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Updated: 1 hour 23 min ago

How to Create a Twitter Bot

Thu, 11/14/2019 - 08:00

A Twitter bot refers to an automated agent or an artificial intelligence tool that constantly structures and manages a subscribed twitter account. That is achieved based on the settings preferred by the social media account user. Bots are the main distributors of informative content on the Twitter platform, and most likely, you have interacted with a Twitter bot without knowing it.

These bots create automatic schedules for tasks that are relevant to your account. They can easily identify a trending vibe, like, and even retweet some tweets that match specific criteria. A Twitter bot can also follow some twitter users who’ve twitted a certain phrase.

You can build a Twitter bot that sends a direct message to people who follow you on Twitter. A brand can also create an auto-reply bot that mechanically responds each time the brand is mentioned on Twitter. These bots efficiently promote your profile by encouraging real individuals to follow you, growing your twitter connections more consistently. In this post, we will look at how you can create a Twitter bot and have it running in no time.

How to make a Twitter bot

The best thing about making a bot is that you do not need broad technical skills, which means you can produce your bot even if you are a novice Twitter user. The basic concept behind a Twitter bot is pretty simple. You only need to indicate a search phrase and then select an action. The Twitter bot will find all the tweets that match your search criteria and then perform the relevant action on all those tweets. From sending direct messages to auto-tweeting, Twitter bots provide you with a wide range of capabilities. Here are the steps you’ll have to follow to create your Twitter bot:

Step one: Create a developer account

To create your bot, you will have to create a developer account which you can do free of charge. To get started, go to developer.twitter.com and choose a user profile that can be associated with your bot. That can be your personal Twitter account, or you may consider creating a new account altogether. You can request developer access for personal use or on behalf of your organization.

You can select the personal use option if your Twitter bot is a side project. However, if you select the organization option, your Twitter bot will be associated with an organization. You will have to enter some essential details about the organization, such as the first country of operation, the industries you serve, where most of its clients reside in and its website URL.

Twitter also needs to understand why you are applying for a developer account. Whether the reason is to detect trends, curate tweets, or understand your target market, you’ll have to specify your intentions to get approved.

Step two: Create a Twitter application

After verifying your developer account, you should proceed and create your Twitter app. This application will be utilized to power your Twitter bot. On the developer webpage, click the Create an App button, which should bring you to figure two.

There are several details about your application you’ll have to specify before receiving access tokens and API keys. Give your application description, a name, and input any URLs in the website field. Agree to the developer’s terms and conditions and then submit the form.

Step three: Set up a development environment

You can program, test, and deploy Twitter bots in almost any development environment. Nevertheless, for simplicity purposes, we are going to use a Google script for some Twitter bots developed by a world-leading technology writer and CS engineer Amit Agarwal. You can see that in figure one.

Step four: Connect the development environment with your Twitter app

The development environment and your Twitter app should be able to communicate with each other for your Twitter bot to work. Start by locating the access tokens and API keys of your Twitter app. You can find this information next to your Twitter App details.

After that, you need to check your app’s permissions. By default, they’ll be set to ‘read and write,’ which means that your app can do basic Twitter functions. Nonetheless, if you would like your application to message users directly, click on ‘read, write, and then direct messages.’ After that, go to Agarwal’s script and then enter the four keys in their respective fields to connect the development environment with your Twitter app as shown in Figure three.

Step five: Program your bot

After linking the development environment with your Twitter app, now it’s time to program your Twitter bot. To do this, you need to enter your commands in the Twitter search box. This part is the most important section because Twitter wants to know what to look for.

Once you specify the search phrase for the Twitter bots, your Twitter app will look for all the tweets that match your search phrase and then process all of them, one by one.

Click the Save button to initialize your Twitter bot, and you are done. Your bots will be initialized, and they will run automatically in the background.

Step six: Test your bot

You can run some tests on your bot to see if it’s working as expected. Click the Check button near the bottom part of the script to check if there some logged in activities. If there are, you will be able to see the number of re-tweets on your Twitter handle with your customized hashtag.

About the author

Charlie Walterson is a professional software engineer who majors in the development and design of bot software applications. He runs an amazing blog about the best bots in the tech world. He also runs a blog website on these bots, and you can visit the site and learn how they can improve your business.

The post How to Create a Twitter Bot appeared first on SpyreStudios.

Categories: Design

Five Effective Website Tools for Successful Event Planning

Sun, 11/10/2019 - 21:34

These days, planning an event- whether a wedding, corporate event, club gathering, or birthday party- requires an online presence. At the very minimum, an email with event details carbon-copied to all attendees, or- if everyone is on Facebook (and who isn’t, these days?)- a Facebook Event page that allows guests to “RSVP” with a single tap.

Depending on what your event is, you may be considering having a dedicated website for your event. Here are five services to help you build an effective event website, including tips on figuring out which ones are best for your needs. (Please note that pricing below was current at the time of this post’s publication; you’ll want to check for any price changes).

Facebook Events (Free)

The aforementioned Event Page offering on Facebook is a good place to start, especially when your target guests or attendees are already on Facebook- for example, members of a Facebook Group. Features are basic, but simple to use: set up details of the event, including date, time, and location, add a few photos, and you’re ready. It’s easy to set privacy on your Event, and for events open to the public such as workshops, publishing on the Facebook Calendar may be a good way to draw people in.

Tip: best for general events, both free and paid. Guests and attendees must be on Facebook. We suggest creating a Facebook Event page in addition to one of the other options on this list, especially if you’re planning a larger event.

Eventbrite (Free or Paid)

Perhaps the largest, most well-known event-planning service online, Eventbrite is feature-rich and well-supported. Like most of the paid options here, the service is free for free events, making it a good choice for both private parties and public festivals. Pricing for paid events currently starts at 2% of the ticket price and $0.79 per paid ticket, plus a 2.5% processing fee per transaction, and they offer different packages according to your needs.

Tip: syncs well with Facebook events, which is wonderful for promotions and sales, especially when you’re planning a large event with many attendees.

Eventzilla (Free or Paid)

We like how Eventzilla simplifies things with a nifty slider on their Pricing page that shows how much your attendees will pay depending on ticket price (in six currencies!), and whether you pass fees on to them, or absorb fees yourself. Even better, however, are their feature-rich services, which include custom registration pages, emails, badges, reminders, discounts, and a well thought-out user experience for both manager and user. We’re also liking the ability to send personalized and targeted email campaigns to your imported contact lists; a great way to boost your event attendance. Their Basic package is $1.25 ticket, with a popular Pro package with fees of 1.9% plus $0.99 per ticket.

Tip: the simplest solution for busy event managers. Be sure to check out their integrations, which allows you to seamlessly sync with Facebook, Twitter, and more.

Attendify (Custom Event App, Paid)

For larger events such as business conferences, Attendify offers something a little different- and very cool: your own “event app”, using their proprietary drag and drop system, which can then be published on iOS and Android App stores. Customization is powerful, featuring everything from user registration and management, maps, notifications- even analytics to help you measure your event performance and return on investment. Creating your own event app costs from $999 for a regular event, to $1999 for one branded event, or $2999 for multiple branded events. Registration management is 2.5% + $1 per ticket sold.

Tip: your custom app comes with a free event website, which automatically syncs with any changes to your app. It’s easy to set up, and is helpful for your users and visitors who prefer not to download an app.

Zola (Wedding Sites, Free)

Planning a wedding? You’ll need something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue- and a website, too. A great way to manage guests and publish important event information, even the smallest weddings can benefit from having one- and so far, Zola is our favourite. It features nearly 300 wedding website templates to choose from, all of them completely free and easy to set up. Management features allow your guests to RSVP or shop your (Zola) registry, as well as keep your website private to you and your guests.

Tip: you can use your own domain name for an additional $14.95/year, and Zola will help connect it to your wedding website.

Bonus Tip! If you’re looking for wedding website solutions, also check out Joy, another free service we’re quite impressed with.

Do you have a favourite event-planning service we missed?

The post Five Effective Website Tools for Successful Event Planning appeared first on SpyreStudios.

Categories: Design

How Website Designers Can Create New Revenue Streams by Monetizing Their Knowledge

Thu, 11/07/2019 - 08:00

Your area of expertise is in web design, but does that mean the only way you can make money is through the hours of work you spend building websites? Of course not. 

It’s not just your skills that are valuable. Your knowledge is, too.

