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Why You Need a Development Team

Why You Need a Development Team

Why You Need a Development Team

Going it alone is hard. Business owners are well aware of this maxim because it applies to every aspect of running a company. Building and maintaining a website is no different. Website builders help users get started, but the perfect site requires more than a basic template and a few words. Resources like articles and videos help, but the most useful resource of all is a development team.

Most business owners aren’t also web developers. You don’t have time to learn how to code and create a custom website that fits your brand. Maybe you’ll find a template that’s close enough to what you want, but what happens when you’re ready to grow into something new? What happens when your simple site needs to be much, much more?

This step is where going it alone becomes more challenging. Choosing the right content management system (CMS) is critical. Content management systems come with all kinds of tools and resources. 

Development teams know exactly how to leverage those tools and resources.

 

What is a development team?

Businesses starting from scratch need to determine what approach they’re going to take to build their site. Will they use a website builder and simple templates? Some do, but general templates recycled styles don’t help a business stand out in the crowd. In today’s market, every business needs an online presence. Building a site with a fundamental website builder like Wix or Squarespace is like putting an ad in the White Pages (no one really sees it). Using a development team is like putting up a billboard on Main St.

Development teams come in all shapes and sizes, but the leading roles are web developers and web designers. People like to conflate development and design even though they’re two very different aspects of a website. Development is the construction of a site, the custom coding and creation. On the other hand, design refers to the aesthetics of the website, the schemes, and the look.

We can break these teammate roles down into a little further detail.

 

Back-End Developers

The back end of your website is where all the magic happens. Every click navigating to another page, every video on auto-play, and every pop-up happen because a back-end developer built it. Businesses need them to create custom elements that will make their website functional. These elements include site security and other applications, so finding the right back-end developer is essential. Developers also help build the kinds of flexibility that allow site owners to receive and manage user information. 

 

Front-End Developers

Front-end developers focus on user experience. The back-end developer will create the system for running searches or navigation, but your front-end developer makes it look awesome. The spinning wheels, zoom in/out buttons, and feature locations (among other things)? All of that stuff comes from on the front-end. 

Finding an excellent front-end developer is every bit as important as your back-end. The user-experience helps define your website. Visitors will judge not just your site but your entire business based on how your site behaves. An essential part of behavior is across multiple platforms. Your website needs to function the same whether someone visits on a computer, tablet, or phone. 

 

Web Designers

Web designers work in tandem with the developers, but they work on different aspects that flow together. The designer creates the look and feel of your website. Starting with the overview “template” of ideas, a designer will work closely with you to organize color schemes, create custom graphics, and help with the overall concept. Your brand is on display, and your brand is your business.

Keep in mind that designers are not developers. While they may have some experience with coding, their function is to design, not build. Working with a designer is almost an essential part of building your website, but you can’t count on them to make your site function.

 

Use a development team to make a change.

Website builders like Wix and Squarespace are extremely limited. Users start because the platforms offer attractive templates and a user-friendly dashboard. After a while, people realize their website can’t grow with their business and look elsewhere. 

If you already know there’s no future with a site builder, why bother at all?

Luckily, there are ways to migrate away from these other platforms (see our guides on Wix and Squarespace). Moving can be a challenge if you’re looking to do more than just change the look of your site. Using a development team to help you make the move removes confusion and limits mistakes. Plus, you get the bonus of expanding your current functionality by using developers to create new tools. 

 

Why you need a development team

The DIY route is challenging. As we mentioned before, you need a website. With internet traffic trends the way they are, your site needs to shine above everyone else. It has to be functional and chic. You need a website that represents your brand without sacrificing the user experience. More than anything, you need to be able to make changes. No business is the same. There is no one-size-fits-all solution, so saving the ability to build custom features is essential.

Development teams do all of that for you. You get to choose the direction you want to go, work with the team, and watch as they turn your ideas into a beautiful website. The best part? You get to focus on the most critical aspects of your company, your customers. Some people believe they don’t have the budget for a development team. There are teams for all budgets, but all you need to remember is how much time and energy you’ll spend to build the perfect website. How many hours of work will you lose while you fumble through building a site? Compare your budget against how much money you’ll drop by not running your business and see how much it really costs to hire a development team.

