performance.

  • We used the Rails asset pipeline to provide one javascript and one css file. Every additional request for a mobile device is a big delay and a let down to visitors.
  • We used fast content delivery networks (CDN) for video, images and files (pdf, Word, Excel, etc). These systems are optimized for lots of traffic and high bandwidth scenarios.
  • We compressed images the best we could without them looking like crap. We also minified and compressed css and javascript for much smaller downloads.
  • We used Varnish as a caching proxy between the visitor and the web servers. This stores css, javascript, images and in some cases full pages of content in memory for as long as we tell it to do so. When in use, visitors never touch the application or the database and it responds back to them in just a few milliseconds!
  • We cached key pages, information and snippets (articles, menus, etc) in Memcached. We use these snippets so we only need to recreate something when it changes.
  • We hosted it ourselves so that we have control over everything we can during a visit.

OK, But How Well Does This Really Work?

Extremely well. Here is our performance graph from the last week showing an average response time of just 32 milliseconds. If I had to guess, the average across most of our applications is somewhere between 750ms and 1 second. That’s a big difference.


I should be honest here though – that’s a misleading graph. It’s only showing the requests that make it to the Ruby on Rails application. If you take Varnish caching and our web servers into account, our average response time is under ten milliseconds. Even under heavier spikes of traffic, there has been no perceptible change.

For all those naysayers out there, you are wrong – Rails can scale. You just have to know what you’re doing.


Why Responsive Web Design Matters

Mon, 19 Jan 2015 22:03:04 +0000

Every day more than a million mobile devices are being put into the hands of consumers. In the US, those consumers spend more than 2 hours per day using mobile apps and websites. That’s twice as much time as they spend surfing the web on a desktop computer. Across more than 100 sites that we maintain, 35% of people are using iPhones, iPads and Android devices.

The web design landscape is changing and we saw this trend more than a year ago. That’s why we  changed our approach to design. We no longer design sites for a fixed 1024×768 computer monitor. We create simple, responsive prototype layouts in HTML with actual content so our customers can interact with them on multiple devices and screen sizes. We show content when appropriate and hide it when it’s not. Sometimes we target 2 different screen sizes, sometimes it’s 5 – it depends on the application.

What is Responsive Web Design?

It’s a cost effective way of visually changing how a website or web application looks for different visitors without having to build separate versions.

The best way to understand it is to see it in action. Take a look at one of our simpler sites, Cozy Trucking, on both your desktop and mobile phone or tablet. They look different right? Look again. The content is nearly identical, we’ve just rearranged the pieces of the puzzle. One web page and one set of content to maintain that responds to different screen sizes.

You can get more complex with it as well. For the Horizon League, we rearrange schedules, news articles, images and video. In some cases we hide what’s not important from small screens.

The Business Case

Still not convinced that responsive web design matters, here are a few more facts for the bottom line:

  • In 2011, PayPal did more than $4 billion in mobile payments while eBay sold more than $5 billion in merchandise on mobile devices.
  • For the past three years, mobile devices have been quickly eroding the 20 year dominance of Microsoft Windows.
  • 28.5% of US consumers used a mobile device to visit a retailer’s site this Thanksgiving holiday.
  • On Black Friday this year, Apple’s iPad contributed to 10% of online shopping, followed by the iPhone at 8.7% and Android devices at 5.5%.

In 2013, if you fail to address the user experience on mobile devices you’re leaving money on the table.

Sources: Why Mobile Matters • Data Monday: Mobile Holiday Shopping • The Rise and Fall of Personal Computing


Our Work: Building a Better Customer Relationship

Mon, 19 Jan 2015 22:03:04 +0000

For the last 18 months we’ve been working with PinPoint Perks – an Indianapolis coupon, deal and savings site – to rebuild, redesign and enhance the way local businesses connect with their customers.

We started by taking their existing design and created a solid foundation with a custom Ruby on Rails application to replace their failing PHP web site. Once the foundation was in place we began to slowly redesign key elements of the site, such as the navigation, coupons, search functions and administration.

