9 Smart Ways to Max out Your Year-End Budget

Having too much money sounds like a wonderful problem for a small business to have, but this can actually be a bit of a bind. If companies fail to use up their budget by the end of the year, they might find themselves short-changed in the new year. But spend it on the wrong things, and you could find yourself in hot water in the next quarter.

So what should you do?

Marketing your business now will pay off in 2015. Choose from our ideas below to utilize the last of 2014’s marketing dollar for profit in the coming year.

1. Redesign your current site

Websites should be redesigned every 4 years, minimum. We always build with the newest technology, but that doesn’t mean that sites we did a few years ago are still selling well. Make sure you’re not bleeding leads with an old, outdated website.


2. Get a free month with annual support billing

If you’re going to be on our support plan next year, you might as well pay upfront and get the benefits. Not only does it utilize your end-of-year marketing dollar, but you also get the 12th month free.


3. Choose a higher plan with more design hours

Silver plans and higher benefit from included design and development hours every month. If you’re a savvy site owner, you can use this time to update your graphics, layout, software, and even your content (we do blog writing!) – this keeps your site fresh, and feeds those Google Rankings.


4. Get a reputation face-lift with GatherKudos

One bad review can immobilize a business. For just $29 a month, you can implement a strategy to stop bad feedback before it becomes a review, and help your business to get better reviews, constructive feedback, and ultimately, more sales.


5. Why wait? Use PPC to get instant business

OpenPotion now does Pay Per Click (PPC) Management! We have expert resources (his name is Cody) to get you more leads, more business, more profit. Be quick, we only work with one client per vertical and market – don’t let your competitor sign up first.


6. Get your social media accounts in line

We do business account setup to get your social media where it needs to be. Whether you have stale accounts, or need a whole new strategy, we can get you configured so it’s easier to stay social.


7. Increase your blogging efforts

If your blogging efforts amount to a few dreary articles a month, you’re wasting the benefit of one of the best tools on your website. OpenPotion has an in-house writing team that can create sales-effective content, delivered fresh to your inbox (or straight onto your blog) whenever you need it, so your site stays active and popular.


8. Prime your print media with better graphics

Just because it’s printed, doesn’t mean it’s timeless. Whether you’re a networking genius or a strategic socialite, you probably have some of your old business cards kicking around, causing you grief. Let our in-house design team revamp your graphics and get you back on the A-list.


9. Get your freebie consultation with Helen

Ok, this one doesn’t use any of your marketing budget, but it’s still totally worth it. Book a free time with Helen (Jason’s personal assistant and author of this fabulous newsletter) to go through your current site and identify areas for improvement. She’ll be here all week, folks.


Hot Tech Trends: How Will the iPhone 6 Affect Web Design?

Last week, Apple fans around the planet erupted into a frenzy as the technology behemoth released its newest iPhones, the iPhone 6 and the iPhone 6 Plus. Yes, I’ll admit, a good deal of the OpenPotion staff was glued to the live feed too, and we giddily exchanged messages back and forth about the latest features: a notably larger screen, Apple Pay, new imaging capabilities, and much more. While it was great fun to drool over the new devices and dream about getting our hands on one of the tech world’s hottest new toys, I had to ask myself, “How will the iPhone 6 change the world of web design?”

Sure, it might seem like a bit of a stretch, but remember, Apple was the company that brought smartphones to the masses, made Adobe Flash nearly obsolete, and was one of the loudest champions of HTML5. The impact of one little phone might not seem relevant, but with more than 500 million of these devices sold over the course of the past few years, savvy webmasters should certainly be asking themselves how their online destination could be impacted by the new release.

Responsive, Responsive, Responsive

For website owners who’ve opted to adopt a responsive design for their site, the good news is that the iPhone 6 should have little impact at all. That’s because responsive sites are specifically geared to “respond” to the browser of each unique visitor. How a site appears on an iPhone 6 Plus, iPad, or a desktop computer shouldn’t differ. Instead, responsive design allows the user experience to remain constant.  While this is encouraging news for some site owners, it’s undeniable that the new phones will make their mark in other ways.

Increased Local Searches

The Internet already marked a substantial milestone earlier this year, when mobile web usage officially surpassed traditional desktop browsing. For local business owners, this metric isn’t merely interesting to note—it’s essential. The majority of all local searches take place on smartphones like the iPhone 6, and research has shown that web users rely heavily on the reviews a site has amassed to determine its legitimacy and value. With faster LTE browsing and a longer battery life, Apple’s new phones will likely boost mobile browsing further than ever before.