 

We’d love to chat with you a little more about why a development team is a perfect business solution. Reach out, and let’s get started!

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Managing Content with the WordPress Admin Panel

Managing Content with the WordPress Admin Panel

Managing Content with the WordPress Admin Panel

 

The WordPress Dashboard, Simplified

 

Understanding the WordPress dashboard is simple enough to start using the system. WordPress caters to users who want a presentable website without needing a degree in development. In the past, website development included writing line after line of code. Content management services like WordPress made building a website accessible for everyone. What started as a haven for bloggers is now the world’s most popular management service. 

Why?

WordPress strips away the complicated parts of the building and maintaining a site by giving users a simplified dashboard. Everything a user needs is available on the homepage of the administrative screen. Additional streamlined navigation tools on the left side and across the top allow users to go anywhere and do everything with a few clicks.

Creating a website is daunting. We’re here to help simplify the operation. 

 

On the Homepage

 

The dashboard homepage shows a mixture of widgets containing different information. The page is customizable, and any plugin or integration offering information snapshots will show. The tables are also movable, so you can prioritize information by putting it above the fold. Remember, the WordPress home page lets you customize which boxes display. You can even collapse and expand each widget by clicking the title bar.

The page serves as a snapshot of the health and activity of your website. Services like Google Analytics and Yoast SEO display high-level information with options to dive deeper. The goal is to provide a smooth, customizable workflow when users sign in. If you get lost or stuck, WordPress has an extensive support system. The website has quick documentation help, including definitions for different aspects of the page along with general support for WordPress. 

The default boxes are:

  • At a glance: This box shows the number of posts, comments, and pages on your website.
  • Activity: This widget is highly interactive. It shows any new posts or comments and lets users make any edits where needed.
  • Quick Draft: An easy to use widget allowing you to begin a new post quickly.
  • WordPress News and Events: This box contains fresh articles and event announcements regarding the WordPress field.
  • Welcome: This gives tips on how to set up your new website
  • Screen Options: This widget allows you to control what boxes appear on the homepage.

 

Navigation Bar

 

While the homepage contains beneficial information, the navigation bar on the left side of the screen helps organize and move around your site. Once again, there are defaults, such as posts, settings, and users. However, this list is where you will find available plugins and integrations. Each menu item offers additional options when you hover over them.

The default items are:

 

Posts:

 

  • All Posts: Navigates to a page showing all published posts and drafts. The posts can be filtered by options like date, categories, and format. The posts are ordered by last modified date but can be re-ordered by other settings. 
  • Add Post: This page gives a blank canvas to start a blog post. You can also use this page to handle tagging, categorizing, and publishing newly written drafts.
  • Categories: All posts are categorized to help organize articles by topic for future reference. Unlike tags, categories are hierarchical meaning you can nest “child” categories to be more specific.
  • Tags: Tags are a simple way to group posts together under one label. Multiple tags can be applied to one post.

 

  •  
Media:

 

  • Library: The library includes all loaded media like images and videos. From this page, users can add, edit, and remove media files.
  • Add New: This page gives users the ability to add any new media up to 64MB.

 

Pages:

 

  • All Pages: Unlike posts, pages refer to more standard like your homepage, contact, or about page. 
  • Add New: Add a new standalone page.

 

Comments:

 

  • The comments menu item doesn’t contain multiple options. The page shows any and all comments from visitors. Users have complete control to edit, approve, or remove comments if needed.

 

Appearance:

 

  • Themes: The theme is the overall representation of the website. This includes colors, graphics, and text. WordPress supplies a large number of options for users both paid and free.
  • Customize: Most themes offer the ability to customize certain elements like images and colors.
  • Widgets: The widgets toolbar lets users control which options show up on the left-hand navigation bar. 
  • Menus: The menu page lets you create or edit navigation menus your visitors see on your website. These menus include headers, footers, in-post navigation, etc.
  • Header: This page allows users to edit what information shares on the theme’s header.

 

Plugins:

 

  • Installed Plugins: WordPress operates using various plugins. Plugins are nothing more than a piece of software that adds a feature or function to a website. The installed plugins page shows all available plugins for your website.
  • Add New: This page serves like something similar to a “store” for new plugins to download and add to your site.
  • Edit Plugins: Use this page to edit or remove current plugins.