PinPoint Perks offers several key features to their clients, the local businesses, that are unique:
  • Private Branding – Each business gets a private branded partner website just for their customers.
  • Personal Vendors – We all have our favorite places to shop, eat or find help. PinPoint Perks allows businesses to add their favorites, sending a personal recommendation to their clients.
  • No Competition – Business can block all of the competitors in their category, or individual ones they don’t like.
  • Free Marketing – PinPoint Perks sends thousands of personal branded emails to customers each month on behalf of their partners.

Not to mention their are some great deals on the site, most of which are exclusive to PinPoint Perks.

Growing Up and Reaching Out

After two years in business, it was time for PinPoint Perks to take the next step. Just this past month we spent some time on the organization of the site, added some key pieces for search engine optimization, and took the covers off the site, opening it to the general public. The reception has been great.


Our Work: Shopping with Floormingo

Mon, 19 Jan 2015 22:03:04 +0000

We’ve worked with the wonderful people at Floormingo since 2005 to provide a great way for do-it-yourselfers to buy hardwood flooring online at discount prices. For this year’s update we created a brand new web design and e-commerce shopping experience.


For this year’s update, there were four specific things we wanted to address:

  1. Make it easier for a visitor to find the product they want and suggest related items that might meet their needs.
  2. Treat customers with respect and make them feel safe about their decision to purchase with Floormingo.
  3. Simplify the purchasing process.
  4. Increase product awareness in the search engines.

At lot of research and attention to detail went into this design and it has truly paid off. Here are a few quick stats about the changes we’ve made to

  • Visitors spend twice as long on the site.
  • Unique visitors are up over 400% year over year.
  • Sales are up over 500% from this time last year.

And don’t think for one second that we’re done just yet. We have a large number of new features, minor changes and tweaks that we are testing to optimize the shopping experience even further.

If you’d like to know more about the changes we’ve made and how we might help you sell on line, please give us a call at 317- 663-3296, ext 202.

iPhone Application: Horizon League Mobile 2.0

Mon, 19 Jan 2015 22:03:04 +0000

We’ve just wrapped up developing version 2.0 of the HL Mobile iPhone application for the 2010 season.

In addition to speed improvements, new features include:

  • A much larger video archive, including some games in HD (requires IOS 4.0).
  • Schedule of Upcoming Games
  • iPhone 4 Retina Graphics

For those of you wanting to watch games live, you’ll have to wait a bit more. While we have the capability to show them to you, most of the game locations cannot give us the multiple, large video streams we need.

Image Gallery

Here are a few screen shots of the iPhone App. Click on each one to view full size.

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Making Web Video Work with Mobile Devices

Mon, 19 Jan 2015 22:03:04 +0000

The most popular way to stream video today is the same as 4 years ago: using a Flash player to play a video file with an FLV wrapper. Unfortunately, only desktop computers can play these files, leaving mobile devices with nothing to see. Over the last two years we have been working hard to change this and bring video to mobile viewers. We found early on that people wanted to watch sports, podcasts, TV shows and even movies on the go. In 2008 there was really only one choice for mobile video – archival footage on YouTube for the iPhone. Live streaming was not supported and hosting it yourself was not worth the pain. Thankfully, the landscape changed dramatically in 2009 and early 2010. We can now deliver mobile video to 100′s of millions of people in both archived and live streaming formats. Apple, Android and Blackberry Based on market share, there are three platforms you need to care about when providing mobile video. The iPhone, iPod touch, iPad, Android devices and some Blackberry phones. All these platforms handle H.264 encoded video with AAC audio in an MP4 wrapper. This is a major bonus as the MP4 wrapper is great for both the desktop web and mobile as it allows you to start playing the video before it downloads the entire file. That’s the difference of seconds over minutes to start watching a video and also keeps them from clicking elsewhere. The biggest challenge we have is what dimensions and bit rate we use for the video. Apple set the standard and the others are now following suit. The iPhone, iPad and Android all play nicely together, but some of the older Blackberry handsets need smaller video files. Here are the specs to use: H.264 video, up to 1.5 Mbps, 640 by 480 pixels, 30 frames per second, Low-Complexity version of the H.264 Baseline Profile with AAC-LC audio up to 160 Kbps, 48kHz, stereo audio in .mp4 file formats. If you have specific Blackberry phone coverage you need to meet, then we suggest you take a look at Blackberry's list of supported media types for their phones. Many of the older phones or smaller screens only support 320×240 resolution. I would also suggest you keep the bit rates closer to 650Kbps. Many cellular carriers can’t handle larger files and it will take too long to start playing the file. Note: We haven’t been able to test it yet, but the specs for Windows Phone 7 show similar support for H.264. Hosting Video for Free At this point you have a choice in how to handle delivery of the video. You can do it yourself, pay someone to host it for you, or use a free service. There are pros and cons to each. YouTube These guys have been around the mobile space the longest. They know how to do it, and as long as you upload them an H.264 video file, they will convert it to the proper formats for both desktop and mobile. There is one big caveat to YouTube though. You don’t have as much control as they are hosting it for free. Consequently, if you include copyrighted music or video from third parties, chances are their automated flagging system will pull your video down. Many news organizations have been caught out by this, even when they legally have the right to fair use. YouTube works great at no cost, just be careful building mashups pulling in other video or music. The also have the best API for automating large numbers of video in the background. Vimeo Vimeo separates itself from YouTube in several ways. It has both free and paid options (faster conversion and larger files), has above average content from a great community, and does not allow commercial video. If you are a business, you can skip this one. Back in January 2010, Vimeo announced HTML5 video support for desktops using H.264. This was a great first step that lead t[...]