If you’re still struggling to get over the impact of negative reviews on your Yelp, Google Plus, or Yahoo! Local account, consider investing in a solution like GatherKudos. This innovative tool makes it easy to filter bad reviews before they ever make it to your site—and best of all, you can easily funnel the right kind of reviews to the places that matter.

Developing Fully-Functional Websites

Earlier in this millennium, mobile websites were seen as an afterthought. Many sites didn’t offer the same dynamic features as their desktop counterparts, and some destinations weren’t accessible at all on the small screen. If the insatiable appetite for the new iPhone 6 Plus reveals anything, it’s that modern consumers are eager to purchase large devices that can take the place of their computer in many applications. For web designers and business owners, never has it been more important to create a site that caters to the users of such devices.

While the full impact of the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus remains yet to be seen, there’s little question Apple has another winner on its hands. If you’re a site owner wondering if your online destination can keep up with the influx of mobile users, get in touch with us today to learn more about our comprehensive design packages. We’re industry leaders in developing responsive, attractive sites that accomplish real results.

Adam Zetterlund

– Adam, Content Wizard

Casual Friday in a Virtual Office: Silly Chrome Extensions

Starr Bryson

When you work for a virtual company, chances are that every day is casual Friday. I’ll be the first to admit that I work in my pajamas most weekdays. It’s one of the perks of working from home (not to mention my short commute). So what can a virtual company do to mirror the popular Casual Friday of an office job?

Introducing . . . Fun Friday.


Instead of dressing down or wearing jeans, Fun Friday is a day for those of us who work remotely from home to indulge in a little bit of silliness.

Chrome has many helpful and useful extensions to make you more productive, assist you in your work, and help you stay focused. Some even block ads and add security to your computer. But today isn’t about working harder, it’s about having fun. Let’s take a look at the some of the wacky, silly, and fun extensions Chrome has to offer us to bring a smile to our faces and give us a laugh.

Website Destroyer

Website Destroyer

This is perfect for anyone who needs to blow off steam. Are you a designer, frustrated with your latest graphic? Are you a writer, struggling through your Friday and the words just won’t come? Download this extension and start blowing up your screen. A fun way to virtually destroy any computer screen with your choice of weapons. Pick from a machine gun, shotgun, stamp, hammer, and flamethrower and start obliterating.



This hilarious extension adds a mustache to every photo on a website. With this add-on, every website you look at on a Friday will erupt in giggles.



Fans of this popular meme will enjoy this extension, but even non-fans will smile at this cute dog’s face popping up on every webpage exclaiming things like, “so much doge” and “lots free actually”.

Jailbreak the Patriarchy


This extension allows you to view the world in a gender swapped parallel universe. It switches every “she” for “he” and “his” for “hers”. You might confuse yourself with this one, but you’ll laugh yourself silly.

With all of these silly extensions, you’ll have a lot of fun this Friday . . . but don’t forget to get your work done.

Are you looking for a web designer? OpenPotion Web Design builds incredibly effective websites (and awesome relationships). Call us today to find out what we can do to help you create more business and get more leads with your website.

I love the work we do here at OpenPotion, and here’s why you should too.

HelenChances are, if you’re a current client or you’ve called our number in the last three months, you’ve have the pleasure of hearing my adorable British accent. For those who haven’t, hello I’m Helen – Jason’s new assistant (and secondary brain), and I’m here to do a quick blog about why I truly believe in OpenPotion web design. OK, maybe it’s going to be less than quick, I apologize in advance for this…

All Over the World

We’re a virtual company, which is a strange concept to everyone, and sometimes even me. My morning commute is down the hallway, past the TV and couch, and into the sunroom that doubles as my office. My suit and tie is actually a raggedy old pair of pajama bottoms and comfy sweater. My in-house office mates are two domestic shorthair cats called Professor T. J. Snuggles and Melon. Yep, I work from home, and I love it. At OpenPotion Web Design, we all work from home, and it’s really effective. Despite being thousands of miles from each other, I’ve never felt closer to my co-workers. Take Esteban, our Project Manager – he lives in Bolivia, but it sometimes feels like he’s actually peeking over my shoulder, making sure I’m focusing on the right jobs for the day. And Starr – we have so many collaborative meetings about content that I sometimes almost invite her out for a drink ‘after work’. We have people who work in Pacific time, Eastern time, and even in time zones I have no hope of ever understanding. The fact is, it works for us, and it’s all down to who we work for. With Jason’s help making sure we have nothing but awesome clients, we’ve built OpenPotion into a company that you can’t help but love.

