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As a UX designer, you get to work on creative, rewarding, even life-changing projects. It’s an industry with flexible working and countless opportunities. All this, and you get paid well too.

It doesn’t matter if you’re not a creative prodigy, or a tech grandmaster; you can learn to become a UX designer with the right mindset, a few tools you pick up along the way, and some committed learning.

By the time you’ve finished reading this post, you’ll be well on your way to designing your new career.

You can do this, let’s get started…

What is a Career in UX like?

Every career is different, but generally speaking, a UX designer works on making a user’s interaction with a product or service (normally websites) as intuitive as possible.

Just as a golf architect designs the layout of a golf course to flow through greens, tees, and holes, with buggy paths for access, and the odd bunker to add a challenge; so a UX designer creates the optimum experience for a site. A golf architect doesn’t need to reinvent the game of golf, and neither does a UX designer need to reinvent websites.

A golf architect will not design a course with a 360-degree sand bunker surrounding a tee (well, they might, but they really really shouldn’t), or a hole too small for a golf ball. In the same way as a UX designer, you’re not going to design an ecommerce site with a cart in the bottom left, a non-existent search feature, or hidden pricing.

The best thing about being a UX designer is that you don’t need to spend years in formal education to get qualified. The flipside is that if you want to be a great UX designer, it’s not a walk in the park.

Every designer is different, but some of the main traits of successful UX designers are: an enjoyment of problem-solving; good listening skills; curiosity; open-mindedness; attention to detail; creativity; communication skills; process-driven; and adaptability.

Before committing to this career path, check out a few podcasts, and read a few blog posts, to dip your toe in the water.

Still interested? Excellent, the next step is…

Getting Certified as a UX Designer

UX design is a practical skill. It’s all well and good knowing the theory, but without practice putting the theory into action no one will give you a chance to prove what you can do. So how do you get practical experience? You get certified, and there are three popular options: online, in-person training, or self-taught.

A good UX syllabus will include portfolio-building projects, tool mastery, networking opportunities, and even 1-2-1 mentorship. As well as learning the fundamentals of UX, you’ll cover user research and strategy, analysis, UI design, and more.

Option A: Online Course

Online courses tend to be much easier on the bank balance, as well as being flexible, which means you can fit them around your current job. You can work at your own pace, and in many cases choose modules that interest you, once you’ve completed the basic introduction.

There are many online course providers, including Coursera, Udemy, Skillshare, and Career Foundry.

Whatever option you choose, it is a good idea to get as broad a perspective as possible, so consider following more than one course — perhaps mix and match a paid course with a free one.

Option B: In-Person Training

This could be a university course, or a local boot camp where you physically sit in with an instructor and classmates.

This is more expensive, but it provides benefits that nothing else does. Firstly, you’ll have classmates you can bounce ideas off, collaborate with, keep motivated, inspired, and accountable. You can also get real-time, intensive coaching and advice from someone who’s been there, done that, bought the T-shirt (and redesigned it so it fits better).

Seach local boot camps and workshops, check out workshops at local conferences, and ask your local college what courses they offer.

Option C: Self-Taught

Being self-taught is the cheapest of all options. Work at your own pace, where, and when you want to. Watch YouTube videos, read blogs, garner information anywhere you can find it.

This option involves a lot of stumbling around in the dark. The biggest challenge is that you don’t know what it is that you don’t know. For this reason, it can pay to follow the syllabus of a local college course, even if you’re not enrolled and don’t attend lectures.

In reality, all education is self-taught to an extent, even the most prescribed courses need self-motivation.

Some of the most in-demand UX designers in the world are self-taught, so why not? Start exploring UX blogs like Nielsen Norman Group articles, Google Design,  UX Planet, and UX Matters.

Mastering UX Tools

Recruiters and hiring managers will seek your technical ability and your experience using popular tools from user research, to wireframing, to prototyping. When you get your first job in UX, the tools you use will be determined by your project manager, so it’s a good idea to have a passing familiarity with the most popular. These will include Maze, Userzoom, Sketch, XD, Figma, Marvel, and Hotjar.