Monetize Your Knowledge; Create New Revenue Streams

Think about how many prospects you’ve spoken to who passed on your proposal either because the price was too high or they convinced themselves that they could do it on their own. Now imagine how many other people share that mentality of “I’ll just do it myself”. 

You’ve seen enough websites to know that there are too many people who’ve tried to build their own site and did a poor job of it.  

And what about those fledgling designers who are starved for high-quality information on web design, marketing, SEO, and other tips of the trade you’ve acquired while building websites? Spend enough time in a web design or marketing Facebook group and you’ll soon realize there are lots of people asking questions and not enough providing valuable answers. 

You could easily give this information away for free through blogging and YouTube video tutorials… But why would you do that?

If the information is of great value and helps the end user build the website of their dreams (which will, in turn, make them more money), you need to monetize your knowledge. Just make sure you target the right niche, meaning that it should be an industry that is also profitable.

So, how do you do this as a web designer? Well, you have a number of options: 

1) Blogging + Affiliate Marketing

If you’re in the business of building websites, your own website needs to be an inspirational destination of its own. You’re going to do this by entertaining and educating visitors, new and old, with a blog (or vlog or podcast, based on what you’re most comfortable with). 

That said, a blog is not something you can charge for unless you’re a powerhouse news site like The New York Times or you’re publishing proprietary research on a regular basis. What you can do, instead, is provide personal recommendations for tools, services, and other companies that you actually use and trust and that pay for affiliate links or ads. 

According to The Affiliate Marketing Report from Business Insider Intelligence: 

“Publishers still generate the bulk of their revenue from advertising, but affiliate marketing is growing faster, per our sources. Approximately 15% of the digital media industry’s revenue now comes from affiliate marketing.”

Luckily for you as a web designer, there are many third-party relationships you can leverage into affiliate partnerships: 

  • Web hosting companies
  • Domain name providers
  • Premium WordPress themes or plugins
  • Productivity software
  • Development tools

There are a number of ways in which you can promote affiliate links on your blog, too. 

Here is an example from our own site on our Wix review page:

You can see that underneath the video there is an affiliate link. This one is very effective as a high percentage of the visitors watching the video clicks it. 

In the sidebar you can see a sticky section that will stay even when scrolling down the page, which also contains the affiliate link.

Smack Happy shows us another way of handling this: 

You can use affiliate text links if you’d rather spare your server the trouble of handling additional images or processing API requests from an affiliate network like CJ Affiliate, Impact, or Awin

What’s more, you can list them out the way Smack Happy does or you can embed them within your posts. In fact, the latter is the most effective way to get paid through affiliate marketing. More specifically, if you write content on specific tools (like a roundup on the best time tracker software), include their affiliate links as you mention them in the post. Then, watch as more visitors click through to learn more about the tools you so strongly recommend.

2) Podcasting + Sponsorships

If, instead, you prefer the video or audio “blogging” route, you can get companies to sponsor your podcast. Just be sure to follow the same rule of thumb as affiliate marketing in blogging — you want sponsors to be relevant to your content to increase the likelihood that listeners/viewers will click on the links. 

Check out this example from developers Dave Rupert and Chris Coyier who host the ShopTalk podcast

Each episode has two sponsors, each of which pays $1,000 for an ad placement. And the sponsors are highly relevant to the podcast’s subject matter, too. Companies like Flywheel, Discover.bot, and Jetpack have sponsored recent episodes.

Bottom line: you get to produce the kind of content you want while getting paid to promote relevant and useful tools for your audience.

3) Premium Video Tutorials

A lot of time has been spent studying how consumers engage with video. It’s no surprise, really, when you consider how short attention spans have become and how easy video is to digest. 

According to Hubspot’s State of Inbound 2018, 72% of people choose to watch video instead of reading text about products and services on a website. By that same logic, they should prefer educational video tutorials over textual ones. 

What’s nice about this option is that, even if you are not comfortable sitting in front of a camera, you don’t have to when crafting tutorials on web design. After all, the viewers aren’t here to listen to you talk about your feelings on web design; they want to see you put your knowledge and skills into action. 

To make money doing this, you have two options: 

A) Create a large repository of video tutorials and publish them to your website.

The reason why I say that you need a large repository is because you’re not going to want to charge customers for a one-off glance at a video. It’s just not cost-effective for them. Instead, you need to create a monthly or annual membership that gives paying customers unfettered access to your ever-growing archive of video tutorials. 

If you want to see an example of this in action, visit the Interaction Design Foundation’s website where they offer online course access with a membership.

B) Publish tutorials to an online course marketplace like Skillshare or Udemy.

The content is still yours to own, but you won’t have the pressure of creating large quantities of video tutorials on a regular basis. 

Instead, create tutorials and upload at your leisure. In exchange, you get paid a percent commission each month based on how much time people spend watching your videos. You can also make money by referring others to the platform and getting them to sign up for a subscription.

Digital Downloads

If you’d like to build something that others can download and use to make their job of building a website easier, consider creating a digital download. What you build will depend on your area of expertise. 

One way you can make money from digital downloads is by writing an ebook and selling it on your website. 

InDesignSecrets is one such website that does this, though they put a unique spin on how they get visitors to “buy” the ebook: 

As you can see from the two membership plans, members get a whole bunch of stuff for free — including blogs and tutorials. However, there are a number of digital downloads they get with the paid membership, including an ebook as well as an InDesign template. 

Templates and licensable graphics are another great option for sellable web design products.

As with video tutorials, though, you don’t want to sell templates piecemeal on your website unless you’ve designed at least a couple dozen of them — or you have one that’s really taken off. A good example of this is Elegant Themes

Although the WordPress theme and plugin developer has over 80 themes and a small handful of plugins for sale on its website, Divi is its biggest draw (and for good reason).

If you have yet to reach that point, look to marketplaces where you can sell your licensable resources, like the Envato marketplace.  

Envato has a number of marketplaces dedicated to the sale of specific kinds of goods: 

If you manage your listings well on these sites and work on keeping customers satisfied with your digital products, you can build a lot of authority this way. 

Why Web Designers Should Monetize Their Knowledge

By monetizing the knowledge you have around web design and turning it into a sellable product, you can sell your expertise to exponentially more clients simultaneously.

It’s not just the increase in revenue you should be excited about either. By selling knowledge products — either through your website or an online marketplace — you’ll amass more authority in your space. This’ll be helpful in attracting leads and closing more business; ultimately, driving even more money into your web design business. 

About the author

Robert‘s passion has always been web tools that make your life easier. That’s why he founded the WebsiteToolTester, where you can find reviews and tutorials for the world’s best website builders, e-commerce platforms, and hosting solutions.

The post How Website Designers Can Create New Revenue Streams by Monetizing Their Knowledge appeared first on SpyreStudios.

Categories: Design

10 Social Media WordPress Plug-Ins To Keep Your Blog Relevant

Mon, 11/04/2019 - 03:27

We’re nearing the end of 2019, and more and more people have been asking: are blogs still relevant? We like to think that Twitter, Instagram, SnapChat and Facebook don’t need to be blog killers, but – like most technology- tools that can be used to enhance our blog readers’ experience.

We’re talking about more than just little social media sharing buttons at the bottom of your posts, of course- today’s users, we who tap from one app to another on our smartphones, are looking for something more to bridge the gap between blogs and social networks. Here are our top ten tried and tested WordPress plugins for bridging that gap- including some insider tips on using the plug-ins to your best advantage. Some are free, some are paid, some are freemium- and they are all awesome.

WordPress to Buffer
(Free for Regular version, 39USD/year for Pro version)

If you aren’t using something like Buffer yet, you should be. A tool for publishing your posts to all the major social networks on a schedule, this plug-in allows you to automatically send Buffer your posts and pages directly from your WordPress dashboard. Set up of both Buffer and the plug-in is a breeze, and can be a lifesaver for the busiest of bloggers.

The Regular version (free) posts to Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn, while a Pro account adds Instagram and Pinterest support, as well as a slew of other options for customization.

Tip: Try the Regular version first to see if it suits your own personal workflow.

Smash Balloon Social Photo Feeds (Free)

If you have both a blog and an IG account, this one’s a must. It does one thing: display your Instagram feed on your blog. The difference between this and other solutions? It works like a dream. Set up is simple, customization is powerful, and it includes nifty things like being able to post multiple feeds on a page (for those of us who manage more than one Instagram account), as well as supports custom CSS and Javascript for more tweaking.

