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Monthly Archives: October 2015


Happy Halloween

Posted on October 30, 2015 by marty

Happy Halloween from the team at Force 5.  If still need to carve pumpkins for the holiday, please feel free to use any of these Force 5 stencils for your design.


Here are a few fun facts about Halloween...

  • In the United States, the first citywide celebration of Halloween was in Anoka, Minnesota in 1921.
  • Jack o’ Lanterns originated in Ireland where people placed candles in hollowed-out turnips to keep away spirits and ghosts on the Samhain holiday.
  • According to Irish legend, Jack O’ Lanterns are named after a stingy man named Jack who, because he tricked the devil several times, was forbidden entrance into both heaven and hell.
  • Halloween was brought to North America by immigrants from Europe who would celebrate the harvest around a bonfire, share ghost stories, sing, dance and tell fortunes.
  • Tootsie Rolls were the first wrapped penny candy in America.
  • The ancient Celts thought that spirits and ghosts roamed the countryside on Halloween night. They began wearing masks and costumes to avoid being recognized as human.
  • Halloween candy sales average about 2 billion dollars annually in the United States.
  • The fear of Halloween is known as Samhainopobia.
  • Halloween is the 2nd most commercially successful holiday, with Christmas being the first.
  • The word “witch” comes from the Old English wicce, meaning “wise woman.” 
  • Candy Corn was invented by George Renninger, a candy maker at the Wunderle Candy Company of Philadelphia in the 1880s. Candy Corn was originally called “butter cream candies” and “chicken feed” because corn was commonly used as food for livestock. After World War II, advertisers began marketing it as a special Halloween treat due to its colors that match those of the fall harvest.
  • Scottish girls believed they could see images of their future husband if they hung wet sheets in front of the fire on Halloween.
  • Girls who place the apple they bobbed for under their pillows are said to dream of their future love.
  • Agatha Christie’s mystery novel ">Halloween Party is about a girl who is drowned in an apple-bobbing tub.
  • 90% of parents admit to sneaking goodies from their kids’ Halloween trick-or-treat bags.
  • Words that www.rhymezone.com say almost rhyme with "orange": aurand, borage, corinth, cottage, florance, florence, forage, foreign, homage, knowledge, lauren, laurence, lawrence, loren, lorincz, lozenge, morons, mortgage, orand, orang, oren, orens, porridge, portage, sausage, shortage, sporran, storage, syringe, torrance, torrence, torrent, torrents, warrant, warren, zoran 



Do I Need a New Website?

Posted on October 29, 2015 by marty

Force 5 Web Design

Do you need a new website?  I surveyed the team here at Force 5, asking them each for 2 or 3 signs that someone might need to update their web presence. Some of their responses are based on functionality, some on user experience, and some on overall look-and-feel, but here are their answers:

Christian Mattix

Christian Mattix

Web Application Developer & Network Administrator

1. Your website doesn’t work on mobile devices / small screens

According to a study by Google, having a website that isn’t mobile-friendly can have a big impact on your business.  It is important that your visitors experience your website as you intended, not matter what type of device or monitor they view it on. (read more)

2. Your website uses Adobe Flash

The use of Adobe Flash in website design is quickly fading.  One reason is that Flash is not supported by Apple, so it does not work on Apple iOS devices like the iPhone and iPad, which account for about 55-60% of mobile web traffic.  Another reason for this demise is that information in Flash is not easily indexed by search engines like Google, so using Flash can have a negative effect on your website’s search rankings.

Aaron Greene

Aaron Greene

Designer & Developer

3. Your website is extremely slow to load

The time is takes for your webpages to load is important to the overall user experience, and users have indicated that they don’t have the patience for slow page loading speeds. An article at Kissmetrics reveals that:

- 47% of consumers expect a web page to load in 2 seconds or less
- 40% of people abandon a website that takes more than 3 seconds to load.
- 75% of consumers are willing to visit competitor sites instead of dealing with a slow loading page.

Additionally, search engines like Google have indicated that site speed will be factored in to their search rankings.

4. Your website isn’t built on a CMS

Most modern websites are built on Content Management Systems (CMS) platforms like Drupal or WordPress, which make it easy for you to keep information on your website current and provide your users with the most up-to-date info about your company. Search engines also look favorably on websites that continue to have fresh content.

In the past, websites were often hand-coded by a third-party web development companies, and if you ever needed any information on your website changed, you would have to you’d have to ask them (and pay them) to make the changes.

By using a CMS platform like Drupal, it is a lot easier for you to change information on existing pages, create new pages, add products, and share content.

5. Your website is still stuck in the Skeuomorphic design period

Website design seems to go through fads and phases.  What was popular a few years ago often becomes out-dated and an easily recognizable sign that your website needs to be updated.

David Morgan

David Morgan

Executive Producer & General Partner

6. Your website has animation of a construction guy and the words “Under Construction…Coming soon”

Aside from the tackiness, visitors aren't patient enough to wait until you get around to putting content on the pages.  They are looking for information, and if your website doesn't provide it, they are going to go somewhere else.

7.  Your website uses stock photography of smiling office people all looking at the camera.

Vince Vaughn The Guy who isn't as famous as Vince Vaughn

Your website is your chance to tell YOUR story and introduce YOUR people.  Don't use obvious stock photographs. Vince Vaughn and the cast of the movie Unfinished Business actually came up with a collection of image spoofing stock photos.

8. Website visitors can’t find an address or phone number or a form to fill out

Visitors want easy access to the information they need.  If they can't find what they are looking for in 2 or 3 clicks, they will move on to a competitor's site.

Beth North

Beth North

Business Developer

9. The graphic on the website home page causes nausea 

Go Bears!