 

Users:

 

  • All Users: This page lets you manage all users under your account.
  • Add New User: Add a new user to your account.
  • Your Profile: This area allows you to personalize the WordPress experience. Change color schemes, add an avatar, enter keyboard shortcuts, among other fields. 

 

Tools:

 

  • Available Tools: Contains a link to a tag to category converter (or vice-versa).
  • Import: This page contains a tool to let users upload external data like comments or posts from another website.
  • Export: Exporting from WordPress creates an XML file letting you create a backup for your website on an external website if you need to move or preserve your content.

 

Settings:

 

  • General: This page lets you view and edit the most basic elements of your website such as the site’s title.
  • Writing: This configuration controls how you view and write new posts.
  • Reading: Configures how your website displays information for a user to interact with on the front end such as how many posts show on one page.
  • Discussion: The discussion settings are a detailed way to control aspects of communication such as notifications, comment moderation, and avatars.
  • Media: Media settings let you determine image sizes.
  • Permalinks: WordPress lets users determine how the web-page address displays. The permalinks settings page shows available options for how to display page links.

 

As you continue to build your WordPress website, your navigation bar will grow with new options coming from additional plugins and customization. Most menu items operate similarly to the defaults.

 

The Top Menu

 

Across the top, you’ll see a small bar containing a few more shortcut keys to help streamline your use of the WordPress system. The far top left is the WordPress logo. Scrolling over this gives you a drop-down menu of some WordPress related links. Next to the logo, you’ll find your business name and a drop-down list, letting you navigate to your front-end homepage or even view your live website.

Other icons along the top are additional notifications and shortcuts to different areas on your site. The “New” option provides a drop-down to let you create a new post/page/user/etc. If you’re using plugins, you will notice some logos representing drop-downs to options for their services.

Finally, on the far right of the top-line menu, you’ll find your user name. This area gives you the option to manipulate your user profile, log out, or switch off. Editing your profile offers a lot of options from how you view the WordPress dashboard to whether you have a picture loaded. 

 

Wrapping Up

 

WordPress is popular for a very good reason. The accessibility of the system lets almost anyone create a website from scratch, and the easy-to-use plugins let you customize your site. The WordPress dashboard is the gateway to using the full power of the system. 

From the informational overview of the customizable homepage to the quick navigation shortcuts on the side and bottom, the dashboard has everything you need. The last step is taking the time to learn how to use it.

WordPress is kind of our thing. Schedule a meeting with our experts to talk about getting the most out of the system. We can’t wait to get started with you.

 

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3 Reasons Slow Page Speeds are Killing Your Website

3 Reasons Slow Page Speeds are Killing Your Website

3 Reasons Slow Page Speeds are Killing Your Website

Page speed is one of the most overlooked aspects of SEO. Slow page speeds lead to higher bounce rates and lower conversion rates. The user experience tanks before visitors get a chance to browse, costing you repeat traffic and potential sales.

 

Page speed is also a part of how Google ranks your website. Slow speeds can hurt your SERP despite how fantastic your site might be. Great content and innovative products are useless if no one can find you!

 

Briefly explained, page speed refers to the length of time it takes your website to load webpages. Articles, blog posts, product pages, and all other pages log speeds, and fast load times can benefit (or hinder) their performance. If your pages are not loading quickly, consider getting a site health check. The tool will help gauge your current speeds, but more importantly, it will help give you ways to improve your website.

 

Why is it such a big deal? Here are three reasons slow page speeds are killing your website.

 

The pages won’t show up on search queries.

 

Page load times aren’t a new qualifier for page rankings, but in 2018, Google announced the factor would have a more substantial impact on mobile rankings. We focus on mobile in particular because the majority of traffic is coming via mobile devices. In 2018, according to a study by Perficient Digital, 58% of visits to websites were from a mobile device. The majority of those visits come via search queries.

 

The lesson is that page rankings for desktop and on mobile are weighting page speeds more heavily than ever. Despite better content, your website may drop below competitors’ pages based on nothing more than load times. As we all know, more than 90% of clicks from a search come from the first page. If you fall below that, your website starts to become invisible.