Tip: Do you have a Facebook Page? Set up syncing with Instagram so that IG posts to both your Facebook Page and your Blog automatically.

Revive Old Posts (USD75 for Personal / USD149 for Business / USD299 for Marketer)

This one shows up on a lot of Top Ten WP Plugin lists- and for a very good reason. It’s particularly useful if you’ve been blogging for a long time, allowing you to breathe new life into old content by posting and reposting it on your social media networks. Set up is a breeze, with options for customization and scheduling. Note that Revive Old Posts is paid- but worth every penny, we think.

Tip: Also check out Revive Network from the same team, which helps you grow your professional network (and good will!) by sharing relevant posts from other blogs on your social media accounts, and notifying the authors.

Sassy Social Share (Free)

I know I mentioned going further than allowing your visitors to share, but with dozens of sharing button options out there, we think Sassy shines. Clean code, lovely design choices, and- the bonus for me-  includes “social counts” that work very well. That the icons are SVG (Scalable Vector Graphics) means that things remain beautiful at various screen sizes and resolutions- from your smartphone to your mega-sized monitor.

Tip: This plug-in also works well with WooCommerce, so you can enable sharing for individual products.

Flow Flow Social Streams (Free for Lite version / USD36 one-time for Pro version)

All of your social network feeds in one place- that’s what Flow Flow does, perhaps best illustrated by this demo screenshot:

As you can see, it’s a great way to keep track of “everything you”- from SoundCloud clips to Tweets to Pins to Facebook shares. Note that the Lite version offers support for only four social networks, so if you’re active on more networks, you might want to invest in the Pro version.

Tip: You can include feeds from your other blogs as well as advertisements.

Social Login ($10)

Many users (including this author) prefer to use a single login for many services these days- Social Login is a paid plug-in that allows you to offer just that on your blog: have visitors and commenters login using their Facebook, Twitter, Google, Instagram etc. profiles. This is a good way to add extra security as well, if you’re allowing visitor accounts. Because it’s a paid plug-in, you can expect support from the developers as well.

Tip: Also works well with BuddyPress and WooCommerce for those running community or ecommerce websites.

Social Warfare (Free for Regular version / $29 for Pro version on a single site yearly)

If Sassy (see above) wasn’t fancy enough for you, you’ll want to take a look at Social Warfare- especially the Pro version. It includes beautiful social sharing buttons, but the “warfare” here means that they *get serious.* That means extra things like custom images, titles, and descriptions on shared posts (giving you more control), Twitter share cards, social share counts, and analytics integration- so you can see how you’re doing.

Tip: The Pro version works wonderfully with Google Analytics, where you can track inbound links from shares and how many times each button is clicked.

Swifty Bar (Free)

Today more than ever, the user is king. Swifty Bar, which inserts a sticky bar at the bottom of each post, understands this- and gives direction to your reader by displaying the post’s category, title, sharing options, previous/next links, and even the average time needed to read the article.

Tip: The latest version includes a share count, which may be useful in case you prefer not to use a separate plug-in for that.

YouTube Gallery ($39)

Run a YouTube channel? This is the WordPress plug-in to look at. Again, it’s a paid product- and again, worth it. YouTube viewers are visual, so customization is key- and this plug-in offers it in spades, from over a hundred adjustable parameters and four color schemes. Scaling works well, so your visitors can view comfortably from any device, and it’s easy to install and set up.

Tip: You can use shortcodes or set up videos in a widget. A Visual Composer is included as well, for easier page building.

Jetpack Sharing (Free setting on Jetpack)

If you’re running WordPress’ own Jetpack on your blog, this should be the minimum social media solution you should use. A setting on Jetpack rather than a standalone plug-in, it gives you sharing buttons for most of the major social networks, with the option to create and customise your own.

Tip: The Email sharing option is nifty, but requires that you use the Akismet plug-in or explicitly enable it in your functions.php file.

Do you have a favorite social media plug-in for WordPress that we haven’t mentioned here? Let us know about it in the comments.

The post 10 Social Media WordPress Plug-Ins To Keep Your Blog Relevant appeared first on SpyreStudios.

Categories: Design

Storytelling in Design: How to Create Compelling Website Designs

Fri, 11/01/2019 - 05:00

Storytelling in design is powerful. It can lay an obstacle-free path for your visitors and help them reach a conversion point.

But this is only true if you knock them off their feet with one thing:

A great storytelling experience!

So in this post, I’ll discuss how you can leverage the power of storytelling in design.

By using design elements to communicate your ideas and thoughts, you can turn visitors into customers and increase your sales.

Present your vision clearly

You need to create a story that delivers a message. And as you deliver this message, make sure to do it clearly. Otherwise, your visitors will walk away with the wrong impression.

You don’t want that. It defeats the purpose of giving out a message.

So start by asking this question:

“What is the main message that I want my target audience to receive?”

Find out the answer and let it sink in. Once done, it’s time to present your story around this.

Just look at it like this: you’re acknowledging a problem and also providing the solution. What this does is make people feel good about visiting your website.

And by doing this, you’re acing it in terms of UX (user experience). And for working towards a better UX, you deserve a pat on the back.

UX, after all, is imperative in getting people to come and go. Take it from 68% of visitors who leave due to bad UX. If you don’t make way for your visitors to have a good time on your site, you can bid farewell to more than the majority of them.

This user-friendly storytelling site, Oat the Goat, knows the importance of a good UX and is a perfect lead to follow. Its main message is about kindness and empathy, acceptance, and tolerance. And using different stories, it nails the job.

Through simple words and vibrant pictures, it communicates the message effectively. And to strengthen its connection with the audience, it offers two language options (Maori and English).

It also features three reading modes (Read, Read it to me, and Watch). This encourages visitors to freely read each story based on their unique needs.

Save The Air is another example of an awesome storytelling website with a clear message. What it’s trying to convey is simple: save the environment. And if you want to know how to make it happen, head on over to its site for details.

Now if that’s all there is to it, wouldn’t it be a boring site?

So of course, it goes beyond by featuring real-life sounds and animations for realism to kick in.

Value your words

Visuals are important. They attract people and increase engagement levels.

If you want a ticket to getting people to pay attention to what you have to say, adding visuals will take you there.

Find this questionable? Then allow this fact to clear the air:

Blog posts with images get 94% more views.

It just goes to show that you can get more people to spare you some time, which just confirms how compelling visuals are.

And if you want to take matters to the next level, turn to the power of words. When using storytelling for sales, an excellent strategy is to combine visuals with words.

Think about it. Visuals, on their own, are compelling. Words, on their own, are compelling, too. And if you put them together, you just hit the jackpot.

Take it from S4X. It does an amazing job of introducing a digital marketing agency, Station Four. What it does is sprinkle colorful words and illustrations to get its message across.

The result? A more effective website!

Another example is Peugeot HYbrid4’s presentation of its hybrid graphic novel. It’s a storytelling website that treats visitors to jaw-dropping illustrations.

If they decide to embark on the journey that the site offers, they’re in for the time of their lives. With the right recipe of visuals and words, it’s not hard to get lost in the virtual reality.

And apart from the illustrations, relevant background sounds are also part of the deal. Sounds of windows smashing and dogs barking make for a more immersive experience.

Final thoughts

Some sites have fewer resources compared to others. But they land in as good a position as their competitors.

Their secret? They’re masters at letting stories and design work wonders for them. If you’re playing the same angle, why not check out this 160-page digital product by Ellen Lupton: Design is Storytelling (.pdf)? As it acknowledges the connection between storytelling and design, it can teach you how to make both elements work wonders for you

The post Storytelling in Design: How to Create Compelling Website Designs appeared first on SpyreStudios.

Categories: Design

Easy to Follow SEO Best Practices for Web Designers

Thu, 10/31/2019 - 08:00

Most graphic and website designers have a general knowledge about what search engine optimization (SEO) is and why it’s important. However, many still think that SEO is not relevant to the design process or can be implemented after the website is designed. Unfortunately, both of these beliefs are false. 

How Web Design Impacts SEO

Website design and search engine optimization go hand in hand. If a designer ignores SEO best practices when creating a website design, this can negatively impact the site’s future SEO. Similarly, if SEO is implemented on the website with complete disregard for design best practices, it will negatively impact the user experience

While it’s crucial for web designers to consider SEO when creating designs, it’s not essential that they have a comprehensive understanding of SEO. Rather, most website designers simply need to understand SEO best practices for design and keep an eye on how design is impacting SEO and vice versa. 

