Website Launch: New Hampshire Society of CPAs

Posted by Allison Boyajian on December 12, 2014. Tagged: events

iMarc is proud to announce the much awaited launch of New Hampshire Society of CPA’s new website!

Members and non-members alike will be ecstatic to find that the new site has been enhanced with an engaging, modern look-and-feel; user-friendly navigation, giving users the ability to easily discover content; and a completely revamped homepage.


The new Course Listings page will allow users to effortlessly view and register for Society-specific courses, webinars and other featured events.


Membership sign-up, renewals, professional development courses, and event registrations has never been easier or more secure than with the new easy-to-use eCommerce functionality.

course detail

Most importantly, NHSCPA's new website was designed and developed using Responsive Design techniques, providing a consistently excellent experience for site visitors on any device.

And with the new and improved event calendar, members and non-members can quickly view and register for specific Society events and courses, no matter where they are or what device they're using!

responsive event

We are incredibly proud of the final NHSCPA website and we hope it serves them well for year's to come!

Share your thoughts about the new site @iMarcagency.

The Honest Sales Process

Posted by Katie Desmond on December 5, 2014.


You’re probably thinking, “What does the Director of New Business know about an honest sales process?”

And I get that. The very phrase itself sounds like an oxymoron; honesty and sales aren’t exactly synonymous. Believe me, I took this to heart when I first interviewed at iMarc. Prior to coming to iMarc I was a web producer by trade and I can remember during my interview taking a huge risk as I said to our former president, "I don't want to be a slimly sales person, I want to be able to come to work and feel good about what I do."

Five years later I am proud to say that I do.


Whether you are a B2B company or a B2C company, users have already researched you online, contacted their network and learned as much as they can about you before even reaching out. In fact, according to the Marketing Leadership Council, consumers progress through 60% of the sales process before even contacting a sales rep. It's important that your reputation precedes you and speaks for your company and clearly describes who you are and your capabilities. 

At iMarc we have been very successful since our inception in 1997. Our commitment to customer service has led to many long term client relationships. Our reputation is something that is key to our success and delivering great, honest customer service is the best way to maintain it. 


Quickly following upon the heels of your reputation is integrity, and this is something that we take to heart. In the spirit of staying honest, if we are presented with a project that isn't in our wheelhouse or that we aren't a great fit for, we sometimes have to turn work down. It's a difficult decision and often hard to consider, but the reality is if we were to take on a project that we weren't confident in delivering we would only be hurting ourselves as well as our client.

We pride ourselves on our client relationships and we provide references for every proposal that we deliver. We strongly encourage our potential clients to contact our references and to ask all of those difficult questions about timing and budget. We value long term client relationships and we aren't looking to simply redesign and develop your current site, we are looking to support you for the long-haul and provide supportive and helpful maintenance to continue to care and feed your site over time. 

Personal Relationships

Now this is the cornerstone of all that we do. We have a wide array of clients with various skills and expertise and we truly partner with them to understand their business goals, objectives and requirements to determine the best solution that will help them be successful online. As part of our process we love to meet in person and we'll invite you to our office and get to know you. Whether we are meeting at a "Meat and Meet" which usually involves hamburgers or if you are coming to our office and partaking in some delicious cupcakes; we want to get to know you on a personal level and have a chance to meet face-to-face. 

In addition, we understand that often a project  can be directly related to our clients own career development. We want to help you achieve your goals and objectives to create a career-enhancing experience and web design and development project that you are proud to put your name on. We are vested in your success because in turn it fuels our success.

Challenge Ideas

Now as a sales person it's always much easier for us to say to our potential clients, "Sure, we can build that for you." But sometimes this may not be the best solution for the client or align to meet their specific goals and objectives. It can be a daunting task and it is always a risk but in order to be true partners, there are times we do have to ask, "Is this the best way to do this? Perhaps if we modified this or built the site on this platform this may be a better solution or will make better use of your budget." If you are looking to deliver an honest sales approach rather than be a "yes man or woman," be sure to deliver value and helpful suggestions when you realize that is modified slightly you can deliver an even better result. 

iMarc is an amazing team of smart collaborative individuals and if you regularly read our blog you will quickly see the value and passion of all of our employees. It's amazing to come to work every day and work with such talented individuals that are truly passionate about the work that they do. When you choose to work with iMarc you are selecting a passionate and dedicated team that is vested in your success. And if we have the pleasure of meeting in person I will gladly shake your hand, look you in the eye and tell you the same. Honestly.

Go Fish! What a deck of cards can teach us about successful projects.