 

  1. Visitors are the worst critics of slow page speeds.

 

The most reliable critique of your website isn’t Google’s scoring algorithm. It comes from your traffic. We measure success in clicks and bounce rates. We want to know how many people are visiting our websites. How long are they staying on the site? Are they visiting multiple pages? Page speed plays a vital role in getting definite answers to these questions.

 

The bounce rate is when someone visits one page and immediately leaves a website. We use traffic analytics to track bounces and make sure our pages are performing well. High bounce rates are a visible red flag for administrators and content managers. Not only are people leaving the site quickly, but we also don’t know why.

 

The problem may be the page design, or they may not like the content. They may give up on the website if the page loads too slowly. There are several causes, and we can’t tell by only looking at numbers. We have to test different changes to the page to see what works.

 

Luckily, if it’s the page speed, we can find out with a simple test, and take steps to fix the issues. However, we’ll get to that later.

 

  1. Web traffic is very impatient.

 

The main reason slow page speeds are such a killer is the fact that web traffic is very impatient. When we search for information, we expect to see it immediately. Providers measure WiFi speeds in megabits per second. For reference, a megabit is one million bits (a unit of data). Most carriers provide anywhere from 15Mbps to one Gigabit (1,000 megabits) per second. If that sounds like a lot of information, it is. Wireless providers like Verizon’s LTE regularly provide from 2-15 Mbps meaning download speeds are incredibly fast on mobile carriers.

 

This availability of blisteringly quick speeds only makes our standards as users higher. If a website can get 15 million bits of digital information to us in one second, we have high expectations. If not, we get bored or frustrated and leave. This exit can happen in four seconds or less. The industry threshold for eCommerce sites is less than two seconds.

 

According to a Nielsen Family study, websites have between seven and nine seconds to make an excellent first impression. If we can’t grab their attention in seven seconds, they’ll likely visit another site. Imagine now that they spend four of those seven seconds waiting for the page to load. It’s essential time we can’t waste.

 

The proof that slow page speeds drive away traffic is right there in the math. You only have seven seconds. Make them count!

 

How to improve

 

If it turns out that slow page speeds are the cause of your high bounce rates, fear not! There are resources to help fix that. Start by getting a health check to see where the problem areas are. Lead by shrinking or eliminating images. Use a cache, which saves data for future reference. In other words, the website won’t have to load from scratch each time the same person visits the page. Work with a development specialist to find different ways to help your site perform better, and stop losing traffic due to slow speeds!

 

 

Slow page speeds are painful. They hurt your page rankings with search engines making your website harder to find, and they cause high bounce rates meaning people won’t stick around for the rest of your content. They drive away impatient traffic that doesn’t want to wait the four extra seconds for a page to load.

 

Making an effort and correcting some small issues can have a significant impact on website traffic. Remember, you don’t have to be an expert developer to make these improvements, but it never hurts to ask for help. Get a page speed check, and use it to help find the problems you need to solve.

 

 

When you’re ready to get started improving your slow page speeds, schedule a meeting with our WordPress experts, and we’ll help you get it done!

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Launch a Tech Startup Without Being Tech-Savvy

Launch a Tech Startup Without Being Tech-Savvy

Launch a Tech Startup Without Being Tech-Savvy

Launch a Tech Startup Without Being Tech-Savvy

Have an idea for the newest and greatest tech company, but you don’t know how to launch one? You’re not alone. Problem solvers everywhere share the same issue, not being tech-savvy. The tech industry is still growing at an incredibly rapid pace, and even “experts” are continuously falling behind. Luckily, tech-savviness isn’t a necessity to start a tech company. 

Your first goal should always be to define the problem you want to solve. Maybe you found a unique way to manage money, or see an opportunity in workshop management. How are you going to implement your solution? Who is your target market, and where do you see your startup in five years? 

Think big!

Non-techie founders need help from others who think big too. You don’t have to be a coder to know a tech startup requires intense online planning, building, and, most importantly, effort. There are hurdles to starting any business, but trying to start one outside your wheelhouse is daunting. 

Here are a few pieces of advice for launching a tech startup without being very tech-savvy.