SEO Best Practices for Design

The core function of search engine optimization is to tell search engines what your website is all about and make it easy for them to serve up the website to people searching for information. 

Below are a few basic things to keep in mind as you design your next website. 

Image Format and File Size 

Did you know that Google and other search engines penalize sites that load slowly? The most common reason a website loads slowly (also known as “pagespeed”) is because of the images. Images that are too large or the wrong file format will choke pagespeed, negatively impacting SEO AND causing a poor user experience

Start by choosing the right type of image format:

  • GIF – Use if your image needs to be animated
  • JPEG – Use if you don’t need a high image resolution
  • PNG – Use if you need high image resolution (Source: Moz)

Next, make sure you are sizing the images properly. Don’t rely on a developer to resize the image. If it’s a thumbnail, make it a smaller size. If it only needs to be 700 pixels by 500 pixels, size it as such. 

Need more in-depth information? Read more about image optimization from the Google development team

Image Naming

Every designer has their own process for naming images. Many designers follow a naming convention that includes the client name, project or webpage, and either a date or the image dimensions. What does all this tell search engines? Absolutely nothing! 

While you may use your own naming conventions for the image files you store on your server or computer, you need to optimize the names of the images for search engines for several reasons. First, the images on the website will be indexed and shown for relevant searches on Google and other search engines. Second, the image names will be read by screen readers for users that need different accessibility. 

For these reasons, it’s important to apply more practical names and/or names that contain keywords. Now, it’s OK to name an image something like “company-homepage-main-accounting-firm.” This example includes the company name, the page location (for internal reference), the placement on the page (main image), and the keywords accounting firm. This tells search engines what the image is and gives them clues on how to index it. It also gives clues to anyone using a screen reader about what is on the page. 

Image Alt Text

As website designers, we tend to have a lot of images for each project we work on. Naming the image files so they are SEO-friendly is one thing, but including alt text seems like an additional step. Before you dismiss this best practice as too much work, alt text helps quite a bit with SEO and is worth the additional effort. 

While you likely want to follow a simplified naming convention for image files, alt text gives you a chance to really describe the image. Again, this is beneficial to SEO and accessibility. In many cases, the alt text may be a more comprehensive description of the file name. 

Using the same example as above, if the homepage image for the accounting firm’s website is a group of individuals sitting at a table discussing a financial plan, you can include all that in the alt text. For example, great alt text might be “accounting team discussing next year’s financial plan.”   

Incorporating Header Tags 

Header tags on a website are instrumental to the optimization of each webpage. If you aren’t familiar with a header tag, it’s the H1, H2, H3, etc. on the page. A common way that designers inadvertently sabotage SEO is by replacing headers with images, which is bad for SEO

Another common issue is not including header tags in the design or inverting the stylistic order (making the H2 visually bigger than the H1, or the H3 bigger than the H1). While you likely have a good design reason for any of the above, keep in mind that header tags are critical to SEO as they contain the most important keywords for the page and cue search engines and users on what the page is about. 

For example, if someone is reading a webpage but the H3 is visually larger than the H2, they may jump to the H3 and skip over the H2, thinking it is more important. However, the search engine will do the reverse, thinking the H2 is more important than the H3. This can lead to confusion or misidentification of what is important on the page and negatively affect SEO. 

A best practice is to: 

  • Always include an H1 on a webpage and make it clearly visible.
  • Include H2, H3, and H4 if it is logical for the copy on the page.
  • Design the header tags so visually they are descending in size (and importance). 
Hierarchy in Navigation

When it comes down to it, website navigation is not the sexiest or most exciting part of website design. However, when it comes to web design, the navigation must be more functional than beautiful. This doesn’t mean that you can’t use interesting visuals for the navigation, it just means that it needs to follow logic. 

There are a couple of things that website designers do that drive SEOs crazy, but design practices that affect SEO negatively are ignoring hierarchy in the navigation and including topics in the navigation that are dead links. When designing the navigation, ensure that all the subpages under the main navigation are clearly labeled and easy to access. While you may wish to simplify the navigation, search engines expect the navigation to follow logic and include all subpages. 

Below is an example of the navigation for my agency’s website. When a user is on the website, everything listed in the navigation is clickable and links to a page. There is no duplication and there are no dead links. It all functions as it appears on the page. It would be very confusing to a user or a search engine if, for example, the services tab didn’t link to the services page or didn’t link to a page at all. In addition to being confusing, that type of example would lead to visual clutter. 

Best SEO Advice for Web Designers

These five best practices are basic things website designers can incorporate into their designs to set a website up for SEO success. This is not an all-inclusive list, so if you want to dive deeper into how you can positively contribute to optimizing your designs for search engines and the user experience, I suggest following an SEO source like Search Engine Land or Search Engine Journal for the latest tips from SEO experts. You can also follow the Google Developer’s blog, but these first two are more accessible for non-developers or us creatives. 

About the Author

Kara Jensen is the Creative Principal and founder of Bop Design, a B2B marketing and web design agency. At the agency, she pours her creativity into the conception and art direction of client marketing initiatives. Dedicated to communicating each client’s unique business value, Kara forges connections with target markets through strategic design and high-impact marketing concepts. Connect with her on LinkedIn.

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Categories: Design

Simple Tactics to Improve Your Website’s User Experience

Wed, 10/30/2019 - 08:22

If you are a business owner in this digital age, chances are a lot of your business funding has gone into the development of your business website and the improvement of your digital presence. So much so that you now need schemes like debt help UK to help you resolve some of your financial hurdles (like your business loans and council tax debt) with bailiffs like Capital Resolve –. But what is more disturbing is the fact that despite all you’ve spent, there seems not to be many results in terms of customer conversion and revenue generation.

So now you cannot help but wonder why your website hasn’t been enjoying so much conversion? Could it be your SEO setup? Maybe your CMS isn’t the best, or perhaps your visitors are simply not enjoying what you are offering them (poor user experience). As much as SEO helps you rank higher, analytics help you perform better, and marketing draws traffic to your platform, if you don’t offer visitors something unique and attention-grabbing, there is no way they will come back.

This is why we will now show you how you can improve the user experience of your website so that traffic will not only keep flowing in, but it will transmit into customer conversion.

How to improve website user experience Make use of conventions

As much as you may want to make your business website unique in its appearance and features, you also need to stick – to a certain degree – with conventions. Why do I need to use conventions in my website? Some may quip. Well, it is because people are used to those conventions, and when they visit your website, they expect to find similar conventions. Once they don’t find these conventions, your website becomes too tasking for them to navigate, and before you know it, they are on your competitor’s page. Even though you don’t pay much attention to them, these conventions are pretty crucial. For starters, these conventions are essential:

  • Logo placed on the top-left corner
  • Main navigation menu placed highest up on the page, on the right side, or centred
  • Contact included in the main navigation menu
  • Sign-up form in the footer
Properly distinguish texts

There is nothing more discouraging for a website visitor than a shambolic arrangement of website texts. When visitors come to your website, they expect to find everything explicitly written, explained, and arranged. So, when they find the text to be jam-packed, chock-full, or stuffed, they are put off. Text in website content should be easily distinguishable to enhance readability. Usually, there are about three levels to this, namely:

  • Title (H1)
  • Headings (H2)
  • Sub-Headings (H3)
Text Format

Creating content for a website is quite different from writing texts in a Microsoft Word Office document. When it comes to improving the user experience on your website, you need to format the content texts in the best way possible to make them appear appealing and engaging to readers. When it comes to text formatting in the website world, there are some popular choices, namely: Sans-serif fonts, such as Arial, Helvetica, and the likes. These types of fonts appear better on digital screens, and they are easier to read on phones and computers unlike serif fonts like Georgia or Times New Roman.

Heading is King

Did you know that most people who visit your website don’t even have the time to read the full content on the website? Once they click on your page, they just skim through, read the headings, and if they find it engaging, then they will go through the details. But what if you don’t create your website with headings? Well, you know what to expect – poor or low conversion. Therefore, it is important that you format the content on your website with proper headings to improve user experience on the website. Otherwise, you will only be spending hundreds of pounds on digital marketing without getting any result in return – a situation that can run your business into debt, and make you start wondering what is IVA.