Website Design Full of Openness

We use this phrase a lot. Our name, OpenPotion, isn’t just a name – it’s who we are and what we do. We believe in openness, both in how we communicate (yes, I’ll tell Jason if my lateness is due to one too many glasses of wine) and also in how we build your site. We don’t do cookie-cutters, we won’t tell you “Sorry, that’s just how it is”, and we certainly won’t tell you something isn’t possible without checking every avenue first. We want you to love your site each time you visit it and we want it to be effective at its job, and we’ll be open with you so we can achieve it.

Why We’ve Sort of Become the Experts of Building Property Management Websites

Sometimes I don’t believe Jason could be as young as he says he is, because of the extensive list of things he has done already with his life. I’ll let you ask him about that, but one of the many things he knows a lot about is property management, and boy, does he know a lot! I’ll tell you a secret – I knew NOTHING about property management companies before starting work with OpenPotion. I knew how to pay my rent on time as a tenant, and I could write up a fairly decent maintenance complaint when I needed to, but the Real Property Management world was new to me. Then I got hired as Jason’s assistant, and within three months I was writing articles for clients on how to maximize their rate of return on rental properties, and advising clients on the advantages and disadvantages of Appfolio and Propertyware. This is all thanks to the knowledge held within Jason’s brain, and his unique and strangely effective training sessions with us. Seriously, test him out – he’d take first place at any Property Management trivia night (if such a thing existed).

My Performance Review

It’s been three months pretty much to the day since I logged in to the OpenPotion system for the first time and was introduced to my new co-workers, and every day is still a thrill ride. If this was any old office job, right about now I’d be in some cold meeting room discussing progress points, weaknesses, and objectives, and setting generic targets to appease the mighty paperwork gods… but I’m not. Instead I’m working for one of the most talented CEOs I’ve ever met, with some of the most focused colleagues and honestly, some of the most awesome clients you could hope for (some of you are downright hilarious), and I couldn’t be happier.

So, want to hear the accent? Go on, give me a call!

Avoid the Potential Pitfall in Property Management Website Design

Property management website design is its own category, and it’s one we specialize in.

Many firms are now turning to excellent cloud or web-based solutions such as Propertyware, Buildium, or Appfolio to manage their rentals, accounting, rent collection, etc. They have an excellent solution, and the purpose of this article is not to dissuade you from using their tool. These firms also provide a website portal to property management companies, and we want you to understand why your best option is to not use it as your primary website. So why would a company want their own website rather than just using the one provided by their property management solution?

How can having an ‘all-in-one’ solution be dangerous? Read on to find out!

(Don’t want to read it all? We know you’re busy – just call us and we will explain it to you… 909-748-5882)

Why Keep Your Website Independent of Your Property Management Solution

It is dangerous to have your site and your property management tool provided by the same firm.

  • You will be shelling out plenty of money for SEO, but receiving services by a company that is not an SEO expert
  • You will be spending money on a site you do not have total control over
  • You will have no freedom in who you choose as your marketing firm
  • You won’t be able to use other online property management tools without having to start a new site with them from scratch
  • Any changes in direction will cost you more money, possibly messing up your existing rankings and sabotaging the marketing you have already done

The disadvantages of having your site and your property management tool provided by the same firm:

  • These portal providers are not website experts – their site templates simply aren’t as good at conversions (turning visiting property owners into clients)
  • These property management solution providers are great at what they primarily focus on, but they are not SEO, SEM, or internet marketing specialists.
  • As you grow and mature in your marketing efforts you may eventually realize you want to try out other marketing firms, but you can’t!
  • Their provided web portals are locked down, preventing you from backing up your site, moving it, getting FTP access, or allowing the marketing firm of your choice to do serious SEO work
  • Once you are in bed with one tool that you use for your website, it will be painful to switch to another web tool, especially if you had been paying them thousands to have their in-house SEO team work on their own portal. Switching to another tool would likely have you starting from scratch, and will hurt your existing website rankings.

Is there a better way?

