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Feb 2

Tech Tuesday: Forbin’s Favorite iPhone Tricks

Posted by vgmforbin in Tech Tuesday

VGM Forbin Tech Tuesday

It’s Tuesday, meaning we owe you some amazing information from the world of web and tech.  In today’s Tech Tuesday, we are looking at iPhone tricks that our very own employees use on a daily basis.  Now, you may be asking yourself, “What about the Android tricks?”  There are Forbin employees with Androids, and they have great tricks too, but today we’ll stick to the infamous iPhone and the surprising shortcuts we’ve found!

  1. The Long Press  – Christina’s Fav

This first trick, the long press, is a favorite feature that Forbin Web Marketing Director Christina Throndson uses every day on her iPhone 6s.  By holding down her finger on an email or app, she can see a preview of the content without actually opening the entire email or app.

  1. News for YOU – Neal loves it

Forbin Client Success Representative Neal Price has fallen in love with the latest News app on iOS.  Why?  It delivers exactly the news he is interested in and continues to evolve to offer news on the topics he is most interested in at the time.

  1. The Live Photo  – Shannon’s visual inspiration

The Live Photo has made capturing those photo-worthy moments much more real for Forbin Client Success Representative Shannon Kazynski.  She loves this feature on her iPhone 6s because she can now take a live photo which includes a few frames before and after she pushes the shutter.  She can then use those live photos on her lock screen, wallpaper or even the face of her Apple Watch!

  1. Talk to Text – Katie’s texting treasure

For Katie Hansen, Forbin Web Marketing Specialist, the talk to text is her most used trick.  By simply pressing the microphone, Katie can respond to texts while typing, walking and more.  She also loves this feature because it dictates text responses much faster than her fingers could ever type!

  1. The Double Tap – Al’s absolute must-have

If you don’t have time or finger reach to tap the top of the screen for the safari search bar, Forbin Web Marketing Specialist Al Strain has the iPhone 6s solution for you!  A light double tap on the home button will bring your search bar down for easy finger access!

  1. Text to Speech – Cassi’s reading revolution

For the multi-taskers out there, you may love Senior Web Marketing Specialist Cassi Price’s favorite iPhone trick.  By selecting settings – accessibility – speak selection and enabling, you are able to activate the text-to-speech option which allows you to select content and have it read aloud to you!

These are just a few of the amazing features we enjoy on our iPhones.  However, the most helpful mobile feature Forbin can offer you is assistance with how your website is displayed on mobile devices.  Contact your Forbin representative today to ask about our mobile responsive designs and app development services!

Dec 21

Startup Weekend 2015

Posted by vgmforbin in Forbin Events, Forbin Team

VGM Forbin participated in Startup Weekend 2016 Cedar Valley

The start-up culture has been idolized across all sorts of industry publications and on TV shows such as HBO’s “Silicon Valley.” However, California is not the only hotbed for start-up businesses. Just a couple of weeks ago on Nov. 20-22, eight Forbin team members participated in a Google Startup Weekend event right here in Waterloo at Cedar Valley TechWorks, with Forbin also serving as a Silver Sponsor.


Startup Weekend is a 54-hour weekend event during which groups of developers, business managers, startup enthusiasts, marketing gurus, graphic artists and more pitch ideas for new startup companies, form teams around those ideas, and develop a working prototype, demo, or presentation by Sunday evening.

Drew Kahler from VGM Forbin participated in Startup Weekend 2015.

Photo credit: Jonah Lorsung; photo source: Startup Weekend Cedar Valley Facebook page


A huge draw for us at Forbin was getting to grow our product and business development skills working with those outside of our own office. We often get stuck in our own way of doing things, so Startup Weekend served as a great way to see new ideas and processes, and bring them back to the rest of the company. This creates a mix of innovation and entrepreneurship, or “intrepreneurship” if you will.

Laura Hand from VGM Forbin participated in Startup Weekend 2015

Photo credit: Jonah Lorsung; photo source: Startup Weekend Cedar Valley Facebook page


The team including our own Nathan Hauser and Drew Kahler took first place. Another team that included Forbin’s Laura Hand, Andrew Elthon and Kyle Kramer took third place with an idea for a web-app that allows video communication with your healthcare provider after hours that Laura pitched.