Well-designed websites don’t shout

Contrary to what many designers might have you believe, your website doesn’t need to be too colourful or cluttered to grab attention. In fact, too many popups, animations, unnecessary clutter, and loads of intrusion are so bad for business. Imagine you visit a website, and before you could even click a page, you’ve had about three to four popups already intruding on your activity on the site. Such a site is clearly disorganized and doesn’t offer much in terms of excellent user experience.

Navigation is Key

Just the way you wouldn’t like to miss your road on a new street, visitors love it when they are properly guided through a website. When a person is browsing through your website, the last thing they want is to get lost. The site navigation should let users know where they are and how they can get anywhere on the site.

Photos courtesy of gettyimages.com

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Categories: Design

Should You Provide Your Design Clients With Web Hosting?

Mon, 10/28/2019 - 20:38

Clients expect you to be the expert in all things technical. 

Clients are happy to pay you to make their life easier.

Does that mean you should provide web hosting as an optional extra to go along with your website designs? 

Maybe, maybe not.

All-Inclusive Web Design Packages

Design clients may be tech-phobic and see you as the answer to ALL their technology problems. These clients will probably want you to host their website as well as design it. 

Hosting client sites could be another income stream. 

It might also become a royal pain in the posterior.

Explaining Web Hosting to Your Clients

You know more about hosting than your client, so it IS part of your job to explain the basics to help the client to make the best decision – That domains need to be bought every year, that hosting is a third-party service, and that an SSL certificate is all but essential for maximum credibility with users.

Clients rarely understand how websites are hacked, so educate yours on the basics of security: Installing security plugins to WordPress, updating plugins, and using a WP theme that is supported rather than a basic free theme.

The best way to explain the principles of web hosting is to use the image below.

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

Compare the web host’s server to a brain holding all their web pages. The brain needs to be connected to the Internet to allow would-be users to read those web pages. 

Not all web hosts are created equal just as not all brains are created equal. Not all connections are equal either. 

Recommend your client to use a hosting review site to find a cheap web hosting company.  There are good cheap web hosts, but many free and low-cost hosting providers use out-dated technology and poor internet connections to keep costs down. Your client’s website will only load quickly if the hosting company uses top quality technology.

Screenshot source

The screenshot above shows a selection of reputable low-cost web hosts.

Pros & Cons of Hosting Your Clients’ Sites For Your Client

Everything is good. It keeps everything simple. They only deal with you for everything related to their site.

For You

Pros include an ongoing income stream, continued contact with the client.

Cons include continued contact with the client. See below.

Your Client Hosting Options
  1. Use your own multi-site hosting account
  2. Use a reseller account
  3. Refer clients to a hosting company you trust and you help them get set up

The first – using your own hosting account has multiple unpleasant possibilities. These include security issues and your own sites being slowed down by plugins your client installs without your knowledge.

The second sounds ideal. It isn’t. Your client will have their own login on your reseller account, but you are responsible for all technical support: If the client is a true technophobe, then your email is going to ding six times a day, every day, preventing you concentrating on the design work you love. If you decide the income from a reseller account is something you need, then hire a support team on one of the freelancing sites and let them handle the inevitable client queries

The third option is the only one you should consider. You earn a one-off commission, you help your client with the logging on process, which is pretty simple, and you then hand any other issues off to the hosting company’s technical support team. Stay in touch with the client and at the end of the contract decide if another web host will be a better match for their needs going forward, earning another referral commission if the client changes hosting providers.

In Brief

You are a designer, not a WordPress or hosting expert. If you take on the hosting of your clients’ sites then you open yourself to being pressured into spending hours every week on technical support jobs that you may loathe.

Do your research and refer clients to a hosting company that has high quality 24/7 support staff. You set the client up with reliable hosting, earn an affiliate commission, and say goodbye. Any other way, you have endless phone calls and emails from clients who have messed up their websites and want you to fix them. This destroys your reputation as a designer, even though the issues are not design-related.

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Categories: Design

10 Ways to Be a Successful Freelance WordPress Web Developer

Mon, 10/28/2019 - 08:00

Many people dream of working from home so they can spend more time with their family and have a flexible schedule that is not subject to someone else’s control but are unsure just how to go about it.  One way to make your dream come true and work from home is by becoming a Freelance WordPress Web Developer. 

All businesses today, regardless of size, need a website to advertise and sell their products and services, and as a freelancer, you can fill this niche and fulfill your dream of working from home.

Before you go quitting your day job, it is crucial to make sure you have what it takes to become successful in your freelancer journey.  Dreams can take time to come true so make sure you do your research and have the skills necessary to become successful, listed below are some of the attributes you will need to make it as a Freelance WordPress Web Developer:

Learn the Necessary Technical Skills

You need to have the necessary coding skills in order to take full advantage of the WordPress platform.  While WordPress does make it easier to interface, the more knowledge and experience you have, the better and more professional websites you can build, leading to higher-paying clients.  You are only limited by the amount of time and effort you choose to put into learning coding skills and keeping up with coding trends.  The more you know, the more successful you will be.

Learn Customer Service 

To become a successful Web Developer, you will need to know more than computers and coding; you will need excellent customer service skills as well.  Strong customer service skills are necessary to find and keep clients.  It is important to understand your clients are paying for a service, and the more they spend, the more they expect, so you need to make sure you can deal with the demand’s clients will place on you.  It is vital to be able to communicate with the client and understand their specific wants and needs as well as keep updating them constantly.  

Improve Your Problem-Solving Skills

You will need to make sure you have excellent problem-solving skills to become a successful Web Developer.  When dealing with clients and coding, there will inevitably be problems that arise that you will need to know how to deal with quickly and effectively.  The ability to think and act quickly when facing a problem can mean the difference between a happy client and an unhappy one.  The ability to problem-solve is essential in the freelance world as you no longer have managers and coworkers to help you through a problem as a freelancer it sits squarely on your shoulders so make sure you can handle problem-solving before taking the leap into full-time freelance work

Niche Down 

To become a successful Freelance WordPress Developer, you will want to find a niche that you are good at and focus on that to save time and make more money.  While some web developers prefer to be generalized, finding a niche allows you to become an expert in that type of business and provide a better service to your clients. 

Read: Top 20 WordPress 5.0 Themes for Niche Sites

This will also allow you to keep up with the current trends in that niche and not become overwhelmed.  For example, if you have experience or interest in real estate, you may want to make this your niche, or dentistry, automobiles, etc. the possibilities are limitless.

Be Passionate

While becoming a freelancer may help to fulfill your dream of working from home and setting your own hours, but it is vital that you be passionate about what you are doing.  It will not be easy switching to working for someone else and receiving a steady paycheck to freelancing and being responsible for finding and generating income, and if you lack the passion or drive, it will be nearly impossible.  You will need to be prepared to perform work you are not getting paid for like bookkeeping, finding clients, and keeping up with market trends.  If you are passionate about what you are doing, this will be easy; if you are not, you may want to consider another career.

Stay Organized

To become a successful freelancer, you must be organized!  I cannot emphasize the importance of organization.  You must be disciplined with your time and create a schedule to perform work for clients but also mundane tasks, including accounting and research.  Without organization, you will find yourself lost and losing clients as you are not able to complete work on time.  Clients are not paying you for excuses; they are paying you for work, so make sure you have the necessary organization skills before you decide to become a freelancer.

Network to Get Clients 

One of the keys to becoming a successful Web Developer is the ability to network.  Building a network of clients will take time and effort, so be prepared to do a lot of leg work before you begin seeing profits.  As the famous quote by John Heywood states, “Rome wasn’t built in a day,” neither will your business.  You will need to create a portfolio website where potential clients can visit and get a better understanding of who you are and what you have to offer.  

Be Persistent

A vital attribute of a successful person, in general, is persistence.  Clients aren’t going to magically appear and give you money; you will need to take the time and effort to actively seek out clients.  Persistence will allow you to push through the tough times and will enable you to achieve your goal of becoming a successful Freelance WordPress Web Developer.  Make sure you set realistic goals and make an effort to meet them; the only one holding you back from your dream is you.

Go the Extra Mile

It is essential that you make yourself available to clients around the clock and go the extra mile to make sure they are happy with the product or service you are providing.  In today’s world, business is conducted around the clock, and if a client has an idea or needs to change something, they must have a way to contact you, luckily with email and text messages, you can make yourself available 24/7.  The happier your clients are, the more referrals you will get, and the more money you will make.   