Our Work: Horizon League iPhone Application

Mon, 19 Jan 2015 22:03:04 +0000

For the last month we've been working in secret to create a brand new iPhone/iPod Touch application for the Horizon League.

Horizon League Mobile provides fast access to the latest blog entries, news from other sites around the web, Twitter updates, and videos for your favorite Horizon League teams — Butler, Cleveland State, Detroit, Green Bay, Loyola Chicago, Milwaukee, UIC, Valparaiso, Wright State, and Youngstown State.

You can view the app on the iTunes website or in iTunes on your desktop or iPhone.

Our Work: Watch Games Live and On-Demand!

Mon, 19 Jan 2015 22:03:04 +0000

We teamed up with WebStream Productions to create an all new experience for fans of the Horizon League. You can watch games live or on-demand, view weekly highlight shows, keep up with Twitter, chat via Facebook and interact in the Forums. The Horizon League represents ten teams, including Indianapolis' own Butler University.


Get into the Zone When Writing for Your Website

Wed, 27 Jan 2016 04:06:18 +0000

Most people hate writing and I used to be right there with you. However, a few years ago I made some tweaks to my workflow that changed everything. Here the seven steps that I use to get into the zone — that creative flow for writing.

Find Ideas and Save Them for Later

People are extremely efficient at going through information quickly. There are two ways you can use this to your advantage. First, you can scan copious amounts of information your self in a short period of time. Second, other people already do it for you.

Personally, I scan some 400 RSS feeds and 140 people on Twitter every day. Out of that, I probably have 10-12 items that I read. Typically I save them until late at night by bookmarking, flagging in Google Reader or saving to Instapaper. Scanning, not reading, is the key here.

Once you get into a scanning mode, it’s amazing what you can process. However, sometimes it’s best to let others do it for you. Google Reader (RSS) and Twitter Search trends for shared items. Fever takes that one step further and looks for trends in your own RSS feeds so you don’t have to scan everything.

Read! Read! Read!

Now that you have those items tucked away, you can use it to build your vocabulary and style. Subconsciously, you’ll find you prefer some sites over others because of the writing style. This in-turn will guide you to your own style of writing. Having a style makes it easier to say what you want the first time.

Write More often

Nothing is worse that trying to write a letter, blog post or web page copy when you haven’t done it lately. You’ll find every excuse in the book not to do it. However, when you get into a routine, something magical happens. It becomes much easier! You’ll get in to the zone faster, create better content and make fewer corrections.

Twitter and Texting

When you are forced to keep it short, you get to the point faster and with less fluff. Instead of trying to add to the piece you are writing, ask your self, “What can I remove?”. In a world with tremendous amounts of information, you have to stay on point.

Friends and Family

If you wouldn’t say it out loud to the ones you respect, don’t write it. Having a voice is everything on the web. This will make your personality shine through and that’s what matters.

Concentration is Important

Finally, before you start writing, you need to clear your mind. There are a lot of synergies between writing and music — structure, tempo, tone, volume, etc. With the right songs I can quickly slip into a flow in just a few minutes.