Yes! Your property management tool, Appfolio, Buildium, or Propertyware can be integrated into your own website without it BEING your website. This is the best of both worlds and the ultimate win-win. We specialize in doing just that, and we have some of the top residential management firms in the nation… the smartest firms choose us. We provide an independent website and integrate the rental listings, tenant application, owners portal, etc. from your tool of choice. We don’t try to duplicate what these property management tools do, instead we compliment them and work with them.

Why Would You Rather Use OpenPotion for your Website?

  • We build your site on an open-source CMS (Content Management System). This means greater options for the future and freedom. Thousands of add-ons have already been written to plug into CMS systems, thousands of template designs and themes have been created, you can easily make changes to text on your web pages, and SEO firms can do more work in less time.
  • You have full control. We provide the marketing firm of your choosing with whatever access you want to give them, even full FTP and administrator access.
  • We are marketers first! We focus on making sites that sell and are easy to use. We specialize in start-ups and branding. We can save you hundreds of thousands of dollars in lost business by avoiding branding pitfalls, so your company isn’t swimming upstream.
  • Your site will have greater functionality. You can have us add additional tools into your site, such as a photo gallery of remodeling work, or an event calendar for trade shows and community events, a blog, video tours of properties, your Twitter feed… the sky is the limit.
  • Multiple integration possibilities. Find better rates for credit card processing somewhere other than your property management tool? You can use one tool for collecting payments and another tool for showing properties, you don’t have to use the property management solution for everything. We can integrate multiple tools into our CMS property management websites. Just another money saving factor to consider.
  • We’ll be your secret weapon. Many of our clients consider us their secret weapon in battling their competition.
  • Easily switch or ditch your property management solution. Eventually if you tire of their service we can replace much of it with available website software.
  • We’ve earned a lot of trust. We are trusted by some of the largest and most successful residential property management businesses throughout the nation. Just check out our website design portfolio to see our work.

Even a just little bit curious as to why so many smart property management business owners are choosing OpenPotion? All you have to do is simply talk to us and you will quickly understand why.

Contact OpenPotion to get started.

PropertyWare, Buildium, Appfolio are are Trademarks of their respective companies and OpenPotion, Inc. is in no way affilliated with them.

Get Your Free Local Business Listing on Google Places in 6 Simple Steps

OpenPotion on Google PlacesA Google business listing is a powerful tool… more useful than Yellow Page ads, and it is completely free. Read on to find out how to take control of your Google business listing and start getting more web traffic.

Many of us use online tools such as Google Maps to find local businesses. Have you looked up your business lately? For example, if you are a sign company in Orange County, what comes up when people search for “signs in Orange County” – is it you? How do you look compared to the competition? Do you even have a website?

Some people charge businesses to do this for them… which is silly since it is easy and free.

Here is how to create or update your listing for the first time…

  1. Navigate to http://www.google.com/local/add to get to the Google Local Business Center. This is where you will manage your business listing
  2. Register for a Google account if you do not have one (this is also free, and takes under a minute)
  3. Sign in to the Google Local Business Center
  4. Follow the prompts… Provide as much information as possible, including images and categories
  5. Google will then verify your listing by phone or postcard, to make sure you are actually authorized to be making changes to that business
  6. That’s it! Now that was pretty painless (if not, give me a call), and maybe even worth thousands of dollars to your business – not bad for a couple of minutes of your time!

Want to do more to improve the ranking of your new website? Check out our suggestions below for quick, simple, and free ways to boost your online presence and get in front of even more potential customers:
To really outshine your competition, your business listing needs a few things:

  • A link to your website so they can find out more about your business.
  • An image that strengthens your branding and helps them remember you, or that portrays a positive emotion.
  • Positive testimonials – send the link of your business listing to your happy clients so they can add a review.
  • A large list of categories that fit what you do.

And make sure you do these things:

  • Remove any old listings with old addresses or phone numbers, or any outdated information
  • Include your full business address and phone number as text at the bottom of your website
  • If you have several locations add (or take control of) each location as a separate listing.
  • If your major competitor has a site, but you do not, users will likely be drawn to their business, because we all want to find out more before calling – and that can translate into lost business. Your website is your 24 hour employee, brochure, salesperson, and online storefront/office. If built properly a website can easily save you over $20,000/year on employee costs if it is customized to alleviate some of your tedious business tasks. Not only that, but by including your website address in your other marketing efforts, it makes them increasingly powerful.

Are you STILL yearning for more tips on how to boost your website? Check out these resources:

Google’s user guide for Google Places

How to add a company page in LinkedIn

Setting up your business page on Google+

Schedule a time with us – OpenPotion knows how to grow your website!