Keep Learning 

It is vital to your success as a freelancer that you keep learning.  Technology and market trends are constantly changing, and it is up to you to change with them.  If you fail to change and grow, you will end up with a boring product that clients will not be willing to pay for.  This will take time and effort, but in the end, it will be worth it.  If you can stay ahead of your competitors and provide new and fresh content for your clients, you will find the effort it took to keep up will lead to more profit.

Conclusion 

The only thing holding you back from your dream of becoming a successful Freelance WordPress Web Developer is you.  If you follow the above advice and are ready to take on the responsibility and hard work it will take to get your business up and running; then there is no reason you shouldn’t be able to achieve your dream.  It will take time and effort on your part, but the rewards will be worth it as you will be making excellent money and can set your schedule and work from virtually anywhere.  Make a plan, stick to it, and make your dream a reality.

About the author

Steve Harris is a WordPress Design Manager at Formal Site. Steve was a freelance WordPress Developer for more than 8 years. Now, he leads his team at Formal Site. During his free time, Steve likes to read about Digital Marketing and Investing. 

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Categories: Design

Basic Online Security Practices You May Be Overlooking As a Web Designer/Developer

Tue, 10/22/2019 - 00:10

As a web designer/developer, you create and design websites, and you consider the hundred and one elements that go into web developing and designing. The site you make, whether it’s for yourself or a client, must be aesthetically pleasing; all buttons should work; it should display on all screen sizes; and you must ensure the functionality of the server-side as well.

But beyond that, you should not ignore the importance of observing security for web designers because no matter how talented or skilled you are, if the sites you make are unsecured, the time and effort you have devoted to the site’s creation and design will all be for nought if cybercriminals can get into it. The website will not only suffer in appearance and functionality, but you or the client could stand to lose a lot of money, have a damaged reputation and even be held liable for losses and breaking laws. 

By now, you should be convinced of the compelling need to heed security protocols to protect your work and your good name as a web developer or designer. When you have gained the trust of individuals and companies for making safe and secure websites, you’ll also see more clients coming to you.

Image by Tumisu from Pixabay Always keep your software up to date.

For web developers, it’s a no brainer to keep all software up to date. This includes both the server operating system and the apps you are running on the site. Updates happen when the software developer add security patches or added functionality. Outdated software is akin to an open door for hackers to enter, wreak havoc on your site and steal your personal and critical data. 

An easy way to ensure that your software is updated is to turn on Automatic Updates. The web browsers Chrome and Firefox are recommended as they have frequent and automatic updates. 

If you have managed hosting, security updates are handled by the hosting provider and is worth the extra cost. Third party apps on your site, such as CMS or forum, usually notify you of system updates. Most web developers use package managers like Yarn or NPM to automate the installing, updating and removing of software. With all these tools at your disposal, vulnerable and outdated apps are only a result of your laziness or negligence. 

Use a VPN.

A VPN (virtual private network) connects your device to a server that then connects you to the internet. In effect, it hides your identity and location. The server where your VPN directs your network to is in another country and will serve as your IP address. A VPN has more functions. It encrypts your data and hides your online activities. It gives you access to geo-restricted regions and allows safe uploading and downloading of files. 

A VPN provider with secure VPN servers ought to be an essential feature of security for web designers with the rising incidence of hacker attacks and cybercrimes. 

As a web developer, the importance of using a VPN while you work cannot be emphasized enough. You’ll be protecting your client’s proprietary information – stolen data could mean a huge loss to a big corporation and a shutdown for smaller companies. You’ll also be protecting your career because if the website you’re working on gets hacked, you’ll be accountable for it, and no one would hire you anymore. 

Mind your passwords.

Web designers would know about basic security protocols, but it doesn’t follow that they practice them all the time. That goes for your passwords, too. Here are tips to create passwords that won’t be easy to hack:

Use a long password. Although the recommended minimum length is eight (8) characters and a mix of alphanumeric and symbols, a password of 20 or more characters is less vulnerable to password-cracking by hackers. 

Don’t use the same password across your accounts. This practice is more common than you think, even for web designers and developers. A single password that gives access to multiple accounts is a hacker’s dream. 

Use a password management program like LastPass. It lets you create strong unique passwords and enters your credentials automatically while reminding you to change passwords ever so often.

Another important tip: Do log out after using a computer to protect your password.

Be on the lookout for phishing scams. 

Probably one of the more notorious phishing scams is the one on the campaign manager of defeated Democratic presidential candidate Hilary Clinton. If only to point out the catastrophic results that a scam email can bring about. 

Phishing can come in the form of emails, texts or messages through social media. Their goal is to get hold of your personal information, like login name and password, and your banking and credit card information. 

As a web designer, you may get emails for website creation projects and ask for your bank account number to make a payment , blah blah – you get the picture.

To prevent cyber-attacks on the website you make, always add an SSL certificate to the site and set up 2-Factor Authentication. 

Always keep your devices safe.

All types of devices are vulnerable to attacks. To keep them safe and secure, follow these handy tips:

Whether it’s a smartphone or desktop you’re using to design a website, always lock them using a passcode or password when unattended. The same goes for your flash drive or external hard drive. 

Update your devices’ operating system when prompted.

Refrain from clicking on attachments in suspicious texts and emails.

Don’t store your passwords, credit card and banking information on Notes or a document on your device. 

Turn on Find my iPhone/iPad or Android Device Manager tools to locate lost or stolen devices.

Image by Photo Mix from Pixabay Always backup your work. 

To conclude, keep in mind that hackers, cybercriminals and online thieves are getting more sophisticated and are increasing in number. Aside from them, competitors of your clients want the company’s data in order to come up with more powerful marketing strategies or to anticipate their next moves. As a web designer or developer, the security and safety of your and your clients’ websites is your responsibility. 

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Categories: Design

Designer to Client: Challenges Designers Face With Clients On a Daily Basis

Sun, 10/13/2019 - 21:12

As a web designer, you have a creative mind, meaning you’re able to think outside the box and see things creatively that the average person wouldn’t see. In that same token, you’re also very tech-savvy and are able to understand and process the workings of the digital world.

You put those things together, and you have one talented web designer! It would just be nice if your clients would recognize that and put that into perspective sometimes when making their demands, right?

Of course, it would be nice! Can you imagine working as a web designer, being paid very well by all your clients with no hiccups? Or try imagining working as a web designer where you have the budget to do whatever your creative mind leads you to do and the clients totally trust your creative judgment and let you have the last say-so in the final design. Now picture all of that with the bonus of all your clients being easy to work with… sounds like a dream come true, right?

As a web designer, you’ll get one or the other… rarely will you get all of that at the same time. But that’s okay… it comes with the job. Being a web designer isn’t easy, if you really think about it. A web designer has the talent of being able to take an idea that someone has in their head and bring it to life. A client will sometimes have a sketch of how they want a design to look but then, a lot of them don’t and those clients have a hard time even putting into words what they want their design to even look like. 

If you’re able to take clients’ ideas (good and bad ones) and bring them to life, then kudos to you! With talent like that, you’ll want to hire a digital marketing firm to get your name out there to establish your brand. You may do great freelance work but when you have a really good track record of satisfied clients, it’s time to really make a name for yourself but in doing so, you’ll need to understand that the more clients you have, the more challenges you’ll face too.

Web Designers Today

If you’re new to the world of web design, then it’s important that you know that web design used to be about making something look pretty and appealing to the eye. Today, web design is all about creating designs that will make your clients’ customers happy, which will, in turn, make your clients happy. But if the client isn’t happy, then life is going to get rough. 

Now, with any job, you’re going to experience stress and face challenges… it just comes with working a job where you have clients, especially if you’re a freelancer. According to the Freelancers Union, there is such a thing called freelancer burnout. It’s understandable that you’re not always going to come up with designs that they like off the top and it’s understandable that you’re going to get frustrated with yourself and with your clients but again, everyone experiences that on-the-job stress but regardless, you have to keep pushing because web design is life and any other job just wouldn’t be worth it for you. Take a look at some of the biggest challenges web designers face with clients on a daily basis.

Your clients aren’t very clear on their instructions and what they really want from your design

“I just want it to pop and wow my customers!” That is a typical statement from a client describing what they want in their design from you… very frustrating at times. The frustrating part about it is that your idea of making something “pop” can be very different from what the client is looking for. That statement is the equivalent of Charlie Brown’s teacher talking… “wah whaaah wah wah!”