Choose music with slower tempos. Personally I prefer Radiohead, Pink Floyd or Ben Folds, but it should be what works best for you. The right music will relax and calm you, and put you into the flow.

Should You Start a Blog for Your Business?

Wed, 27 Jan 2016 04:06:18 +0000

Almost every time we are engaged with a potential client, the subject of corporate blogging comes up. Sometimes the client notes a blog in their requirements, other times we suggest it for various reasons, and other times we ask the question for reaction.

Every company is different — people, customers and culture. When considering a blog for your company, there are five key things you should know.

It is a Long Term Commitment

Like most marketing efforts, blogging is a long term investment. You start slowly, trying different things. Mistakes are made, but you adjust as you go. Slowly over time you will begin to gain followers. These are people who appreciate the value you offer them. Treat them like friends or they will disappear as fast as you gain them.

Press Releases Don’t Belong

When you speak to your friends, you don’t talk about how wonderful you are all the time. You have conversations with them where they learn just a bit more about your personality each time. You also learn a lot about them. Press releases were created for people who write about your products, not the people who use them.

Traffic Doesn’t Come to You

Just like that new website or e-commerce store, people don’t know about you yet. You have to earn it. Blogging on a regular schedule and sticking to it creates a rhythm that readers enjoy. They’ll know how often to come back and won’t waste their time. When you create great content you win sneezers. Those are the people who tell their friends.

Your Competitors Will Read It

So what if they do? It just doesn’t matter. When all they do is follow your lead, you will always be ahead of the game. The better the content you create, the harder it will be for them to be original and win over readers. They’ll stress about it and waste time while you pull farther into the lead.

Only You Can Make the Difference

In the end there is only one thing that matters. You. It’s you who has a voice. It’s you they want to know. When you create a friendly dialogue you become transparent. People are fallible and so are companies. It’s OK when you make a mistake. Admit your wrong doings and explain how you will correct them.

Now that you know what to expect, let’s go back to the original question.

Should you start a blog for your business?

Yes you should, but only if you have the will, the transparency and long term vision to stick with it. Just like a friend, you must earn it.

Indianapolis Area iPhone Development Takes a Leap Forward

Wed, 27 Jan 2016 04:06:18 +0000

Last night I attended the first Indianapolis iPhone Developer meetup. A big thanks goes out to Apple. They realized the potential in the area and pulled the resources together to get the group off the ground.

TGFI and our developers have long been involved with local user groups. The Indy Ruby Brigade, the Indy .Net Developers Association, Indiana Windows User Group and the ColdFusion User Group to name a few. The shared knowledge between developers and business owners has been helpful to all involved.

However, the iPhone Dev meetup was quite different and very exciting. The buzz that Apple has around its products was in the air with passion running deep. I was expecting something highly technical when in fact, it was quite the opposite.

The first presentation was from the developer of the Loan Shark and Yowza!! applications. August walked through the apps explaining why he created them and why he made the design choices he did. He thanked Apple on several occasions for the high amount of visibility he has been given, and rightfully so. He has spent quite a bit of time on the UI and it showed. At the end we had a good Q & A session where we mostly discussed the business side of the app store.

At no time did we look at a single line of code.

The second presentation was from the developer of the GenCon application. Chris did a similar walk through with his application. He also explained a few of the 3rd party libraries he used, but we never walked through the code itself. Again this was much higher level.

We then passed the microphone around the room. It quickly became apparent that there was a wide range of people present. 50% of the room was composed of your typical developers and hardcore programers. However, it was the other half that blew me away. Many of the people had never programmed and had no intention of doing so!

There is a huge emphasis in this group on business, marketing and design. You never see that in traditional groups. This is what makes the Apple community so unique.

At the end we broke out into groups based on topic — Games, medical, new programmers, etc. It was here that I met several people with great ideas looking to get help, others looking to share their expertise, and watched people helping each other out.

Great things are coming to Indianapolis and I’m really looking forward to it. iPhone development is high on our radar and I can’t wait to get our apps into the store.

iPhone Development Update

Some of our applications are currently in the iOS App Store. Feel free to have a look at some of our publicly available iPhone development work and learn more about the work we can’t show publicly.

