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Force 5 Awarded Fifteenth Best iPad App Development Company by bestwebdesignagencies.com for October 2013

Tuesday, October 15th, 2013 by Force 5

Force 5, South Bend, IN – a next generation brand development and marketing communications firm, has been named the fifteenth best iPad app development company by bestwebdesignagencies.com for October 2013. 

South Bend, IN – Force 5, a next generation brand development and marketing communications firm, has been announced as the fifteenth best iPad app development company by bestwebdesignagencies.com for the month of October 2013.

“We are very pleased with this recognition.” said Deb DeFreeuw, President of Force 5. “Offering our clients new and effective tools for sales and marketing is always one of our goals. We pride ourselves in thinking through the development process while keeping the client’s objectives in mind. Being recognized for providing high quality applications validates our commitment to quality.”

bestwebdesignagencies.com has listed Force 5 in the rankings of the best iPad app development companies due to their exceptional performance during the proprietary evaluation process. A team of researchers have spent time and resources to ensure that Force 5 provides effective iPad development solutions. Force 5 was selected for the rankings out of hundreds of companies claiming to offer iPad development as a part of their line of services. Their continued development towards improving internal processes and providing high quality iPad applications for their clients ensures their position in the rankings and in the evaluation process.

The process for researching and selecting the top services offering iPad app development services involves a thorough analysis of the primary strengths of each contesting web design agency. The five criteria of analysis associated with successful iPad app development campaigns include application acceptance, design, customer support, bug testing, and development quality. The results of the analysis process are used to establish the position of services on the ratings

Force 5, based in South Bend, IN is a next generation brand development and marketing communications firm with experienced and certified account, project management, and technical staff. Force 5 has designed IPad and IPhone apps for the medical and retail segment over the past two years. Force 5 can be contacted at http://www.discoverforce5.com

http://www.bestwebdesignagencies.com is an online organizer of independent reviews and ratings. The rankings of the top mobile development agencies are released monthly to assist businesses in connecting with iPad app development agencies which feature a history of effective solutions. Thousands of mobile development agencies are put to the test while only the absolute best agencies are featured in the rankings.

A Force 5 Client in the News – Tobacco Free St. Joseph County

Tuesday, January 11th, 2011 by Force 5

Tobacco Free St. Joseph County website

Recently in the local news WNDU reported how the “Freedom from Smoking” program started last week. The report was based off of the Tobacco free program in St. Joseph County which is involved in helping the public stop smoking.

Tobacco Free of St. Joseph County has been a client of Force 5’s for over a year now. Force 5 recently produced a website for Tobacco Free to help communicate its mission for a smoke free lifestyle.

To learn more about the Tobacco Free program please visit KickTobacco.org.

Source: WNDU

Force 5 re-affirms Safe Harbor Certification for Third Year

Tuesday, December 28th, 2010 by Force 5

South Bend, IN , December 28, 2010– Force 5, a brand development and marketing communications firm located in South Bend, IN, today announced that its Privacy Policy has been certified for compliance for the third year with the Safe Harbor Principles of the U.S. Department of Commerce.

In October 1998, the European Commission’s Directive on Data Protection went into effect. This directive prohibits the transfer of personal data to non-European Union nations that do not meet the European “adequacy” standard for privacy protection. To provide a streamlined means for U.S. companies to comply with the Directive, the U.S. Department of Commerce, in consultation with the European Commission, developed the Safe Harbor principles. Approved by the EU in 2000, Safe Harbor provides a framework for U.S. companies to ensure compliance and avoid experiencing interruptions in their business dealings with the EU.

David Morgan, Vice President at Force 5 stated that Force 5 conforms to all Safe Harbor principles.  “Force 5’s compliance with the Safe Harbor principles shows its dedication to its global clients”, he said. “As the processor of personal information from around the globe, our adherence to Government safe harbor practices gives our clients peace of mind regarding our data collection and protection policies.  We are pleased to be one of only 35 companies in the state that have completed this certification process.”