To get a better idea of how to meet your client’s expectations, give them a short questionnaire. You can have them list four or five sites that they think have the look and set up they like. Also ask them to list four or five sites they think don’t look good. This will help you have a better idea of what they’re looking for and will save you from having to make several revisions later on down the line. 

Your clients don’t have a realistic budget or no budget at all  Image by pasja1000 from Pixabay

A potential client might contact you and you converse back and forth with them. Now it’s time to talk numbers… You ask them if they have a budget in mind and what do they say? “No not really, how much do you charge?” When you tell them your price, they ALWAYS say that it’s a pretty steep price. That statement lets you know that they indeed do have a budget, it’s just that your pricing wasn’t in their budget. Finances are definitely one of the biggest challenges web designers face with clients; you just never know when a paycheck will come.

Your clients expect you to have their project done within an unrealistic deadline

Clients are so funny sometimes, aren’t they? They will tell you they need three complete websites for a major corporation and expect you to get them all done in two weeks! Okay, that might have been over-exaggerated a little bit but you get the point… clients don’t have realistic expectations for your work. They think all you do is peck away at a laptop and can get it done overnight, and that’s where they go terribly wrong.

Web design is a process that takes lots of planning and continued communication to make sure the design is going in the right direction. Before taking on a client, you have to be very clear upfront on your expectations from them as well. They need to clearly understand the amount of time it takes you to do certain projects, how you work, and possible things that could cause a delay, so they’ll be prepared for any scenario. 

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Categories: Design

Your Fees are Too Low: Your Expertise is Worth More Than You Think

Thu, 10/10/2019 - 20:45

If you’re not charging a premium for your experience as a website developer, your fees are too low. Even if your routine projects are generic, you bring some kind of expertise to the table that deserves additional compensation. Your expertise could be development speed, access to a network of professional programmers, an eye for typography, or even marketing.  

You shouldn’t be charging the same rate to build generic sites as sites that require your expertise. Your expertise should not be a bonus for your clients – it should be the premium service they pay for.

Specialize in something (anything) Image by TeroVesalainen from Pixabay

If you want to get paid top dollar for your work as a designer or developer, you need to specialize in something. A specialization allows you to market your services based on your expertise, which commands a higher fee. Specialization also avoids many of the common challenges web designers face. For instance, when clients see you as an expert (as opposed to just another designer in a vast sea of designers), they’ll let you run the show. You’ll have every reason to assert, up front, that you’re the one in charge.

Not sure what to specialize in? Here are some ideas:

Attention to detail

If you easily can spot even the smallest typos and inconsistencies in typography, your skill is worth money. Businesses rely on their web developer to produce a clean website with zero typographical errors. The last thing you want is for a business to point out ten formatting errors on the final version of their site after it’s been launched. As a developer, it’s your job to catch those mistakes before the site goes live.

Of course, you can’t guarantee 100% accuracy since proof-reading and catching errors is a process. However, as a marketing point, attention to detail (with results to back it up) will land you clients who are willing to pay more to get exactly what they want.  

Copywriting Image by mohamed Hassan from Pixabay

Many businesses expect their website developer to write website copy. If you happen to be a good copywriter, let that be your selling point of expertise. Professional copywriting services are a crucial aspect of site design. Many clients will be thrilled to get professional copywriting and design in one spot. 

Marketing in a specific niche

Do you have expertise in a specific niche plus marketing knowledge? If so, you’ve got a specialization that automatically commands higher fees (when done correctly).

It’s not enough to specialize in developing websites for a specific niche. Many developers do this, but few are qualified. The difference is obvious in the final website. For instance, an unqualified niche specialist might produce a site that looks aesthetically pleasing but the content won’t speak directly to the target market.

On the other hand, a qualified niche specialist will produce a site that looks good and speaks to the target audience. For example, let’s look at a teeth implant site that was clearly developed by someone with industry expertise. At first glance, the G4 by Golpa site looks like your average business website. However, a closer look reveals several marketing gems:

  • An irresistible call-to-action. This site encourages visitors to speak with a real patient about their experience as opposed to the generic “contact us for more information” call-to-action.
  • Detailed information about different dental implant procedures. Generic dental and medical sites tend to describe the benefits in terms of what life will be like after a certain procedure. For instance, the copy focuses on the patient gaining confidence and being happier. That’s fine, but it doesn’t tell visitors anything about the actual procedure. It’s not fair to make visitors call for information that could be published on the home page.
  • The cost is provided upfront. This site (successfully) breaks the rules of sales. There is no barrier to obtaining the cost. Most sites won’t publish the cost if it’s more than $1k, and instead, use calls to action like, “call us for a quote” or “fill out this form and we’ll send you a free quote.” Removing these barriers provides the transparency that develops into trust.
  • Casual video interviews with real patients. Testimonials are common, but casual interviews aren’t. While the rest of the industry tends to publish polished testimonials, this company publishes casual conversations with patients describing their experiences in a conversational setting. It feels less like a sales pitch with paid actors and more like a conversation with real people.
You deserve to get paid for your expertise

Start charging a higher hourly rate for clients whose projects require your expertise. Don’t give it away for free. Underpricing your services will attract people looking for a bargain, and repel clients willing to pay full price. Focus on selling your services as an expert and you can eventually drop low-paying, bargain-hunting clients. 

The post Your Fees are Too Low: Your Expertise is Worth More Than You Think appeared first on SpyreStudios.

Categories: Design

Designing With Data: How to Improve UX Using Customer Data

Wed, 10/09/2019 - 05:00

Do you always follow your gut when making decisions for your website?

Designing your website often starts with what you feel will make a website look good.

However, you’ll most likely be changing your plans when the results of your efforts come in.

But this is okay because tracking and measuring your site’s performance from a design standpoint is important.

At the end of the data, you’ll rely on data on how to

In this post, you will learn how to gather data about your target audience and design your website accordingly.

Two types of data to gather

There are two types of data you want to analyze: quantitative and qualitative.

To put it simply, quantitative data answer the who, when, what, and where questions you have about your audience.

On the other hand, qualitative data is quite harder to extract.

If you already have quantitative data, the next thing you want to do is know what they feel while browsing your website.

Basically, qualitative data answers the “why” question.

This will help you create more engaging experiences which will, in turn, increase the value that you bring to your users.

How to design with data

Make sure that you have the tools to properly measure these two types of data.

Here are some tools to use if you want to dig deep into what your users tell you.

All of these tools have their benefits and serve their purpose if you need to track your user behavior, what keywords they use, or what buttons they click on your website.

  • Google Analytics
  • Google Search Console
  • SEMrush
  • Ahrefs
  • Hotjar
  • Google Tag Manager
Ask the right questions

Designing with data is an overwhelming task.

There are a lot of measurements to analyze and results to keep track.

Getting sidetracked happens especially if you aren’t sure about the purpose of your data collection.

So focus on a specific goal so you don’t end up collecting data that won’t be useful on how to know your audience better.

Here are a few questions you can start with:

  • What challenges do our visitors face when visiting our site?
  • What do my users expect to see on my site?
  • What functions should we consider to improve their experience?
  • Did my design experiments affect our engagement rate?

After listing down your questions, begin to look for answers from the tools that we listed or other resources that you can find online.

These answers will lead you to a clearer path and help you determine your next steps.

Use information to create a mockup

Once you find out the answers to your questions, apply the information you learned to your design decisions by creating a mockup.

Designing with data simply means that your designs should be based on what the users do on your website and how you can increase their engagement with it.

A wild guess on what they feel about your blog is one thing. But your website’s data provides concrete evidence about their overall experience with your website.

So use the gathered information before creating your mockup.

If you notice that they immediately leave your site, check your site speed.

If they only reach the top fold of your site, review the quality and the design you use.

Believe what the data tells you and create various mockups that you can use for our next step below.

Test results

Make sure to test the results!

A/B testing is a simple process that you really need to do regularly.

Try to run some experiments when you create multiple mockups.

Do users stay longer when the theme is yellow rather than orange?

Are bigger buttons getting more clicks than the smaller ones?

A/B testing is where you do one thing and then another with only a slight change in an element.

Then, you’ll be able to know which is more effective in converting to your set of goals.