If you’re following a guided course you should get an introduction to at least a couple of important tools. Once you understand one, you can probably pick the others up quite quickly… because, after all… they should be intuitive.

You do not need to know how to code, but understanding the roles, and restrictions of HTML, CSS, and JavaScript is very beneficial. When you get your first UX job, you’ll need to be able to talk about how technologies fit into the plan.

Building a UX Portfolio

Your portfolio is your résumé. The golden ticket. The silver bullet. Amassing a content-rich portfolio is paramount. You don’t need a real-world job to build your portfolio, and you should already have content to add from your course.

You need to demonstrate knowledge of UX tools and processes (what future employers will look for). Case studies that incorporate research, problem-solving, strategy, imagination, and (if possible) results are the best way to do this.

There are a variety of ways of building a portfolio, but the best is taking a real website, and redesigning it. Don’t worry if your first few projects aren’t the best; as long as you demonstrate improvement and growth, that counts for something. 

You can showcase your portfolio on sites such as Behance, Dribbble, or preferably create your website.

Landing Your First Job in UX

Start combing the job boards to see which companies are looking for UX designers. There’s a global shortage of qualified UX designers, so if you can’t find anything you’re looking in the wrong place! Make sure your whole network, from your Mom’s hairdresser to the barista at your favorite coffee place know that you’re looking; you never know where a good lead will come from.

Some companies are looking for UX skills as part of other roles. Others are looking for full-time UXers.

Don’t be disheartened if “Junior UX Designer” positions require 2 years of experience; HR just throws this in as a pre-filter. If you think you can do the job, apply anyway, if your portfolio’s good you might get an interview regardless, and if you get an interview they think you’re worth taking the time to meet.

If you don’t get the job, don’t be downhearted. Remember: every time someone else gets a job, that’s one less person you’re competing with for the next job.

Quick Prep on Some Common UX Interview Questions:

  • What’s your interpretation of a UX Designer?
  • What has inspired you to become a UX Designer?
  • How do you take constructive feedback and non-constructive feedback?
  • Who, or what companies, do you look up to in this industry, and why?
  • What’s your process with a new project?

Good Luck!

So, now you know what it takes to get into the field, it’s time to start applying yourself to this newfound and richly rewarding career. As the great writer Anton Chekov said, “Knowledge is of no value unless you put it into practice.” So get out there and practice, practice, practice. Add and add and add to your portfolio.

To become a UX Designer, enroll in a great course, build your portfolio, network, apply for roles, and always be learning. Always be open to new ideas and suggestions. There’s a lot of leg work, but the juice will be worth the squeeze. 

 

Featured image via Unsplash.

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Image Source: Pixabay

An API Gateway is an essential component of any microservices architecture. Amazon provides its own API Gateway service, which you can use to enable user access to a microservices application, and manage API communication between microservices. 

Source de l’article sur DZONE

Jamstack (JAMstack), is one of the most popular (and rapidly growing) tools for app and website creation. A unique ecosystem of functionality, Jamstack promises developers the support they need to create powerful websites and progressive applications. 

For a while, Jamstack was mostly written off as just another buzzword in the developer space. However, today, it’s growing to become a powerful investment for many business leaders. Even big companies are getting involved, like Cloudflare, with Cloudflare pages, and Microsoft with Azure Static Web Apps. Elsewhere, we’ve seen brands like Shopify, PayPal, and Nike getting involved too.

So, what exactly is Jamstack, and is it time you transitioned over? Let’s find out…

What is Jamstack?

Jamstack, otherwise known as “JAMstack,” is the name of a developer ecosystem made up of JavaScript, APIs, and Markup (hence: JAM). The solution is a web development architecture allowing developers to access static website benefits, such as higher security and better performance, while still unlocking dynamic database-oriented CMS.

The Jamstack solution allows companies and developers to build a dynamic website where real assets are pre-rendered static files in a CDN. The dynamic environment runs on JavaScript client-side, through serverless functions. 