Posted by Christian Keyes on December 1, 2014. Tagged: best practices, content, creative, design, rants, user experience

I've always been fascinated by magic. Of all the props at a magician's disposal, a simple deck of playing cards are the most recognizable and accessible.  As you might imagine, I own about as many decks as Kevin owns keyboards. Red decks, blue decks, black decks, clear decks. Svengali, "stripper" and "invisible" if we're getting tricky. I'm getting off topic... let me take a step back.

Some cards on hand at the officeAbove: A few decks of cards I had on hand here in the office.

I was at a local toy store with my 3.5 year old and found myself checking out some simple games we might enjoy while he hovered over the obligatory train table nearby. They had games for all ages and tastes, but most were fairly convoluted or firmly outside of his skill set. I saw a box that simply said "Go Fish" and wondered what the manufacturer had done to add some new life to such an old and familiar game. Upon reading the box, I realized that they had not made any effort to complicate the game or raise the stakes. I've got approximately 36 decks on hand at home that would do the trick so to speak.  It seemed the only value being added was in the colorful design of the cards, which had great campy illustrations of aquatic creatures for each number.  I let out an audible laugh when I saw the asking price (nearly 4 times as much as an ordinary deck), and kept looking for other games.

Several loops around the store later and I ended up back at the "Go Fish" box. Moments later I was at the register with cards in hand. Call it an impulse buy, but something convinced me to go for it. I immediately doubted my decision, wondering if he would even have the focus to play an entire round. He can count really well, but could he identify the numbers? Oh and how could I explain the rules to someone so young. I think I took for granted how simple it seemed to me when I used to play. Maybe I wasted that money, which could have gone towards a model jet or that sweet "Explorabook" collecting dust.

Later that evening we sat down on the carpet and I fanned the cards in front of him as I explained the rules. To my surprise, he picked it up immediately, and was talking trash after two games. Just as I suspected, his counting was great, but recognizing the numbers was still tricky. Luckily, each illustration was different, and cleverly represented the number on each face (starfish was 5, octopus was 8, and a seahorse shaped like a 7 for example). There were no kings, queens, jacks, or aces. No suits either, just numbers and fish.

Fish Cards

We played a staggering 15 games, which gave me plenty of time to ruminate on why this was such a hit. It dawned on me in such a simple and obvious way that to even write about it seems silly.

All day at work, we talk about the importance of content. Simplicity. Knowing the audience. Removing the unnecessary. Cohesiveness and conceptualization. Design. Usability. Customization. Delight! This goofy card game was a microcosm of every theory and practice we deal with (pun intended) here at iMarc. Proof on a small scale that if you truly think and care about these concepts, the result will not only surprise you, but will really please your visitors. 

Go fish!

Countdown to Cyber Monday: Is your website ready?

Posted by Allison Boyajian on November 25, 2014. Tagged: best practices

This post was also co-written by Patrick McPhail, Associate Director of Operations.


Thanksgiving is a day to appreciate all the wonderful things we are blessed with in life. Be it a roof over your head, good friends and family, a healthy year, or the anticipation of Season 3 House of Cards on Netflix. Black Friday is a day to forget all that crap and shop ‘till you drop. It's the day to come out of your tryptophan coma and really chase after your dream of finally getting printer ink cartridges for 30 percent off.

Now, welcome to the future: Cyber Monday, ladies and gentleman. In case you didn’t do enough shopping over the past 24 hours, you get one more chance to buy that voice-activated juicer you really need.

For consumers, Cyber Monday is fun. For businesses, Cyber Monday is terrifying. Getting all of your inventory up-to-date online, scheduling pre-sale email blasts, deciding the most convincing call-to-actions, all while making sure your website is equiped to handle the extra traffic…It’s no wonder all of these major sales lead to Taser fights. Studies are showing this year’s Cyber Monday will be bigger than ever. EMarketer predicts that holiday retail e-commerce sales in the U.S. will jump 17 percent to $72.4 billion, accounting for 24 percent of online sales for the full year.

While we can’t be there to make sure your consumers are clicking and spending the day away, we can pass along a few tips to help you prepare your website for the big 12-1.

Get Social

First things first, your website should already have social media integration. That could mean a live feed of your Tweets on your homepage, or a simple social media tool bar. But if you don’t have social media integration, then at the very least make sure you are updating your social media account so your followers are made aware of whatever sales or promotions you’ll be having. With the rise of photo-based social media like Instagram and Vine, it’s a huge opportunity to show off your latest and greatest products in a fun, engaging way. Utilizing social media provides one more way that consumers may remember you on Monday and head to your website to check out those sweet new speakers that they have already seen are now $20 off.