What is HTML 5 and Does It Matter to You?

Wed, 27 Jan 2016 04:06:18 +0000

The building blocks of code that tell your web browser how a web site looks are changing once again. Learn what you can expect from the latest specification and when you will benefit. Background There are two main versions of HTML in use today: HTML 4 and XHTML 1. In reality the two are nearly identical. Both are about 10 years old. XHTML is the strict parent that requires you to put everything away in specific order. HTML is your grandparents who forget quickly. We choose to use XHTML every day for two reasons. First, we find those strict conventions to be helpful in making the code more readable. Second, when something isn’t right, it is easier to track down the problem. In the future though, we are going to have to change. The XHTML 2 working group recently announced they have disbanded and are backing HTML 5. Don’t worry — unification is a great thing and we applaud the decision to do so. XHTML is dead. Long Live XHTML. One of the big reasons I believe the XHTML 2 working group disbanded was because the HTML 5 group has essentially adopted their style as an option. Using HTML 5 you can still retain that strict parent approach that makes it easier for designers and developers in the long run. Structure The biggest changes to HTML 5 are with respect to semantics. As designers, there are common ways we create pages for every web site. Headers, navigation, sidebars, footers and content areas. We always name them the same as it makes it easy for us to step into each other’s work. The HTML 5 specification addresses these commonalities head on by creating new tags that are what they say. The new tags include: header nav aside footer article section Not only will it make it easier for us as designers, it will make it easier for the search engines (Google, Yahoo, Bing). It takes some of the guesswork away in determining what links and content are most important on a page. You can now say “Yes, this is the article and is most important”, or “These are my main links. Please prioritize to these”. In addition to that list, there are two more tags I’ll talk about next. Video and Audio Audio has been around a while, but video is the new kid on the block for a very good reason. Studies have shown time and time again that people will watch video for far longer than they will read content or listen to someone talk. Our body language says so much about who we are and what we are trying to say. People know it, and they prefer it. The biggest set back to audio and video on web pages today is the lack of a standard way to do it. Flash is the most common way, but it requires a plugin, doesn’t work on most mobile devices, is harder to customize and can be slow. The new tags allow very clear cut ways to add audio and video to pages. You can add a poster frame (image before the video plays), easily control the player with javascript, and specify multiple file types. That last one is a very big deal. If the browser can’t play the first type of video, the browser will keep looking down the list to find one that works. Timelines The good news for website owners is that nothing is going to change on existing sites in the near future. First of all it doesn’t have to change. What works today will still work on browsers in the years to come. Second, ubiquitous browser support won’t happen for quite a while. Firefox 3.5, Safari 4 and iPhone 3.0 are the only ones that support the big video tag. All of these have been release in the last three months. Internet Explorer 8 supports only a few small items[...]

Our Work: A Win for the Small Manufacturers

Wed, 27 Jan 2016 04:06:18 +0000

The Nexpointe Supply Chain Network helps small manufacturing companies win contracts with the US Department of Defense. Many of these businesses have taken a hit in the down economy and this will only help to get them back on track.


Our Work: The Power of Food

Wed, 27 Jan 2016 04:06:18 +0000

Delco Foods is an Indiana based Italian and specialty foods distributor. It’s a fresh site that will make you hungry just by having a look around!


We were brought in by JLZ Communications to work with print designer D’Arcy Chiapetta on a new web presence for Delco Foods. Together we created a very unique site that not only looks fantastic, but provides great information that makes your mouth water.

In addition to being pleasant to the visitors, the site’s admin tool allows the marketing team to add news items and recipes, and update information as their content changes. This makes changes quick and easy without the need for TGFI to make updates for them.

Buon appetito!

How Fast Does Your Website Load?

Wed, 27 Jan 2016 04:06:18 +0000

FACT: The speed at which a page loads is directly proportional to both customer satisfaction and conversion rate.

In 2006 Google did a comparison test to show 30 results per page instead of 10. Traffic and revenue dropped by 20% despite being a change people had requested. Why was this the case? It took an additional 0.5 seconds to render the page. Speed matters.