For a better insight, let’s compare Jamstack to the LAMP stack development strategy, which originated from the four open-source components many developers used to build sites: Linux, Apache HTTP, MySQL, and PHP.

With LAMP, each user request for a page forces the server to query a database — unless the page is cached — and combine the result with page markup data and plugins. Jamstack websites serve pre-built optimized assets and markup solutions quickly because the files are already compiled on a CDN. There’s no need to query the database. 

Jamstack workflows dramatically reduce cumbersome issues with development and excess maintenance, making them highly appealing to developers. 

What Are the Benefits of Jamstack?

Jamstack won’t be the ideal development tool for everyone, but it has a lot of benefits to offer. By fetching HTML from a CDN, the system doesn’t have to wait for HTML to be combined and returned to clients. The solution also provides an improved developer experience with static methods. 

Using Jamstack, developers can build fantastic static files ready to serve by request, hosted on a global CDN. Some of the biggest benefits of Jamstack include:

  • Performance: Because you’re serving pre-built static files from a CDN directly, you’ll achieve much faster loading times, unmatched by typical server-side rendering options. Because you’re serving static files, you’re also better equipped to handle any traffic spikes you might encounter, with minimal slowdown.
  • User experience: Better website performance significantly improves user experience and website traffic, as well as SEO efforts. User experience has always been a critical factor in ensuring the success of a website, and it’s essential to keeping your customers around for as long as possible. Websites optimized for performance will always delight users. 
  • Security: With Jamstack, there are no servers or databases to worry about. You use third-party solutions to handle these issues for you. The architecture of Jamstack means the back and front end of your development processes are decoupled, and you can rely on APIs to run server-side processes easily. Jamstack also comes with security benefits other approaches can lack. Clear separation of services is essential here. 
  • Hosting and scaling: Scaling and hosting can often be problematic in the development world, but because you’re serving files from a CDN, you’re less likely to encounter issues. CDNs are almost infinitely scalable, so you get excellent extensibility built into your development environment. CDN hosting for static files is also cheaper than traditional hosting, so you can keep costs low. 
  • Maintenance: Jamstack makes it easy to push your front end to the edge rather than managing infrastructure directly. Ditching plugins, databases, and other hosting services can help you to save more time and money on a significant scale. 
  • Developer experience: From a developer perspective, there are tons of benefits from Jamstack. You get the ease of a Github, CI/CD, CDN flow, and auto previews with simple rollback to reduce the need for backups. Local developer environments and the ability to run and debug cloud functions locally are all fantastic.

Does Jamstack Have any Limitations?

In a lot of ways, Jamstack is an innovative and revolutionary solution for development. It can help you to create a far more engaging website and present your company in an incredible way. Of course, that doesn’t mean there are no limitations to be aware of. 

Jamstack is developer-friendly, for instance, but it’s not beginner-friendly. You will need at least some knowledge of web development to start unlocking the benefits. You’ll need to understand things like Vue or React, but you should develop a tool anyone can use with a bit of work.

There’s also a handful of things you can’t pre-generate, like user-specific and real-time data. So, this means you may not be able to use Jamstack effectively on projects requiring these kinds of data. Building an analytics dashboard, for instance, probably isn’t a good idea with Jamstack. Other issues for some developers may include:

  • API complexity: It can be overwhelming to try and find the right solution for your needs among so many different options. Of course, this could also be something you’d say about the WordPress ecosystem and its huge variety of plugins. An API usually won’t break your production website, at least. 
  • Long building processes: If you have a large number of pages, there’s more likely to be an extensive building process to think about. Whenever you make a change to a single page, even a little one, you’ll need to rebuild your entire website. This is a problem if you run into a website with thousands of pages. There are solutions to this problem available, however.
  • Handling dynamics: Going with Jamstack doesn’t mean abandoning your backend. An important part of the approach is accessing serverless functions, which are becoming more effective over time. These serverless functions can also be executed on the edge. The backend parts of your website will require regular maintenance as they scale.