Force 5’s Safe Harbor Privacy Policy is now officially registered with the U.S. Department of Commerce, and is publicly accessible on the company’s website here:  http://www.discoverforce5.com/assets/Safe-Harbor.html

More information on Safe Harbor can be found here: http://www.export.gov/.

About Force 5
Located in South Bend, In, Force 5 is a next generation brand development and marketing communications firm-the only one of its kind in the region. The principals are certified brand strategists, two of only a handful in the country, and they have an experienced and certified account, project management, and technical staff.  For more information, please visit our website at www.Discoverforce5.com.

Prevent Duplicate Content

Thursday, December 9th, 2010 by Force 5

Having duplicated content within search engines is a very common problem that is often overlooked. You would think having duplicated content will be good for your search rankings, although that is not the case as it may be not useful to the end-user.

www-vs-non-www (Problem)

Search engines recognize your www.your-domain.com and your-domain.com as two separate websites. You may not be penalized by having multiple results although you can improve the efficiency for end-users combing through the search results. In addition, if you have a single convention of your domain usage people linking to your site can improve your link backs.

www-vs-non-www (Solution)

Since search engines track these as separate sites you need to pick either your www domain or the non-www domain. You still want both versions active although what you want to do is to create a 301 Permanent Redirect to your desired domain. For example, http://discoverforce5.com will redirect your browser to http://www.discoverforce5.com. By performing a 301 Permanent Redirect you are telling search engines not to store/index the redirected content for that page/location.

One thing to not forget is that you make sure you allow your website URL paths to be included during the 301 Permanent Redirect process. For example, http://discoverforce5.com/Media-Hub/ will send the end-user to http://www.discoverforce5.com/Media-Hub/. As you see it makes sure to send the end-user to their original desired page.

ASP.NET Code Example:

In this example we want to use the www domain as the main convention and redirect the non-www domain. The code below you see we grab the current domain and the URL path the request was made. We then check to see if the domain includes the www, if not, we perform the 301 Permanent Redirect.

// get server name/domain
string sDomain = Request.Url.Host.ToString().ToLower(); // i.e. discoverforce5.com 
// get url path
string sPath = Request.RawUrl.ToString();
// check if www is in the server name
if (!sDomain.Contains("www."))
{
    // server name does not contain www - proceed with 301 Permanent Redirect
    Response.RedirectPermanent("http://www." + sDomain + sPath);
}

Apache Server Example:

With Apache servers this process is easier with utilizing the .htaccess functionality. Below you will see the Apache server equivalent to the ASP.NET example above.

RewriteEngine On
RewriteCond %{HTTP_HOST} ^discoverforce5\.com$ [NC]
RewriteRule ^(.*)$ http://www.discoverforce5.com/$1 [R=301]

Inconsistent Linking

Try to keep internal and external page links to your content consistent. For example, don’t link to http://www.discoverforce5.com/Services/ and http://www.discoverforce5.com/Services and http://www.discoverforce5.com/Services/Default.aspx as all three examples are different.

If you are interested in learning about how to submit your site to search engines feel free to read “The little things to not forget about during development [Part: 2]“.

Have any SEO needs or questions? Please give Force 5 a call.

Pin sites to your taskbar

Monday, October 18th, 2010 by Force 5


With the recent release of Microsoft Internet Explorer 9 beta you are now able to see the work that has gone into a browser that has not seen much forward development in meeting web standards or rendering speeds compared to its rivals (Opera, Firefox, & Google Chrome). Microsoft has even launched BeautyOfTheWeb.com website showcasing the new features and abilities.

One of the new features that I believe will be really useful for some users is pinning the website to the Windows taskbar. By pinning the website to the taskbar the end-user will have the ability to go to a site quickly without having to open up the web browser and finding the link in favorites/bookmarks area. One of the better examples where this feature can excel at is from USA Today. By pinning this site you are able to get quick links to all the different news sections (news, money, sports, life, & tech).