For some inspiration, here are some brands that use Instagram and Vine right. 

Analyze, Analyze, Analyze

Right now, Google Analytics is your best friend. If you don’t have any analytics installed on your site, get set up now. You’ll still be able to gain some valuable information a week before.

Things to look for: abandoned carts. If people are adding products to their cart and leaving before they pay, something needs to change before Monday. It could be because the checkout process is too long, or perhaps it’s too confusing. Either way, if you notice this in advance, you can nip it in the bud and be confident that on Monday users will have a smooth, easy checkout process. 

Google Analytics will be able to tell you how many people are abandoning their carts, versus how many people are buying. Say your checkout process is five steps (that’s about two steps too many, by the way) you can see how many people drop off at step one, two, or three.

Another thing to look for: product views versus sales; how many people are buying your product compared to how many people are seeing it. (Essentially, online window shopping.) Your web stats can show you how many people are visiting your product pages. If there’s a product with lots of views but no sales, people may be interested, but not enough to buy. For the big day, consider focusing discounts on those items, or perhaps adding a better photo or product description. It’s a great opportunity to take advantage of the traffic.

Make it Mobile 

Now is not the time to make a full transfer to mobile. (But if you want to…give us a shout :)) Nevertheless, there are a few things you can do in the meantime to make your mobile experience as effective as it can be. Why bother? For starters, An Accenture study found that almost one-quarter of Americans plan to make a purchase from a smartphone this holiday season, up from 18 percent in 2013. Additionally, a survey found on psfk found that in 2013 mobile sales led the way with more than 17% of the total online sales – an increase of 55.4% year over year. Mobile is huge, and if your site isn’t easy-to-use on smartphones, you may suffer on Cyber Monday. 

While you’re not going to be able to rebuild your entire site for mobile in the next day, maybe there is some low-hanging fruit you can address. Fire up your site on a couple devices… can you see any of the calls-to-action you just spent a week agonizing over? Is it is a wall of text? Depending on how your site is built, it may be quick to adjust text, or even remove some ancillary content on mobile.

Prepare for the Deluge of Traffic 

When you were going over your analytics a few steps ago, you hopefully noticed a spike in traffic about this time last year. Being prepared for the extra demand is just as important online as in a brick and mortar store – and thanks to your analytics, you should be able to project the load the site is going to face. Over here at iMarc we do a number of things to optimize our sites, and there are some easy-ish steps you can take even at the last minute.

Google’s PageSpeed Insights gives some extremely valuable tips. Here are a few:

Optimize images

This is a big category, but depending on how you’re doing things today could really reduce your site’s page weight and response time. Images often account for most of the downloaded bytes on a page. Audit the images you’ve got up there now – can they be compressed into JPEGs? Can some even be eliminated? Are you using background images where a CSS gradient or background color would suffice?

Minify Your Code

Stripping whitespace out of your whitespace-agnostic files can save some bandwidth and speed up your page load. Look especially for quick swaps that might be available with plugins/3rd-party code your site uses. Swapping out jQuery's non-minified code with the minified version cuts down the filesize by 2/3rds, for example.

Enable compression

All modern browsers support and automatically negotiate gzip compression for all HTTP requests. This can reduce the size of the transferred response by up to 90%, which can significantly reduce the amount of time to download the resource, reduce data usage for the client, and improve the time to first render of your pages.

Enable and test gzip compression support on your web server. The HTML5 Boilerplate project contains sample configuration files for all the most popular servers with detailed comments for each configuration flag and setting: find your favorite server in the list, look for the gzip section, and confirm that your server is configured with recommended settings. Alternatively, consult the documentation for your web server on how to enable compression:

 Leverage browser caching

Fetching resources over the network is both slow and expensive. All server responses should specify a caching policy to help the client determine if and when it can reuse a previously fetched response. Google recommends a minimum cache time of one week and preferably up to one year for static assets, or assets that change infrequently.

Remove any non-essential plugins

Plugins help the browser process special types of web content, such as Flash, Silverlight, and Java. Most mobile devices do not support plugins, and plugins are a leading cause of hangs, crashes, and security incidents in browsers that provide support. Most content that once required plugins can now be created using native web technologies, including content requiring first-class support for audio and video, advanced graphics and presentation effects, network connections, local storage, and file access. Using these web platform features will help ensure that your rich content can be accessed on all devices. 

By giving some attention to your brand’s social media, Google Analytics, mobile presence and page speed, you should be able to spruce up your website just in time for Cyber Monday.