Kyle Kramer and Andrew Elthon from VGM Forbin participated in Startup Weekend 2015

Photo credit: Jonah Lorsung; photo source: Startup Weekend Cedar Valley Facebook page


Cassi Price and Shannon Kazynski from VGM Forbin participated in Statup Weekend 2015.

Photo credit: Jonah Lorsung; photo source: Startup Weekend Cedar Valley Facebook page


But what did we learn? We’ll let each team member who went describe their experience in their own words.


Andrew Elthon, Web Designer

“Part of me thought this was more of a hackathon-style event, where we build something cool and share it with everyone on Sunday. It turned out to be much more. We spent a great deal of time researching our market and getting to know our potential customers. Moving forward, I might be more inclined to push for Forbin to have some kind of hackathon weekend or evening.”


Drew Kahler, Sales

“It was more challenging and stressful than I had anticipated it would be.  Emotions ran high with a bunch of people that want to see everything succeed, and we were on a very tight deadline to develop and test out an idea.  Not only did we have to figure out if our idea/product was something people might actually use, but we also had to have enough of an understanding and data to prove that fact.”


Kyle Kramer, Web Designer

“I think the coolest experience was developing a product from the ground up with a team of people created that day. Some of the team members were from Forbin and I work with them daily, but half the team wasn’t and it seemed like we all meshed really well and the talents were spread out.  That made for great input across the board and a great learning opportunity.”


Loni Meier, Project Manager

“It is an incredible opportunity to take nothing more than a concept and vet out obstacles and identify opportunities to formulate a viable business proposition.  I was involved in the event last year, but only for part of the time.  This year I was able to have the full experience, and it lived up to everything I had expected it to be.”


Nathan Hauser, Web Designer

“Working the creative process in very little time…you learn how to come together as a team and make decisions when you need to execute.”


Laura Hand, Creative Director

“It was awesome seeing how well our team of strangers was able to come together and quickly become a great team that essentially developed a company in two days. It was a great structured way to walk us through all the right homework and questions we should be asking before we arrive at a product solution.”


Shannon Kazynski, Client Success Representative

“The coolest experience I had over the weekend was seeing all of the different teams function in a similar fashion, no matter what the idea was. We all hit similar roadblocks or plot twists along the way that potentially changed our direction altogether. It showed me that no matter how great you think your idea is, the discovery part is the most difficult, but most valuable.”


Cassi Price, Senior Web Marketing Specialist

“For me, the coolest part of Startup Weekend was our discussions with area mentors.  Our team would start feeling really comfortable and confident about where we were in the project, and then the mentors would meet with us and shake things up (in a good way).  The mentors could speak from experience and show us a completely different view of how to achieve our business goals.”


The “intrepreneurial” spirit of the weekend was a great way to break our team members out of the everyday production style they are used to. While it was a safe environment to learn more about the business development process, the stakes were still high.


We are excited to implement a lot of the lessons our team members learned at Startup Weekend to help us provide better solutions for our future customers. We hope to bring more of the Forbin team along to Startup Weekend 2016!

Dec 12

Gifting Thanks

Posted by vgmforbin in Forbin Team

VGM Forbin gives back in various ways throughout the year.

In business, it’s easy to only see the numbers and the routine: sign a client, work with them on the project, complete it and move on to the next one.


As a company that works with hundreds of small and medium-size businesses that play crucial roles in their communities, we try to focus on the good that comes with each project we complete. As part of the VGM Group, Inc., one of the largest employers in our area, it is also part of our mission to help those in need in our community.


This time of year provides the perfect time to look back to see what good we’ve done this year. Sure, we measure our success on how much business we’ve done, revenue we’ve brought in and how we’ve grown. But success is also measured in how many businesses and lives we’ve impacted for the better.