What do I need to do to add it?

The only basic prerequisite is that your website should have a favicon. That way aesthetically your pinned site will be branded appropriately. Code wise you will need to add at minimum two <meta> elements inside of the <head> section of your web page.

First, add your application-name. For example, we’ll enter “Force 5” into the content attribute.

  • <meta name="application-name" content="Force 5"/>

Second, add an msapplication-task. The content attribute is broken up into a couple sections. The name parameter is the label you want to appear; in this case we will enter “Discover Force 5“. The action-uri parameter is where we want to send the end-user; in this case we will enter “http://www.discoverforce5.com/”. The next step is optional; you can enter your favicon to the icon-uri parameter. Lastly, just repeat these steps to add more “tasks”.

  • <meta name="msapplication-task" content="name=Discover Force 5;
                    action-uri=http://www.discoverforce5.com/;
                    icon-uri=http://www.discoverforce5.com/favicon.ico"/>

Example with multiple tasks:

    <meta name="application-name" content="Force 5"/>
    <meta name="msapplication-task" content="name=Discover Force 5;
                action-uri=http://www.discoverforce5.com/;
                icon-uri=http://www.discoverforce5.com/favicon.ico"/>
    <meta name="msapplication-task" content="name=Media Hub;
                action-uri=http://www.discoverforce5.com/Media-Hub/;
                icon-uri=http://www.discoverforce5.com/favicon.ico"/>
    <meta name="msapplication-task" content="name=Employee Blogs;
                action-uri=http://www.force5blog.com/;
                icon-uri=http://www.force5blog.com/favicon.ico"/>

Next: pin your site

After saving your changes, go to your web page with the new code above.

  1. Grab your favicon by dragging it to the taskbar.
  2. Pin favicon to your taskbar.
  3. Site is successfully pinned!
  4. Click on your new pinned task icon and go some where.

Even though IE9 is still in beta it is good to see Microsoft bringing new features to the table. If you feel like trying out IE9 today, click here.

Hide IIS7 Response Headers

Thursday, September 16th, 2010 by Force 5

What are Response Headers?

Response headers is data that gets sent from the server to the browser. The data can include date & time, content type (ex: text/html, text/javascript), and server information (ex: Microsoft-IIS/7.0).

Why is it important to hide them?

Security. At the most basic level it will not broadcast what operating system the web server is and which version it is whether it is a Microsoft IIS web server or an Apache PHP web server.

Here is an example of what information is passed back to the browser:

Notes: This was complete on a Windows 2008 web server with IIS 7. One prerequisite we noticed is that you may need to install the IIS 6 Metabase Compatibility tool.

Steps to hide Response Headers in IIS:

  1. Download & Install UrlScan
  2. Configure UrlScan.ini settings
    • Open UrlScan.ini with Notepad (run as administrator).
      • C:\%OS-Directory%\System32\inetsrv\urlscan\UrlScan.ini
    • Change RemoveServerHeader value
      • RemoveServerHeader=1
  3. Editing Machine.Config settings file
    • This next edit you will need to make on each ASP.NET Framework version that you currently run. For example, Force 5 has applications that run ASP.NET version 2.0 & 4.0.
    • You will need to add this configuration setting to each Machine.Config file inside the <system.web> section.
      <system.web>
           <httpRuntime enableVersionHeader="false" />
            .....
      </system.web>

    • An important note, if you do not access to the Machine.Config files you can make this same change to your Web.Config file inside your individual website. The only difference is that you will need to include this setting in each website. Whereas the Machine.Config file will make this change global across the web server.
    • You can find your .NET Framework versions and Machine.Config files in either of these two directories:
      • C:\%OS-Directory%\Microsoft.NET\Framework
      • C:\%OS-Directory%\Microsoft.NET\Framework64
  4. Editing php.ini configuration settings (skip this step if you do not have PHP installed)
    1. Locate and open up your php.ini file
    2. Scroll down until you locate “expose_php
    3. Set expose_php = Off
  5. Restart IIS.
    • After restarting IIS and reviewing the changes you will notice all of the Server Response Headers no longer show.