With an easy-to-use, engaging online-presence, your users will no doubt have something to be thankful for!

Behind the Scenes of iMarc's 2014 Holiday Card Photoshoot

Posted by Jared Laham on November 24, 2014. Tagged: creative, culture

iMarc of Thrones

Every year around this time, iMarc's creative team is given free reigns to concept, direct, and produce a zany, yet fun holiday card that brings delight and cheer to all who receive it. This year the chosen theme was "iMarc of Thrones" and things got a little out of control (in the best way possible).

The creative team scouted and shot photos in various Newburyport locations so they could composited them together, creating a magical landscape for the backdrop.


Each iMarc employee was cast as a character from Westeros and told to start studying up on their personality. 


From there, the Creative Team captured photos of each employee dressed in various Game of Thrones style costumes in front of a black backdrop using speed-light flashes to keep a consistent looking light source. We posed person in various different positions to ensure we got enough variety upfront to make composition decisions later in photoshop.


To perfectly place people within our composite backdrop, we made quick masks for each person and began placing them. Scaling, lightly toning, and blurring character as needed to feel cohesive with the color graded environment. iMarc has grown this year, so we had to expand the length of our card to fit everyone. 


Like what you see? Stay tuned for the finished card design!

Prospecting Tools to Help You Identify the Right Person, at the Right Time

Posted by Katelyn Weber on November 19, 2014. Tagged: best practices, sales


Have you ever thought about the evolution of prospecting? Even further, have you thought about the evolution of the tools of prospecting? Prospecting can be defined as the search for potential customers or buyers - prospects who are going to support your business through buying your products or becoming a customer of your services. The prospecting tools are what help you find them.

60 years ago, a salesperson’s tool belt consisted of a map of their territory, references from family members and friends, and maybe a phone. Flash forward to today and a prospector's tool belt can consist of 50 different technologies, a phone, email and the list goes on. So as a salesperson in 2014, what are the best technologies to include in your tool belt? What tools are going to help you identify the right person, at the right time? 

Finding the right person…

References and who you know are the best place to start. Use your LinkedIn to find out who you know and who you know, knows, ask your clients who they know - use your network as your first tool. 

Exhausted your references? No problem. Find out who your product or service is catered to; who would be most interested in what you’re offering — let’s say it’s the director of marketing. The first place you should look is LinkedIn and if you have the professional edition, the LinkedIn Sales Navigator. Simply type in “director of marketing” in the search and apply all of the appropriate filters: people, location, industry and any other filters you think would be applicable. This will provide you with an invaluable list of prospects to research further. By utilizing social profiles, you’re able to understand what your prospect is interested in and what they’re responsible for. Though this isn’t a list of qualified leads, it gives you an amazing starting point.

Exhausted your LinkedIn list? No problem. There are a number of tools out there that can help you identify the right prospects or at least a list that can lead you to them. SalesLoft “searches through social profiles on the web to find you the exact prospects you’re looking for.” Use their tools to build lists, reach out to those prospects and start qualifying leads - all from one easy to use interface (use their new Cadence product to develop your own business development and prospecting campaign for strategic emailing and calling).

Here are some other great tools to explore: ZoomInfoInsideView and Nimble.

At the right time...

Once you’ve found a great list of prospects, it’s important to consider when to reach out to them. Sure, you could simply send an email introducing yourself and your product or service, but what if they just recently bought from your competitor? Wouldn’t you want to be knowledgable of that and use it as ammo for your conversation?

First, set up Google alerts for your target prospects and stay up-to-date on their activity, awards and other key indicators. Recently won that big award? Received funding from a VC firm? Great time to reach out and introduce yourself! But there are ways to dive even deeper into your prospect's needs and gain similar knowledge. Datanyze is a powerful tool that lets you know who’s trying out your competitors’ software. Create a list of your target prospects and Datanyze will alert you of when they installed a software and dropped a software, giving you invaluable information on how and when to reach out to your prospects.

For the modern-day prospector, it’s important to understand how to find the right person, at the right time. Add some of these tools to your tool belt, how did they work for you?

Using some other tools you’d like to share? Tweet them at @iMarcAgency today!

Website Launch: Newburyport Public Library

Posted by Allison Boyajian on November 14, 2014. Tagged: events, web design

We have always been grateful for our success and feel as though it's our responsibility to give back to the communities that have nurtured us where we work and live.

When the Newburyport Public Library contacted us to do the second iteration of it's website, we were thrilled with the opportunity to not only serve a centerpiece of our community, but also to support the pursuit of knowledge, a core value that iMarc prides itself on.