Google knows a lot about customer browsing behavior. They know how fast a site loads versus how long a person stays on the site. They even take it into account when ranking your website for keywords. The longer a person stays on your site the better. The longer it takes to show them the content, the faster they jump ship. Late last year

Google released the Chrome web browser for Windows as an attempt to speed things up on the visitor’s end. It worked very well and lit quite a fire under web browser developers. Safari 3, Firefox 3 and IE 8 have all seen improvements in speed because of it.

The new Safari 4 beta for Mac however, has set a new bar. It’s faster than any other browser we’ve ever used. It loads some 8 times faster than IE 7.

What You Can Do to Speed Up Your Web Site

Since most people aren’t using Safari 4 and are using IE 6 or 7, here are some ways to speed up your site.

  • Make your images smaller through optimizing file size.
  • Only load what you need on a page. File sizes add up quick to slow you down.
  • Make sure your HTTP headers are setup to allow client side caching of images and scripts. This helps on future page loads.Cache your database driven pages as rendered HTML files. We use the wp-cache or wp-supercache plugin on every WordPress site we build and custom caching solutions in frameworks like Ruby on Rails.
  • Host your site close to your customers on good equipment. 25 milliseconds of latency going across the country adds up quick. Our homepage loads 19 files (the page, images, javascript, etc). That’s nearly half a second just by being close to home!

Even with the best keywords, landing page design, content and offer your conversions will suffer due to slow load times. We can help. Just give us a call.

Our Work: Redesigning the Bible

Wed, 27 Jan 2016 04:06:18 +0000

Just1Word is a small Christian non-profit with a giant goal in mind: change the way teens and young adults see the bible.


We were first contacted by Just1Word to provide some help with Ruby on Rails programming and server setup. A few weeks into the project the goals were changing and the future was looking a lot brighter.

Research shows that 14-25 year olds consume information constantly. They do it online and they do it with their friends. If you want to get their attention, you have to go where they are and passively get them involved.

We started by changing the information architecture of the Bible. We de-emphasized the reading aspect and brought forth the social. As a key differentiator from all other Bible sites, we grouped the information into thousands of new topics and stories. You’d be surprised how many strange and comical ways people died in the Bible.

They’re also keeping up with people on Facebook and Twitter. On their first day after relaunching, they gained over 1,000 followers on Twitter. People are asking questions and they’re getting great feedback. It’s a precious dialogue of trust that you just can’t buy in the offline world. They’re being rewarded for it with referrals and repeat visits many times over.

Chris has also been search engine optimizing pages to make sure that people looking for Bible verses can find what they need quickly. As of last check, Google had indexed over 60,000 pages. When we’re finished we’ll be at nearly one million pages of unique content.

The next step is developing a Facebook application to get people involved and sharing the Bible between friends.

It’s an ambitious goal, but they’re off to a great start.

How to Attract Constant Attention to Your Website

Wed, 27 Jan 2016 04:06:18 +0000

What is the most important statistic for a sales team? Is it demographics, referrals, leads or sales? With almost every company we’ve worked with it is leads. Leads already have a desire for your product or service. They want to stay in touch and learn more about how you can solve their problem. Here is a quick way to increase your targeted leads that your sales team can turn into easy wins without paying the search engines for clicks. Keyword Research The first step in generating leads is to get your company in front of the people that have a need and are ready to buy from you. At this point there are two ways we can go about this. Go after the keywords with the most traffic and most competition. Go after the keywords with less traffic and less competition. It’s the second option that powers companies like Apple, Amazon and your local real estate agent. That’s the one we want to go after. It’s much easier to be a big fish in a small pond than a small fish in a big pond. Here’s an example for the real estate agent to show the difference. Indianapolis homes for sale 1,730,000 search results 74,000 Google searches in January  2009 5 results on the first page are Indianapolis companies Zionsville homes for sale 64,300 search results 5,400 Google searches in January 2009 Only 1 result on the first page is based in Indianapolis! As you can see, Zionsville has less competition, but plenty of searches to drive leads to your website. It’s much easier to be at the top. The Landing Page and Offer Now that we have picked our keywords we need to design a new landing page to convert that visitor into a lead. It should look great and get to the point. Let’s start by picking a name for the page that includes only the keywords we are targeting: That page name is very important. On this page you’ll want to add great content such as a home search, MLS listings, the realtor’s information, contact numbers, etc. and a form to capture the visitors contact information. On the surface it looks like we have given everything away that they want. The truth is that we have something much more valuable to give them. This is the offer. When the user fills out the form they will now receive a white paper or e-book on buying homes in the Zionsville area. It contains every demographic you can imagine (schools, income level, low crime rates, mortgage companies, etc) in one easy to find document. Sure, they can find it elsewhere, but it may take 20-30 different places to find it all. You’ve just made their life easy in 1 step. Driving Traffic and Measuring Results The next step after creating your new landing pages is to get other websites to link to it. This isn’t about getting visitors from those sites to click through, but rather about building rankings in the search engines. Inbound links are the most important factor in making your web page rank at the top in Google, Yahoo and MSN. It’s a trust factor. If a lot of people link to you, you must have something important to say. Here at TGFI we maintain a list of over 2500 directories, communities and websites where we can add your link in keyword targeted pages. It’s a slow, manual process, but VERY effective in boosting rankings. Once added to these other high traffic sites, the search engines will automatically pick up your page and move yo[...]