Any other ideas on how to maximize your listing? Let us know in the comments.

Joomla vs Drupal vs Wordpress

Why We Choose Joomla Over Drupal & WordPress

In the world of Content Management Systems there is some serious competition.  We often get asked why we choose Joomla for some projects rather than other leading open-source CMS systems like Drupal and WordPress.  Well… here is why…

Deciding Between Three Great Choices – The Showdown

First, let’s take a look at a competition that was performed between the 3 CMS’s… the “SXSW Web Content Management System Showdown.”  Three teams competed to build a community website with the same requirements.  Here’s the results:

Drupal Joomla WordPress
Total Hours 79.25 57.25 90.5
Hours spent on front end 21.75 15 36.5
HTML Validation No (8 errors) Yes No (8 errors)
CSS Validation No (7 errors) No (1 error) No (21 errors)
Page weight 180K 140K 154K
Lines of custom PHP/JS code 220 30 1,808

So what does this breakdown tell you?

First let me point out that the most expensive thing clients pay for is custom code or custom graphic design.  WordPress, while having a friendly and pretty backend, can be incredibly costly and took nearly twice the amount of time to make a similar Joomla site.  That is twice the cost to you the client.  Wordpress is king of it’s original specialty… blogging websites, where it likely would have been a solid competitor of Joomla and likely toasted Drupal.  Bottom-line, Joomla is a nice blend between the versatility of and ease of the two competitors, and therefore usually needs less custom coding, and saves you money.

Drupal vs. Joomla

Drupal is excellent for complex databases or projects that would likely require custom programming, no matter what CMS you tried. For most users, however, Drupal is like using a flamethrower to roast a marshmallow. So let’s take WordPress out of the equation and compare Drupal and Joomla  I should point out that even though Drupal’s stat’s were below Joomla’s above, Drupal took 1st place at the PAKT CMS Awards last year, while Joomla took second, so Drupal is a serious competitor.

Alledia.com presented a fair breakdown/comparison of the two CMS’s out-of-the-box.  This comparison is a bit dated, but highlights some major differences.  This however was a silly comparison because Drupal is instantly out-shined by Joomla and Joomla’s flaws are instantly removed by adding a few add-ons that are freely available.  This is the beauty of Joomla.  In fact by installing a single free extension, K2, a CCK (content construction kit), Drupal is instantly brought to its knees.

The Unqualified IBM “Expert”

Now here is an article showcasing a comparison between Joomla and Drupal from the view of an IBM Consultant looking for an enterprise level solution.  He favors Drupal, even while pointing out glaring flaws such as “Drupal’s backend admin functionality is bad. The front end, backend separation is tenuous and confusing. Joomla is far better.”  He also admits Joomla wins in templates and he says about the learning curve, “Joomla is far easier to get up and running.  Even with all the free videos, blogs, etc, Drupal is still a lot more challenging.”  Also read the comments below that article and you will see all the programmers that favor Drupal.  I imagine his choice would have been different had he used Joomla with K2, a powerful and free CCK.

How to choose?  Are you a website programmer or a website design client?

Drupal is favored by programmers and coders, which is why it took first place in the CMS awards, but remember they (programmers) want to do lots of programming… that’s how they get paid!  Custom programming/coding and custom graphic design work are the two greatest factors that increase website design costs.  The competition between the two gets even more ridiculous when you look at templates (graphical layouts and designs) that are available for the two.  Joomla wins hands down.  Using Joomla we are able to eliminate 99% of custom coding and graphic design, saving you lot’s of time and money.  So while Joomla may not be the tech-nerdy piece of code chosen by programmers, it wins for you the consumers.  So unless you are a programmer, you will love having a Joomla site and when the time comes to add functionality you will find it much cheaper to do so, since an add-on has already likely been written.

In a nutshell, WordPress is the easiest out-of-the box to administer, Drupal is the choice of coders and nerds, and Joomla is the most versatile and least expensive.  For complex projects, with a few free tools, it easily beats its competitors…

UPDATE: Our friends over at CompasDesigns posted on article with a simple chart for deciding which one to use:


So why do we choose Joomla?

When we choose Joomla for a project it is usually because the project requires a greater level of complexity and layout and it requires less programming than WordPress or Drupal to make that happen.

Interested in a website project?

If so, contact us now

ps – watch how upset the fanboys, aligned with each CMS, get in the comments below!