Just a quick recap of what we just did:

  • Steps 1 & 2, only removes the “Server: Microsoft- IIS/{version}”  response header.
  • Steps 3 & 4, removes the actual ASP.NET & PHP version response header (example: X-AspNet-Version: 2.0.50727) from being displayed.

If you have any questions please feel free to leave a comment below or to contact us.

How-to: 301 Permanent Redirect with ASP.NET 4 – Response.RedirectPermanent()

Friday, July 9th, 2010 by Force 5

During the process of migrating development over to the .NET 4 Framework there have been noticeable improvements.

One of the newest improvements is used quite often, Response.RedirectPermanent(). This new feature does a permanent redirection from a requested URL to a specified URL.

For a quick flashback to how this was previously completed review the code below:

/*
 * Previous 301 Permanent Redirect
 * */
Response.Status = "301 Moved Permanently";
Response.AddHeader("Location", "NewPage.aspx");

How you implement the new 301 Permanent Redirect is simply Response.RedirectPermanent(“URL-path-goes-here”). Here is an example with the new way with fewer lines of code.

/*
 * .NET 4 301 Permanent Redirect
 * */
Response.RedirectPermanent("NewPage.aspx");

By implementing 301 redirects it is a good practice to inform search engines that content has moved to a new location. Here are examples where Force 5 is involved with 301 redirects:

  • a web page that have moved
  • a web page that has been removed
  • web page content that has been consolidated with another web page
  • non-www permanent redirect to the www (or vice versa)

How-to: Adding META Keywords & META Description with ASP.NET 4

Tuesday, July 6th, 2010 by Force 5

In a previous post I showed how-to add specific page keywords & descriptions while using ASP.NET with Master Pages. Compared with the latest ASP.NET 4 version, this technique was not coder friendly.

In ASP.NET 4 adding page keywords and descriptions is as easy as this shown below.

    protected void Page_Load(object sender, EventArgs e)
    {
        // page keywords
        Page.MetaKeywords = "keywords go here...";
        // page description
        Page.MetaDescription = "description go here...";
    }

Overall, page keywords & descriptions are still important for SEO success along with page titles and page content. If you need any help with your website search rankings please feel free to contact Force 5 for some guidance.

Reversing the Childhood Obesity Trend (is a Big Idea!)

Thursday, June 24th, 2010 by Force 5

As a marketer I’m always looking for inspiration, and I’m certain most of us who work in the industry would like nothing more than to conceptually develop and execute the next big idea.  Some of you might wonder what I mean – big idea seems slightly vague I assume.  In this instance I liken a big idea to something that is life changing, or big enough perhaps to become a movement.

For inspiration I need not look further than my own flesh and blood – enter my 3 (“I’m almost 4 dad, then I’ll be 5”) year old son.  Fortunately for my wife and I, our son is an extremely active (perhaps hyperactive) kid who likes to play outside every minute of the day.  Reality dictates that he eventually head indoors to take a bath, then our greatest challenge is getting him to unwind before bed time.  One tactic we execute sparingly is to reward him with 30 minutes of “cartoon time” if he comes inside with little resistance, and takes a bath and brushes his teeth in a timely matter.  That’s when I began to personally experience the power of marketing and advertising, and its effectiveness when geared towards children.

My son already easily identifies with brands such as McDonald’s, Chips Ahoy and Apple Jacks.  And when he sees the ads he utters the words “I want that” almost every time.  As a parent, I simply laugh (at least I did at first) and within 60 seconds or less we’ve moved on to something else.  It’s what transpires next – outside of the home – that was most startling.  Now on any given day, when we drive by a McDonald’s, the following exchange usually occurs: [1] “Daddy I want Chicken Nuggets,” [2] Dad (most often) says “No” and [3] for the next several minutes my son’s world comes crashing down around him.  This same event will also transpire in the grocery store, with the cereal and cookie aisles being most dreadful.