One of the ways we’re able to positively impact those around us and across the country is directly through our work. In 2015, we wrote, designed and developed:


  • 46 websites for home medical equipment providers across the country that help millions get the medical equipment they need
  • 21 websites for small businesses ranging from fitness, restaurants and home improvement to VGM companies, board of realtors and the Greater Cedar Valley Alliance & Chamber
  • 20 websites for community banks providing residents of their area banking products, carrying out community service and reinvesting funds back into their community
  • 8 websites for long-term care facilities who care for the elderly population throughout the country
  • 5 websites for orthotics and prosthetics practices helping amputees and those with physical disabilities regain function and mobility they thought was lost
  • 5 websites for community pharmacies who provide prescriptions, immunizations, medical supplies and everyday items to their community members
  • 3 websites for rehab clinics offering a variety of physical, occupational and speech therapy to help patients regain mobility, strength, everyday life skills and the ability to communicate


There are two specific projects we want to draw special attention to. The first is the B-Calm app we developed to help those with sensory challenges and learning disabilities. These include well known conditions like Autism, ADHD and Down Syndrome.


The app plays audio tracks with specialized, noise-masking signals blended into live recordings to help those with the sensory or learning disabilities stay calm, reduce stress and focus.


The B-Calm App from VGM Forbin helps those with disorders like autism and ADHD.


The second project we want to draw attention to is the website we developed for Access Day USA. Access Day USA is a cause dedicated to helping those with limited mobility. It is spearheaded by Evergreen Life Access and supported by home medical equipment providers, local businesses, non-profits, philanthropic individuals and government entities to help people – children, adults, grandparents – live a more accessible and mobile life.


The first Access Day USA occurred right in our backyard in Cedar Falls on June 17, with ramps installed by volunteers to give nine-year-old Natalie Olsen better access throughout her home, including two ramps to help access and leave her house, as well as grab bars and swivel hinges within the home.


We are absolutely thrilled and humbled to have been a part of the initial promotion of this great cause, as well as an ongoing partner.


The Access Day USA website created by VGM Forbin.


We were also able to positively influence our community outside of our work. Below is just a short list of the numerous organizations, community groups and non-profits our team members donated their time, talents and financial means to throughout the year.


  • Christmas in Walnut
  • Food drives for Northeast Iowa Food Bank
  • Cedar Friends of the Family
  • UNI Department of Marketing Alumni Board
  • Junior Achievement
  • Prairie Lakes Church
  • Boys and Girls Club of the Cedar Valley
  • Karsyn’s Krusaders
  • Helping Hannah’s Heart
  • Free photography for family and friends (engagement photos/weddings/seniors/etc.)
  • Northeast Iowa Brain Injury Alliance
  • Working with aged-out foster kids attending college
  • Master Gardener volunteering with community planting and beautification projects
  • St. Vincent De Paul
  • St. John Lutheran Church Endowment Fund
  • Golf4cf.com- a golf outing that raises money for Cystic Fibrosis research
  • Volunteering in the kids craft section during the Christmas Store hours
  • Cedar Valley Hospice
  • American Advertising Federation
  • Cedar Valley Jaycees


There is no doubt 2015 has been a blessed year for us in our growth. But it has also been a fantastic year getting to create new relationships, help small businesses do business better and work with community groups to achieve their mission. We’re looking forward to great possibilities to positively impact more people in 2016.

Nov 11

The Online Ad Buffet: Choosing the Healthiest Option for Your Business

Posted by vgmforbin in Search Engine Marketing

Choose from one of the many online advertising platforms wisely


When you type in “online advertising options” in Google, you’ll get a search results page that lists 285,000,000 results (delivered in an impressive 0.69 seconds). Everyone offers ad options now; Google, Yahoo!, Bing, Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram and a growing list of websites will all gladly take your money in exchange for showing your name and message.


It’s all a bit like a buffet. You walk in the door, get a table, and then your eyes bulge out of your head at the dizzying array of options in front of you. Which do you try first? Maybe some of this, some of that, oh and you don’t want to forget some of this other thing as well. Before you know it, you’re full, both of food that is terrible for you and regret.


The point is, successful online advertising is all about choosing the right channels and creating a strategic plan. Why? Because you don’t want to hit the end of a month and feel regret creep in when you’ve spent $1,000 without generating a single lead or selling one product.


If you’re just dipping a toe into the waters of online advertising, there are certain platforms where you should focus your effort and available budget. You don’t need to spend thousands of dollars for success, but rather choose the right channel(s) to focus on and be smart with the budget you have available.