Partner Up

You need help. You’ll need partners to handle turning your idea into a reality. As the saying goes, “you’re the brains, and they’re the brawn.” That sentiment becomes more prevalent as you dive deeper into your business plan, and you’ll notice your solutions are strategic and conceptual. It would help if you had someone to turn a concept into a product. 

Partnering up is a somewhat scary task since you are trusting your entire business idea to another person or group. How do you take your hands off your project like that?! It’s hard to give up control, especially to someone you don’t know yet.

Start with research. Understand how your needs and personality will match up with a partner. Maintaining creative control over your product is the top priority, but you need to understand not all of your concepts may be realistic. Try to find a partner that you can learn from and compromise with; otherwise, you might clash too much and not end up with the final product you want.

Learn

No, you don’t need to be an expert developer to launch a tech startup, but having some knowledge of the field helps immensely. You’re partnering with expert developers or development firms to do the heavy lifting, but take time to learn more about what they do. 

Look for courses to help teach yourself. Services like CodeAcademy offer courses, practice systems, and support to help you learn. You’ll see various coding languages and course guides to help you go in the right direction. CodeAcademy is one of the most popular because the basic courses are all free. There are tiered plans that include other helpful applications at a reasonable price.

Understanding what it takes to build a website or an application gives you an insight into how difficult the tech industry is. You’ll learn the ins and outs of what you want your product to do versus other businesses in your space. Most importantly, giving yourself more tech-savvy will help you collaborate better with your team. 

Use WordPress for your website

WordPress is the most popular content management system in the world. It powers 35% of all websites worldwide. Considering there are roughly 1.75 billion websites, and only half of them use content management systems, WordPress has a staggeringly huge piece of the pie. 

The main reason you should take the WordPress route is the built-in framework. WordPress does most of the essential building of your website for you and mostly operates using plugins to change displays and functionality. The least tech-savvy person on the planet can be up and running with a simple WordPress site in a day. 

For you, WordPress offers a unique opportunity. You can almost completely bypass the need for partnerships by learning to build your website. This way, your team collaboration can focus exclusively on the nuts and bolts of turning your idea into reality.

While WordPress is an intuitive system, we don’t want to give off the impression that building a professional-grade, functional website is simple. Again, you can refer to online courses for help. WordPress support is beneficial, and there are endless articles and posts with best practices for every skill level. 

Make a checklist

We really, really appreciate the need for a substantial pre-launch checklist. You can download our comprehensive website pre-launch list Here(Insert Link). Launching a tech startup is stressful, so creating a roadmap helps alleviate some of that stress. Since you’re working with a partner or a firm, a checklist can be a great way to measure benchmarks as you build. 

Checklists can also help make sure you don’t miss the little things. Help yourself map out marketing campaigns, build security processes, and make sure legal aspects are covered. The last thing you need is an oversight that could potentially sink your company’s chances of success.

Launch it

You had a great idea. Tech startups have been solving problems for decades, and now you can add your name to the list of innovators. You knew your strengths and weaknesses and built a company around them. Through partnerships, education, planning, and a lot of hard work, you’re ready to launch a tech startup despite having little to no tech-savvy. 

Always remember the work doesn’t end here. The tech industry continuously changes. Your company needs to innovate to keep up. That means continuing to learn your craft and innovating your product is crucial. You put so much effort into launching your startup; now it’s up to you to make it successful.

Still not sure where to begin? We’d love to chat with you about it! Schedule some Office Hours with our experts, and get started!

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Wix Alternative: Get More with Shamrck

Wix Alternative: Get More with Shamrck

Wix Alternative: Get More with Shamrck

 

 

Creating a website is a daunting task for many beginners and small businesses. Companies like Wix and WPClover offer tools and resources for website creation. Design and development can be painfully time-consuming. For business owners, this valuable time costs money and sacrifices customer service. The central part of creating a site is finding the right design to fit your brand. Working with premade themes and templates give you plenty of options and let you pick a look that works.

Wix and WPClover both offer templates to get started, but since WPClover offers WordPress built websites, you get more control over the final product. Wix provides an impressive portfolio of templates along with blank models to let you build from scratch. Wix also makes it easy to move around features like text boxes and images. It comes together into a customized but basic website. WPClover provides several templates, but the use of WordPress explodes the availability of custom plugins and themes.