Animated GIFs were fun in the 90s. Don't use them today.

10. The copyright at the bottom of the page is from > 5 years ago

An out-of-date © copyright at the bottom of the webpage is a good indication that the website has been neglected because it is usually a simple thing to update.  If visitors see a copyright that is old, it reflects poorly on your business.  If a company isn't able to keep a website current, it calls into question how much detail they put into other parts of their business.

11. The dark-haired CEO pictured on the landing page is now gray-haired, and follicly-challenged

Your website is often the first experience people have with your company. Your website is not just words on a screen; How it is designed and how it functions also leave an impression on your visitors.  How does your website stack up? If you are ready to start talking about a new website design, drop us a line, and we'll be in touch.


Mail Pouch Tobacco Barns & Harley Warrick

Posted on October 22, 2015 by marty

Mail Pouch Tobacco Barn

When I read about the 50th anniversary of President Lyndon B. Johnson signing the Highway Beautification Act, which was intended to limit billboards and other forms of outdoor advertising along federal highways, it reminded me of the iconic Mail Pouch Tobacco barns.

According to Mail Pouch barn enthusiast Eddie Robberts, farmers were willing to let Mail Pouch Tobacco paint their slogan on the side of the barn in exchange for a small amount of money, but more importantly the farmer would often have the rest of his barn painted for free.

At one time there were over 10,000 Mail Pouch barns, and a large number of them were painted by one man, Harley Warrick.  Harley started painting the Mail Pouch advertising on barns when he returned from service in World War II and spent rest of his career painting or retouching the “CHEW MAIL POUCH TOBACCO. TREAT YOURSELF TO THE BEST” slogan an estimated 20,000 times.

He did most of his work in a nine-state area that included Ohio, West Virginia, Michigan, Missouri and New York, spending up to 12 hours a day painting barns, six days a week, and then prepared paint in 5-gallon kegs on Sundays for the next week.

The Highway Beautification Act of 1965 prohibited advertising billboards within 660 feet of an interstate highway and effectively ended the era of painting the sides of barns for advertising. Though nearly all other sign painters went out of business, Warrick continued painting barns along lesser roads and highways until his retirement in 1991.  

Mail Pouch signs were eventually designated as National Landmarks and some of Harley Warrick's work has been exhibited by the Smithsonian.

Harley’s daughter Lena Williams once said, “He would always say if you could find a job that you would do without being paid, that’s what you should do.  I don’t think he really thought about it as work.  It was just what he did.” 

To find a Mail Pouch Barn near you:

Listings by County:

Listing by Map:


Take a Book. Leave a Book. (Don't Steal a Guest Book).

Posted on October 6, 2015 by marty

Our Little Free Library has been in front of the Force 5 offices for about two months now.  Our library is one of over 20,000 registered Little Free Libraries in over 70 countries.  The response in the neighborhood has been very positive, and there is always a new selection of books that have been left by the neighbors.  (Note: we always seem to run out of children's books.  If you have any unused kids books around the house, please feel free to drop them off at our office so we can put them back into circulation for more kids to enjoy.)

Unfortunately, someone took the "Take a Book. Leave a Book." mantra a little too far and decided to take our guest book, where people would leave comments.  Undeterred by the rash of small, spiral notebook crime, we have forged ahead and put "Guest Book #2" into the collection.

There always seems to be an ecclectic collection of books, including Grishham books, romance novels, self-help, and children's books.  However, one book that never seems to be "checked out" is After 50,000 Miles by Hal Roth.  Amazon describes the book as "Hal and Margaret Roth have lived aboard their cruising yacht for many years, travelling over 50,000 miles across the oceans of the world, and facing many practical problems. This book provides information that anyone contemplating a life of sea-going adventure should consider before setting out."  Sounds like a good book to check out.

The original goal of the Little Free Library movement was to create 2,150 Little Libraries (which would surpass the number of libraries founded by Andrew Carnegie), and now there are almost ten times that number of registeed Little Free Libraries.  The Little Free Library is a great idea that was started by two guys in Hudson, Wisconsin that clearly resonates with people.

For more information, visit www.littlefreelibrary.org




How Unsettling is Your Mobile?

Posted on October 5, 2015 by marty

I recently wrote a post about the importance of having a mobile-friendly website.  I have created a dashboard in Google Analytics to see how your mobile traffic stacks up against your desktop traffic.  If your mobile traffic doesn't fare well against your desktop traffic, you might need to look at making the website more responsive.

To download the GA dashoboard, go to: https://www.google.com/analytics/web/template?uid=AeP-Hr5wRvSvOgaY68SshA

How important is Mobile traffic?

First, get a sense of how much traffic comes to your website from different device categories:

For this website, 53.4% of the traffic comes from desktop and 46.6% comes from mobile and tablet.  With almost half of the traffic coming from mobile and tablet, you want to make sure that the website is responsive to those devices.

Engagement on Different Devices

For most websites, I prefer to use Pages per Session as a basic tool to judge engagement on the website.  We see that people using desktops view 33% more pages per session than they do on mobile (6.33 pages vs. 4.76 pages).

Bounce rate is another tool you can use to gauge the mobile experience.  The Bounce Rate is essentially the percentage of people that view one page and leave the website.  While the bounce rate on mobile is usually always higher than that on desktop, it is important to determine how much higher.  In this case, the bounce rate on mobile is 30.9% higher than on desktop (67.50% vs. 51.57%).

Goal Conversion Rate is also a very important metric to look.  In this case, a person on mobile is 40% less likely to convert (8.27% vs. 13.78%).

By using this dashboard, you can judge how the mobile traffic compares to your desktop traffic.  If you see a need to improve the mobile expereince, please feel free to contact us at Force 5 or call us at (574) 234-2060.