Remember to rely on the actual data that your A/B tests say rather than just making assumptions.

Get the opinion of your audience

Try to do a semantic differential survey on your website.

The goal is to present your users a few options and ask them to give their rating on a sliding scale that consists of opposite adjectives on each end.

Done correctly, the insights you’ll get are valuable and can be critical to the success of your future designs.

It’s the perfect way to resolve any of your customer misconceptions and make changes as quickly as you can.

Conclusion

Backing all your future actions and design ideas with data can yield you better results. Try to do the things we stated above and make sure to take a good look at what the data tells you.

Related posts:

Designing Websites Around Colorblind Users

Dos and Don’ts of Designing the Perfect Website Form

The post Designing With Data: How to Improve UX Using Customer Data appeared first on SpyreStudios.

Categories: Design

Four Examples of Beautiful Dental Sites

Tue, 10/08/2019 - 00:40

Private practice dental offices are starting to realize that people look at site design when they pick out the individual who will have the privilege of performing services for them. While this might not be the first thing that potential patients look for, it does play a fairly big role in the decision-making process according to a number of experts.

Some have opined that it’s actually the risk of frustration that influences healthcare consumers the most. Sites that frustrate their users at a time when they might be experiencing actual real life pain could cost a dentist a booking. This is precisely why so many firms have hired a Dental Marketing Guy or a web design specialist who understands the psychology of those looking for a dentist online.

Read: 50 Shades of Urban Decay – Color Inspiration Showcase

Others have decided to learn by example. While it’s never a good idea to simply copy your competition, there’s no reason that dentists shouldn’t look at what others have done for their own offices. And, if you’ve got a dental office as a client, you definitely have to look at what’s out there.

You can learn plenty by checking out some of the most well-designed dental sites online.

Barrett Family Orthodontics

Combining good looks and usability is a challenge for even the best designers. That’s what makes the Barrett Family Orthodontics site stand out so well. It features a nice revolving series of images up top that shows the area surrounding their locations coupled with a menu that users can rely on to find the place the office they want to book an appointment at.

Each of these menus scrolls seamlessly over the top of the page, so they don’t end up obscuring the image scroll. While it might not necessarily mean much in the dental world, that really is an interesting touch from a design standpoint.

Perhaps the most notable aspect of this choice is the fact that the site responds really well to almost any kind of device. It automatically adjusts to match the resolution of the screen, which is good news for those who are bound to cellular phones.

For that matter, this is one of the few dental sites on the Internet today that looks equally nice on the large desktop computers that you’re likely to find in an actual dental office.

Timberhill Dental

Timberhill’s practice focuses on the fact that they can position and fit crowns in a single visit. Forward-thinking web designers worked this into the site’s URL and resource address, which helps it from a search engine optimization standpoint.

The visual design, however, is what really stands out. Coders decided to work with a rather minimalist style that goes well with the name. Since the presence of timber would suggest a green color, they elected to make the landing page primarily green.

Eyeballs are quickly drawn to the phone number at the top of the page, which is set aside in its own green box. This is particularly useful, because many potential clients will continue to prefer to place a phone call when they want to book an appointment as opposed to using an online form.

Alexandra S. George DDS

A majority of dental offices have a relatively cold color scheme and little personality. These unfortunate choices often then find their way onto the Internet. An independent dentist in Pittsburgh has decided to completely buck these trends and go with something different.

The cream and lavender tones on this page coupled with the almost cursive writing gives it a very different feel that you might expect out of a furniture store’s site. If that wasn’t eye-catching enough for you, then take a look at the patient stories box on the side. It provides potential clients with a little reassurance before they sit down in the big chair.

Cedar Village Dentistry

Video packages have taken heat from many commentators, many of whom view them as annoying. Cedar Village Dentistry thumbed their collective noses at these designers and used one to great success by including a looped video at the top of their page that shows off their offices.

This kind of design decision is every bit as visually attractive as it is useful. Users who are interested in learning more about the facilities only need to wait a moment to receive a full tour.

Adding a Touch of Class to Your Own Dental Site

Dentists who are currently struggling with design choices shouldn’t necessarily try to copy any of these looks. Rather, you’ll want to take a few minutes to think more about why they work. Once you’ve had a chance to find the deficiencies in your current design, you shouldn’t have any problem getting up to speed with a new design.

The post Four Examples of Beautiful Dental Sites appeared first on SpyreStudios.

Categories: Design

WordPress Survey Plugin: Forminator to the Rescue

Thu, 10/03/2019 - 19:11

Form builder plugins are very handy. Quizzes, polls, surveys, and even event registrations and quote requests are forms. With a form builder plugin, you save time and effort, and the finished product is a well-crafted and professional looking page on your site. A quiz is the type of post that gets shared, thus increasing the participants, and expanding brand awareness. They may even raise conversion rates and give you more subscribers. 

Polls and quizzes are the underrated types of content for marketing. They force the user to engage actively and share them on social media. Done right, polls and quizzes are rich sources of information that can be used to target the right market. Include them as content in your blog and increase your traffic. 

Image by mohamed Hassan from Pixabay

The Forminator is a free WordPress Survey Plugin by WPMU DEV, an all-in-one WordPress platform that packs the essential features for a WordPress site. WordPress users know that WPMU DEV takes care of your site management, optimizes for speed, keeps your site safe and secure, provides SEO tools for marketing and has recently included free hosting for three accounts. You simply sign up for membership for a fixed monthly fee to gain access to their offerings, though Forminator is completely free on WordPress.org.

Related: 20 Niche-Specific WordPress Themes for Drag & Drop Web Development

Forminator is a drag and drop form builder that lets you create surveys, quizzes, polls and just about any type of form you want for your site. You don’t have to wrack your brains or do code editing to come up with the perfect form. You can drag blocks for name, email, website, address and many more; drop them and that’s it. 

If you’re looking for a tried and tested formula to draw traffic to your blog, don’t ignore the power of a quiz. Quizzes not only attract readers; they get them to stay, engage with your site and come back as well. Since they are one of the most shared posts on social media, you are able to reach more users with your quiz.

Image by Jose R. Cabello from Pixabay

 If making a quiz takes time and effort, so does posting it on your site. But if your site is on WordPress, you can use WordPress plugins like Forminator to build quizzes and polls, then gather the responses, scores and results to determine your next move. Instead of constructing forms, you can spend your precious time on creating and forming appropriate questions that will entice readers to take your quiz.

Forge enthusiastic engagement with all sorts of quizzes. From the no-wrong-answer to the knowledge quizzes, building them is child’s play . Interactive content converts better than passive posts. Whatever your blog is about, there’s always a way to build a poll in it. Polls are another way to engage with your readers. With Formicator, you get real-time feedback and live data shown in eye-catching pie charts or graphs.  

Forminator integration with Stripe and PayPal allows you to collect money, set taxes and shipping rates, and accept donations with fixed or variable amounts. It also integrates with numerous third party services like Aweber, Google Sheets, MailChimp, Zapeir, and Trello, meaning you can collect data, emails and other type of information.

The plugin tracks and stores submissions for easy sorting, analysis and management of responses, while complying with GDPR regulations. It has free Google reCAPTCHA to prevent bots without making it hard for real people.

Lastly, Forminator is supported by both the classic WordPress editor and the Gutenberg editor. With Gutenberg, you have access to the Forminator block which allows you to simply drop the forms to your posts. 

The forms from Forminator have a default design that’s clean and modern. The good thing is, you have the option to tweak their look to be consistent with your blog or brand. Go to the Form Setting button at the bottom of the editor and choose from the several themes at your disposal. You can also change the fonts and add custom CSS. 

Why use Forminator?

There is an abundance of form plugins for WordPress. If you’re looking for contact forms, or you want a plugin for creating polls and quizzes, there’s sure to be quite a few to choose from. They are great for the specific function they provide and if all you plan on creating are the standard contact forms. But none has the versatility of Forminator which has a comprehensive array of form-related elements and solutions. The customization option for forms adds to its value. It’s also easy to use, whether you’re a newbie blogger or a veteran developer. And it’s free, if you have a membership with WPMU DEV which has a flat fee of $49 per month.

If you’re on the fence, try the WPMU DEV membership for free for 30 days and try out the Forminator. If it’s form building you want, Forminator is the best choice. 

The post WordPress Survey Plugin: Forminator to the Rescue appeared first on SpyreStudios.

Categories: Design
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