What Should You Look for in a Web Design Firm?

Wed, 27 Jan 2016 04:06:18 +0000

There are many factors that go into choosing a web design company to work with on your next website project. Price is almost always the number one factor, and hidden costs are almost never taken into account. For you next project, slow down, take a step back and think about each of the following. Short or long term, it could save you a lot of that precious money you have to invest. Personality Matters First and foremost, you have to be compatible with the people you are going to work with. No matter how great each side is at executing, if you can’t get along and respect each other, your project will be a miserable mess and fail. There have been several times that we have chosen not to take a project because the vibe just wasn’t right. Would you grab a bite to eat or maybe a beer with them? Brutal Honesty Many companies will take any work that they can get. They’ll also sell you what you don’t need. When was the last time someone said to you “You don’t want that. It won’t work and here’s why.”? And Now for Something Completely Different Finding a company that knows the ins and outs of your industry can be very comforting. They know the language. They know the players. They might even know what works. They might also be a safe bet that only gets you the same thing as your competition. If you just mimic the other guy, you’ll never win. Go to the edge and try something new. You’ll be surprised. Strategy, Creativity and Vision Most web projects are executed to check an item off a list – “Hey look, we have a website now!” What those projects should be is part of something much bigger. A strategy. A unique creation. A vision. What other methods are you using to market your business? Print materials, billboards, hand outs, commercials, etc. A great design firm wants to know what else you are doing to make them all work for each other. Those firms then take this information and arrange the pieces into a cohesive plan. Only then will you get the most benefit for your efforts. This is how marketing works for you. Content is King In the world of the web, the only differences between businesses are the people who run them and the information they produce. The best websites have great people providing truly useful content. They also work with search engine experts to make sure that great information gets in front of the people who are looking for it. Grammar isn’t dead. It’s more important that ever. The search engines know it and you should too. Technology There are thousands of ways to build a website. Hundreds of languages, even more frameworks. Most design firms specialize in just one or two. What you really need is the right tool for the job done in a cost effective manner. Make sure you pick a vendor that can fill your needs and not shove their needs down your throat. What’s it really going to cost me? Last but not least, we’ll circle back to the cost of a project. As you may have seen from the items above, the dollar amount on the proposal is only one small piece of the puzzle. The people you work with and the choices you make together have a much greater impact in the long run. When it comes down to it, you have to get in front of the people who need you and sell them what you have. A cohesive strategy to be the best is what will make you shine at the top. [...]

Introducing the SEO Plugin for WordPress

Wed, 27 Jan 2016 04:06:18 +0000

Here at TGFI we create a lot of sites for our customers using WordPress. Only we set it up as a CMS tool so our customers can easily maintain the pages on their website and post news articles appropriately.

One of the biggest issues we’ve had is properly dealing with the simple trio of search engine optimization: titles, descriptions and keywords. There are some really good tools out there, but all of them have issues or just aren’t kept up anymore.

Lately it’s become more and more evident that we needed something custom. We were willing to pay for it, but none of the authors of those existing tools would get back to us. So, this past week we took it into our own hands. We created the SEO Plugin for WordPress.

Right out of the gate it does title, description and keyword overrides for greater control over search engine readability. We plan on adding more features, such as navigation control, in the future, so stay tuned!