WordPress is an incredibly powerful platform. One look at the back-end dashboard of a WordPress site amplifies the simplicity of Wix’s system. The dashboard may seem overwhelming, but it is easy to follow and make edits to your website. WPClover uses WordPress to help you design and develop the perfect site instead of settling for one that’s almost right. More than that, WPClover provides a team of experts to help each step of the way.

What is Wix?

Wix is a website building platform that offers free website creation and hosting. The company prides itself on providing ready-made websites for beginners and small businesses to create an online presence. Wix offers several options for website themes and templates and makes simple customization more accessible. The platform falls short in several areas, however.

The free version offers a set amount of options and build-outs, which may not meet your needs. You’ll also have to deal with Wix advertisements on your site unless you decide to buy into a subscription. The free version also doesn’t come with premium support, which is another add-on found in the subscription versions.

The ease of use and free hosting makes Wix an instant contender for anyone looking to start a website, but after a little more digging, we see the need to buy into a subscription. Wix offers four tiers of subscriptions. Mostly, the subscriptions help with removing ads to give your brand priority. You’ll start to get better support services, more storage, and the ability to connect your domain.

The biggest problem with using Wix is the utter lack of back-end help. There are no services to help with maintenance, scalable development, or automation. The platform doesn’t lend itself to anything more than putting content on a website.

You get what you pay for

Wix offers a free product, but it is so limited, users have little to no control over anything aside from what content goes on their website. Wix hosts their websites on physical servers around the world, which has a higher risk of security breaches and crashes. There are no health scans or performance monitoring.

The limited amount of storage on the free version is another enormous drawback. Photographers, bloggers, marketers, and other content-heavy businesses are forced to buy into the subscription tiers to get enough storage. Videographers have to buy into the subscription tiers merely to house 30 minutes or more of video.

Wix also forces customers to buy into a subscription to connect their domain. Regardless of if you already have one or get one through Wix, you won’t see any valuable analytics without connecting your domain. Google Analytics and Facebook Pixel are available but not on the free, basic product.

Get what you need

As a Wix alternative, WPClover offers website templates, design, development, hosting, and everything else with a comprehensive WordPress solution. Everything Wix offers for free and everything provided in the premium subscriptions are covered in the WPClover Starter kit. Wix focuses almost exclusively on the front-end of your website except for helpful web-apps. WPClover helps design and build your customer-facing content with expert advice. However, WPClover handles something much more crucial, maintenance.

WPClover’s cloud hosting gives you the peace of mind of a secure, fast server, and developing a site on WordPress opens many possibilities. The most valuable product offered in a WordPress solution is maintenance. WPClover continually monitors your website for potential security issues and keeps all of your plugins up-to-date to make sure your website is operating correctly.

The best part about a managed WordPress solution is knowing you’re getting the best website possible, regularly maintained, and with a team of experts in support of any needs. Unlike the rigid setup of Wix, WPClover allows you to make unlimited WordPress requests to add functionality or tweak your site for better performance. From your initial idea to launch day and beyond, WPClover makes sure you get the website you need without losing the time-consuming stress of securing and maintaining it.

Wix provides an inexpensive solution to a complicated problem. Your website is your face for your customers. If you only need your phone number and logo on a website, maybe a free, elementary website is the best choice. If you’re like most companies, you’ll want your website to stand out, showcase your brand, and customized to your exact needs.

Managed WordPress solutions provide all of those needs and much more at a manageable cost. Wix simply can’t begin to offer the same level of service on the front-end or back-end as WPClover. Building and managing a website is a daunting task to do right. You need a plan to help you save time and money on your way to an engaging product you can be proud of.

We would love the chance to talk more about your needs. Reach out today, so we can show you how much value a managed WordPress solution provides.

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Benefits of Appointment Scheduling for Small Businesses

Small business owners don’t have enough hours in the day. Full Stop. It feels like there is always too much work and not enough time, but realistically, some organization can free up time. Most owners have issues with organization and time management. That’s not to...

How to Retain Customers with Product Services

So many companies only focus on signing new customers. They offer special rates and sign-up discounts or spend thousands on marketing. However, the real profit comes from customer retention. Why pay more money to focus on new clients when you already have a customer...

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