Best Jamstack Tools to Check Out

Now you know the basics of Jamstack, let’s look at some of the tools you can use to design an incredible website or application within the Jamstack environment. 

The Git Tool Landscape

There are tons of tools within the Git ecosystem common among Jamstack developers. Starting with Git itself. Git represents a powerful free, and open-sourced distributed version control system. With this solution, companies can handle everything from small to enterprise-level projects with efficiency and speed. The solution is extremely easy to use and learn, and outclasses a range of tools like Perforce, ClearCase and Subversion. 

GitHub Pages and GitLab pages are two hosting services for Git repositories with built-in services to host static pages from out of your codebase. This makes the two solutions fantastic for when you’re building a Jamstack website. You can access the functionality for free too. 

GitLab gives you a comprehensive DevOps platform to work with, where you can enjoy a comprehensive CI/CD toolchain out of the box. The comprehensive solution, delivered as a single application, changes the way security, development, and Ops teams integrate and collaborate. Gitlab helps to accelerate software delivery on a massive scale.

AWS Amplify

AWS Amplify, created by Amazon Web Services, is a development platform packed full of useful features for people in the Jamstack environment. The Amplify offering aims to reduce the complexities associated with Amazon Web Services for mobile and web deployment. You get 12 months of hosting for free with new accounts, and you get Storage with Amplify too. 

The Amazon Amplify solution dramatically improves the regular AWS workflow, especially if you’re just a novice user. There’s a huge documentation hub to help you too, which is way more convenient than Amazon’s usual documentation solutions. Amplify is still accessed from a somewhat bloated console, however. 

With AWS Amplify, companies can access features like a comprehensive data store to sync data between the cloud and websites. There’s also easy-to-use interface access across all different categories of cloud operations. The service works well with a range of JavaScript central tools. 

Netlify

Netlify is a pioneering solution in the Jamstack environment, allowing users to go dynamic with their websites and applications on their own terms. You can access a range of add-ons and integration, access your favorite tools, and make your own. The flexible environment enables developers to run websites on a multi-cloud infrastructure designed for speed and scale automation. 

Built to be entirely secure from the ground up, Netlify makes it easy to build a site that’s custom-made for performance and deployed directly. You don’t need to worry about managing, scaling and patching web services, which means you can more quickly implement your Jamstack architecture. 

Unlike other large legacy apps, Jamstack projects are neatly separate from your front-end pages and UI from the backend databases and apps with Netlify. Using this service, the entire front-end can be pre-built with highly optimized static assets and pages, and developers can deliver new web projects faster than ever before.

Next.JS

Inspired by the functionality of PHP, Next.JS is a solution for pre-rendered JavaScript modules. The solution allows developers to easily export the components of their apps and perform individual tests to determine how each element works. You can also access a wide range of components and modules from NPM. The Next offering allows developers to save time, removing the need to use webpack bundles and transform with compilers. 

The full solution is extremely intuitive, ensuring developers can create solutions quickly. What’s more, the technology you build will allow you to load only the bundle needed from your JavaScript workflow, rather than all the JavaScript at once. Pre-fetching, one of the features of Next.JS, also picks up where standard code-splitting leaves off, allowing for optimized bundles of code to load seamlessly. 

Next.JS also supports hot-module replacement. This means instead of reloading an entire application when you change the code, you only recreate the modules you’ve altered.

Angular

Probably the most widely-recognized of all the JavaScript frameworks, Angular, designed by Google engineers, appeared first in 2012, offering developers a new way to create dynamic pages. Before this technology, there were other opportunities for creating dynamic pages, but they were nowhere near as convenient or speedy. 

Angular is probably one of the most essential tools companies can use when building a Jamstack website or environment. The front-end web development tool attracts developers from all over the world. Every version is packed with features and constantly upgraded to ensure you can generate the best results. 