Newburyport Public Library's new site features a clean, modern layout, paired with vibrant, engaging design to allow for the optimal user experience. To support it's active social community, iMarc included social media integration and a dynamic, interactive calendar to help users stay up-to-date on all of the library's upcoming events and activities.

Check out their new site, and let us know what you think!

nplCongrats on launch, NPL!

Design Has No Room for Your Ego

Posted by Robert Mohns on November 13, 2014. Tagged: design

So you’ve started a redesign of your website (or logo, or brochure, or living room, or whatever). You’ve hired a great web designer (or interior designer, or architect, or whatever). How do you know if they’re doing great work for you?

Well, we can’t talk about how good it is unless we know what design is.

Design is pretty pictures, right? You do it in Photoshop and Illustrator while wearing a black beret, twirling your waxed mustache in contemplation of the nature of beauty.

No. No, no, no.

Any time you make something that solves a problem, you are doing design. A page layout presents content that is intended to create a specific response or action. A logo tells the viewer something about the nature and philosophy and personality of a brand. A checkout workflow helps people give you their hard-earned money. An elevator moves people and their things hundreds of feet into the air.

Design that doesn’t solve a problem isn’t design. It’s art, or perhaps a hobby.

Clear? Good.

Design has purpose

If you’re designing a desk chair, it should make you comfortable sitting at a desk for long periods of time. If you’re designing a chair for McDonald’s, it should be comfortable for about 15 minutes, and make you want to get up around the same time you finish your Big Mac, fries, and frozen dessert.

To evaluate whether a web design is good, consider its purpose. Maybe it’s encouraging users to download a software demo. Or to register for a conference. Or maybe you want to re-invent how your brand is seen. Or make it fast and easy for homeowners and renters to sign up for cable.

Design can be evaluated objectively

By which we really mean, it meets the design objectives. By its nature, creative design involves applying principles and guidelines to fuzzy situations. Those decisions may seem subjective, but to a good designer, they aren’t. You can (and should!) ask “Why is are the corners rounded?”; the answer should be something like, “Rounded corners direct the eye towards the center, while sharp box corners direct the eye towards the box itself." (Yes, I can cite that.)

Does a design meant to generate leads actually generate leads? Then it’s good.

Does a design look great but distract from the content? Then it’s bad.

Design has no room for your ego

Once we acknowledge that design objectives matter, then we derive a simple corollary: it doesn’t matter what you prefer. It matters that the design works.

If the design achieves its objectives, then it is good.

TL;DR: If you “like” a design, you’re doing it wrong.

Designs don’t have to be liked. They have to solve a problem. The only valid criteria is how well they solve the problem.

Winning Streak Continues!

Posted by Allison Boyajian on November 11, 2014. Tagged: awards


The MarCom Awards recognize individuals and companies for exceptional marketing campaigns across print, visual, audio and web platforms. With over 6,000 entries from some of the top business and communication firms in the world, MarCom is one of the largest competitions of its kind.

We are honored to have won the following awards for our most recent website redesign projects!

SSH: Platinum

Quaero: Gold

Morrison Mahoney LLP: Honorable Mention

NEHI: Honorable Mention 

To check out some of our other (equally awesome) work, take a look at our portfolio or find us on FacebookLinkedIn and Twitter

The PHP We're Glad to Have Forgotten

Posted by Kevin Hamer on November 10, 2014. Tagged: engineering

PHP is nearly a twenty year old language. While its certainly not the oldest, it's come a long way from where it started. HHVM  and PHP 5.6 are stripping a lot of the junk that doesn't belong in PHP, as even in PHP 5.5 there's still a lot of things that should be avoided.

Here's a 100% functional, sample PHP file (given that you have asp_tags on) that uses many of the worst things PHP still has, just for fun:

Some highlights:

  • While PHP does throw a notice, I'll never really be a fan of the fact that PHP will happily treat unquoted strings as strings if they don't match a constant.
  • goto seemed like a great idea back in third grade when I was writing QBasic, but it just leads to unstructured code.
  • While I'm sure there are reasons why PHP supported ASP-style and script tags, being able to mix them (and worse, open with one style and close with another) is ridiculous.
  • In general, extract is a bad idea. Especially how I used it (on $_REQUEST) as any variable in the script is susceptible to being overridden.
  • Variable variables are a neat trick, but in practice, there's going to be clearer ways.

All languages have good parts and bad parts, and PHP is no exception. Good code is explicit, sticks to the good parts, and focuses on clarity.