I understand the power of connecting with your target market emotionally.  But as a marketer I’m also wondering if our industry is truly to blame (at least partially) for the prevalent childhood obesity epidemic that has emerged in communities all around our country.  From what I’m hearing and reading (and there’s a lot to read), many people seem to agree.

“For food companies, the children’s market is a top concern. Peddling food to kids is now a $13-billion-a-year business, complete with celebrity- and athlete-endorsed products, and marketing tie-ins with popular cartoons and TV shows. Industry giants such as Kraft Foods, Nabisco, Coke, and Pepsi all compete for prime Saturday morning advertising timeslots — and the name of the game is junk food.”

As recent as 24 months ago the Federal Trade Commission reported that “food and beverage marketers are spending $8.4 billion less to target children as initially thought.”  The FTC report went on to say “food, fast food and beverage makers spent $1.6 billion marketing to children under 17 in 2006.” Many still think this number is too high.

So – what does all of this have to do with a big idea?  For starters, how do we really begin to reverse the childhood obesity trend?  From what I’ve read – and I agree – one perspective gaining momentum is that the paradigm shift must start at the local level.   It’s easier to affect change in neighborhoods, towns and cities, than it is in states, regions or nations.  In this case, the blue print to begin the reversal of fortune for the future of our children starts with individuals in our own communities.  Having said that, who in South Bend (Indiana) and/or the surrounding areas is ready to step up?

In future posts (as it’s evident I have a lot to say about this topic), I will look at barriers (the most common being cost and time), popular channels or mediums being used to affect change (like Refresh Everything or Members Project) and potential advocates (local organizations, groups or leaders) who could help lead the charge.

Have a perspective or idea relevant to this topic?  If so, hit me up at jeremy@discoverforce5.com or visit discoverforce5.com to learn more about the agency I represent, and how we build communities one brand Soul at a time.

Is Your Website Customer-Centric?

Friday, May 21st, 2010 by Force 5

In case you haven’t noticed the web is changing. There is a huge movement underway toward clean, simple, user friendly websites that promote productivity and, consumer interaction. The average consumer doesn’t care how creative a design team you have or, how technically advanced your development team is. They want information. Honest, peer driven information.

Whether a potential customer is at your site to buy a product, comment on your organization, read reviews, download a podcast or, read your latest blog entry, it’s your job to keep them interested and coming back. This is what customer-centric website design is all about.

So what is a customer-centric website?

Simple.  A customer-centric website focuses on your customers and what they want. Today’s online consumer is not interested in your company, products or services – they are interested in themselves. A customer-centric websites is structured so the customer can easily find what they want or get answers to their questions. By focusing your website on customer benefits and, ensuring a unique user experience, you will not only increase loyalty you’ll generate the much coveted word-of-mouth advertising; both key drivers of online sales.

There are a few basic steps you can take to get started on the road to a customer-centric website
• Clearly define your product or service and how customers will benefit from it
• Make sure your contact information is never more than a click away
• Clearly organized and easily navigable site content
• Place links in consistent locations and include them on every page
• Review your content for spelling and grammar mistakes
• Allow customer feedback on products, services and the site
• Make it easy for customers to get what they want
• Ask customers for a bare minimum of information to register or sign up
• Include in-depth, well written FAQ’s
• Make it easy for a customer to get support

A successful customer-centric website is created by meeting customers’ needs better than anyone else. If you focus every aspect of your website on meeting your customers’ needs you’re much more likely to remain a preferred provider. Remember, your customer is your best source of advertising. Give them what they want and they will tell the world.

Don’t get left behind.  Take the next step toward a true customer-centric website. Contact Force 5 today at 574-234-2060 or info@discoverforce5.com.