Angular extends HTML file functionality with powerful directives, and it requires very little effort to enable these directives too. All you do is add the ng- prefix to your HTML attributes and you’re ready to go. Angular also allows developers to create widgets leveraging editable data with two-way binding. This means developers don’t have to write code that syncs constantly between the model and view. 

With Angular, developers also get access to things like virtual scrolling, which can help with displaying large lists of elements performantly, rendering on the items that fit on the screen to reduce loading times. 

React

Another must-have tool in the JavaScript world for Jamstack, the React solution was launched first in 2013, and has won thousands of customers across the globe thanks to fantastic functionality. Today, the full landscape is maintained by Facebook, along with all the members of the standard developer community. The solution is used by some of the biggest giants in the tech industry, like Netflix, PayPal, and Apple. 

React is a true pioneer in the Jamstack ecosystem, with its sensational approach to simple and straightforward solutions for JavaScript management. You’ll be able to access batched and virtual DOM updates, which makes it easier to unlock components quickly, and write your components the way you see them. There’s also the added benefit that React is compatible with a lot of tools. 

You can build a comprehensive app or website with the help of React, and you’ll have no trouble accessing some of the top features, particularly with plenty of support available from the React community. 

Gatsby

Created from the ground up to improve user experience on a comprehensive level, Gatsby is a static site generator with heavy focus on things like SEO, performance, and accessibility. The solution offers plenty of out-of-the-box features to help developers deliver the most immersive solution for their users, without unnecessary complexity. 

Gatsby users pre-configuration to develop static websites giving developers faster loading pages, stronger code splitting, and server-side rendering. You can also access features like data prefetching, asset optimization, and quick image loading. Gatsby boasts excellent documentation and starter packs to help you get your site up and running more quickly.

The GraphQL data layer of Gatsby also means the system can collect your data from anywhere, including your CMS, JSON, Markdown, and APIs. More than just your standard site generator, this is a tool built specifically with performance in mind. 

Agility CMS

Developing an effective Jamstack website means having access to the right CMS technology. Agility CMS wasn’t the first CMS solution to support Jamstack, but it is one of the better-known options. As one of the first headless CMS solutions to hit the market, the company has quickly captured the attention of a huge range of developers worldwide.

Agility CMS is a Jamstack pioneer, capable of helping developers to build a foundation for any online ecosystem. The technology is an API-first CMS with support for REST APIs, so developers can connect all the third-party apps and front-end frameworks they like.

The technology also gives developers the freedom to code their solutions their way. You don’t have to follow a specific set of guidelines for how content is created, but templates are available to fast-track development. Agility CMS also hosts and abstracts your database, so you don’t have to worry about connection strings, backups, and maintenance. 

With a strong content architecture to help companies manage digital content and a partnership with Gatsby, Agility is ideal for Jamstack development strategies. 

Building Your Jamstack Website

The Jamstack solution is more than just a buzzword in today’s development world. This unique approach to building incredible development experiences delivers an excellent advantage to both developers and their end-users. Fast, scalable, and full of solutions for customization, Jamstack is a powerful way to bring websites to life with simplicity and speed. 

Every day, more companies take advantage of the Jamstack environment, and we’re constantly seeing a wide selection of new tools, APIs and offerings emerging to help enhance the Jamstack landscape too. This environment is definitely worth consideration for any developer looking to significantly speed up their development strategy.

 

Featured image via Pexels.

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With the holidays fast approaching, there are plenty of fun gifts for you in this roundup of new tools and resources for web designers. Make sure to share anything you find helpful with others to spread additional holiday cheer.

Here’s what is new for designers this month…

Volley

Volley, billing itself as Snapchat for work, is a new way to collaborate with remote teams. The tool addresses the two main problems of remote teams (lack of communication and loneliness) with an async video messaging app with interactive transcriptions neatly organized into workspaces. Volley emphasizes talking over typing (76% of volleys sent are video), doesn’t require you to coordinate schedules (it’s 100% asynchronous), and lives in a threaded conversation with context that’s neatly organized. Plus, the tool is free to use.