Nov 7

Paid Online Advertising: No Longer a Novelty, but a Necessity

Posted by vgmforbin in Search Engine Marketing

Online advertising is a necessity, not a novelty


The crank-operated pencil sharpener started out as a novelty. It was mounted on a wall in your classroom, and while it may as well have been named the “Knucklebuster 3000,” it was far better than the handheld sharpener you had to twist, and twist, and twist.


Today, you may not even find a wall-mounted pencil sharpener in a classroom. Mechanical pencils spelled the end of them. Bag phones were replaced by cell phones, which have now been replaced by smartphones. In fact, many things that started out as novelties are now must-haves.


As a business owner, you know there are some things that are no longer novelties, but necessities: the ability to accept card payments, financial management software and a website to market yourself. But as online marketing continues to evolve and transform, so does the line between what you can get for free and what requires an investment.


Sep 25

New Product Launch: VPress Takes Blog Platforms to the Next Level

Posted by vgmforbin in Web Marketing

VPress, Forbin's new blogging platform

The nature of our work means we rely a lot on third party software to get the job done or better serve our customers. Since we began offering blog development, hosting and content creation services, this has meant relying on a popular open-source blogging platform, WordPress.


However, it is with great excitement that we would like to announce the launch of our own proprietary blogging system: VPress™. Mixing in the benefits of WordPress, other blog platforms and user needs, VPress is a step forward in creating a blog platform that performs better with the rest of the website.


Sep 25

Class is in Session: Questions to Ask About Your Business’s Online Marketing

Posted by vgmforbin in Web Marketing

Questions to ask about your online marketing

By now the schools in your area are no doubt back in session, and kids across the country have adjusted to being back in the classroom. While students only have to worry about making good grades, outside of school the business world never sleeps.


You constantly have to stay focused on sales, and huge part of bringing in paying customers is marketing your company. With the school year having recently begun, now may be the perfect time to borrow a page out of the teachers’ playbook and conduct a “self-quiz” about your online marketing efforts.


You may come to find out you are further ahead (or behind) than you thought. Take a look through the following questions surrounding your online marketing that cover social media, search engine optimization, search engine marketing and analysis.


Aug 18

Tech Tuesday: Working at Amazon | Forrest Gump on Tinder | BuzzFeed’s Payday| Auto Hacking

Posted by vgmforbin in Tech Tuesday

VGM Forbin Tech Tuesday

It’s the second day of the week, meaning we’re coming at you with Tech Tuesday, our weekly round-up of web and tech stories you should know. We have an awesome list of stories and topics for today, including:

  • Insights into the work environments at tech giants like Amazon, Uber and Facebook
  • A man channeling Forrest Gump on his Tinder profile sweeping ladies off their feet
  • The introduction of modular phones from (who else?) Google
  • Fossil and Intel teaming up to produce an internet-connected watch
  • Hackers disabling a Wired writer’s vehicle in busy highway traffic
  • NBC Universal making a huge investment in BuzzFeed



Aug 12

Your Website URL: Should You Purchase .BANK, .HEALTH or .PHARMACY?

Posted by vgmforbin in Search Engine Optimization, Web Development

Your website and brand could benefit from a different top-level domain.

Your website and brand could benefit from a different top-level domain.

Just last year, online real estate dramatically changed with the introduction of new Top Level Domains.  It’s true that we have always enjoyed a certain level of freedom with the availability of .com, .biz, .net and the international choices of .co, .uk, .au, etc.


However, industry keywords, city names and interests have now entered the market, with nearly 4 million websites around the world currently taking advantage of this new feature.  Will you be an early adopter and register for one of the 1000+ new Top Level Domains to hit the market this year?  Before you do, here is what you need to know.



Aug 11

Tech Tuesday | The Google Alphabet | Facebook Live | HTC in Trouble |Terrible 2014 Passwords | Why Cats Rule the Internet

Posted by vgmforbin in Uncategorized

VGM Forbin Tech Tuesday

It’s Tuesday, signaling another edition of Tech Tuesday. In today’s roundup of web and tech stories you need to know, we touch on Google’s “Alphabet,” Facebook diving into live streaming, HTC in dire straits, the most used passwords in 2014 and the science behind why you see so many cat videos on the internet.


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