Upnext

Upnext is a new type of reading list. It’s designed to help you save, organize, and focus on fantastic content while expanding your knowledge on your favorite topics. You can create playlists with almost any type of content that you can refer to later and follow “thinkers” that you love. Search and filter content, focus on reading, integrate videos, and even highlight and note specific content in your customized library. This brand-new web app has a waitlist that you can join to get access soon.

Startup 5

Startup 5 is a new version of the popular website builder, and it’s a perfect tool to create your online presence. With Startup, it’s fast and easy to get your business online with pre-designed blocks. It includes a visual editor with 150+ blocks with pre-designed and pre-coded elements and styles you can easily customize in a drag and drop interface. It’s an easy tool for building a website quickly without a coding background. Most users can publish a website quickly and easily.

Flatmap

Flatmap generates Mapbox Vector Tiles from geographic data sources like OpenStreetMap. It is memory-efficient so that you can build a map of the world in a few hours on a single machine without any external tools or database. Vector tiles contain raw point, line, and polygon geometries that clients like MapLibre can use to render custom maps in the browser, native apps, or a server. Flatmap packages tiles into an MBTiles (SQLite) file that can be served using tools like TileServer GL or even queried directly from the browser.

Cleanup.Pictures

Cleanup.Pictures is a web-based tool to remove objects, people, text, or other defects from your images before using them in projects. It’s an AI-based alternative to other photo-editing software.

Linkz.ai

Linkz.ai helps you make smart link preview popups for your website to help encourage greater engagement and interaction for links. It works with a line of code you can install quickly and easily, and then you get smart link previews (in two style options) for every link on your site.

Llline

Llline is an SVG generator that helps you create smooth and organic lines and strokes with plenty of customization options for almost any application. This tool helps create graphic elements in just a few clicks, allowing you to add a few points to a canvas and then draw a smooth curve using these points. You can then tweak the resulting SVG graphic by rotating it, changing its color, giving it a gradient, making it a dashed line, and then you can download or copy the SVG markup.

Lorem.Space

Lorem.Space is a valuable placeholder image tool. With just a little bit of code, you can pop cool placeholder images – from movie posters to shoes – right in your website mockup so that the design is easier to visualize. It’s a great solution that’s fun and keeps you from having to put empty boxes throughout the design. And everything can be randomized, so you don’t spend time looking for placeholders.

Huetone

Huetone can help you create more accessible color palettes by making use of the Advanced Perceptual Contrast Algorithm. The contrast ratios and color combinations show on one screen to help you quickly develop palettes and combinations. Plus, the tool has hotkeys that make it easy to change hues, toggle, and adjust quickly. Then you can export everything to Figma.

Rowy

Rowy is an open-source tool to build on the Google Cloud Platform. You can manage Firestore data in a spreadsheet-style user interface, write Cloud Functions in the browser, and connect to third-party platforms.

AdCreative.ai

AdCreative.ai uses artificial intelligence to help create better ad creative. To get started, you upload logos and color files, connect social and other accounts, pick the sizes you need, write text, pick a background, and upload product images, and let the AI do the work. Once you have the creative you like, you can connect to your online ad accounts for easy use. This is a premium tool that’s free to try.

Flowrift

Flowrift is a tool to browse and then copy and customize Tailwind CSS blocks in groups of collections. Filter by block type and then experiment with the options. It even has e-commerce blocks.

Layout Patterns

Layout Patterns is a collection of layout patterns built using modern CSS APIs to help you build common interfaces such as cards, dynamic grid areas, and full-page layouts.

You.com

You.com is a new private search engine that summarizes the web. The tool is in open beta and includes superior privacy choices, actionable results, extensible apps, and personalization through preferred sources.

3D Icons

3D Icons is a fun set of three-dimensional, full-color icons that are free for all uses. (Donations are accepted.) They integrate with pretty much any web design tool you are using and come in four color styles – clay, gradient, color, and premium – so you can get just the right look for your project. Each icon also includes three rendering views – dynamic, side, and isometric.

Arco Design

Arco Design is a comprehensive React UI components library based on the Arco Design system. It includes a customizable theme and more than 60 crafted components that you can use out of the box.

Seekvectors.com

Seekvectors.com is a search tool to find free resources in five different formats, PNG, SVG, JPG, EPS, and AI.

Outline to Single Stroke

Outline to Single Stroke is a tool in the Figma community that works just like the name implies. Select a filled vector on the canvas, and then you can outline it to a single stroke and adjust the line weight if you like.

Codeamigo

Codeamigo is a new self-paced platform to help you learn coding skills. It’s packed with various lessons for different languages and templates and has something for every level from beginner to advanced.

Sizze

Sizze is a Figma to React Native export tool to create app prototypes and instantly export to code.

CodingFont

CodingFont is an excellent game that can help you pick a font to use for coding that you like! If you spend a lot of time looking at code each day, the right font can help reduce eye strain and make the work a little easier to see.

Christmas Revue

Christmas Revue is the first in a trio of holiday typefaces that you can use this season. This SCG color font is fun and perfect for the holidays with exciting glyphs. It is free for personal use only.

Hotsnow

Hotsnow is a fun display font that has interesting fills and shapes in an all-caps character set. It is free for personal use.

Marlwich

Marlwich is a feminine handwriting-style typeface that has the feel of signing a holiday letter or card. It contains upper- and lower-case characters and is only for non-commercial use for free. (A paid option is available for commercial projects.)

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1, 2, 3 – That’s exactly how long it takes you to start losing visitors if you have a slow-loading website.

Hold on! Surely, the only thing that matters to users is that your website works flawlessly and looks great… right? Wrong!

The fact of the matter is that we’ve all become accustomed to instant access to information and content. The average internet user today places a lot of value on speed, and the bar is continually being raised.

If you are like most people, you probably feel an immediate sense of dread at the thought of optimizing your website. Where do you start? How can you make the most impactful improvements? What makes your website slow in the first place?

Have no fear, as we’ll be answering all of your questions below as well as putting you on your way to a website that loads with blazing speed.

Why Should You Be Worried About A Slow-Loading Website?

Good question!

As many as 53% of visitors abandon a site that takes more than 3 seconds to load. Even worse, 1 in 3 shoppers will leave a website if it takes longer than 5 seconds to load.

So, performance plays a huge role in the user experience of your website and whether your visitors will stay on your website or be converted into customers.

For some time, Google has been keenly aware of this fact. As a search engine, Google knows that it’s counterproductive to recommend content to users if they won’t stick around to consume it.

That’s why they’ve continually been increasing the role performance plays when ranking websites for their SERPs (search engine results pages).

In recent years, Google has introduced core web vitals. These are metrics they hope will help quantify how performance affects the user experience. In general, they measure how fast, stable, and interactive a page is while loading. This will be more important than ever after Google announced its Page Experience update, which started its global rollout in June 2021.

As you may know, ranking highly for Google is vital for your website’s visibility. For one, 68% of online experiences begin with a search engine, of which Google has a 92.7% market share. Even if you manage to land on the coveted first page of Google, the first five results get over 70% of all clicks (28% to the first result alone).

So, to recap why a fast loading website is so desirable:

  • It directly affects your ability to keep, satisfy, and even convert visitors to your website.
  • It impacts your search engine rankings which impacts your “findability” and organic traffic.

8 Reasons Your Site Is Slow + How to Fix Them

O.K., so now that we’re all on the same page regarding the importance of your website performance, let’s look at common issues slowing down your website + how to fix them.

1. You’re Using A Sub-Par Hosting Service

As the party responsible for making your website available to the outside world, your hosting service can be a make-or-break factor. Not only should you pick a host that has a good track record when it comes to uptime a performance, but also one that’s suitable according to your needs.

Even if you take all the steps below to optimize your website’s performance, it may still load slowly if traffic to your website is overwhelming your available bandwidth or your host’s server capacity. If that happens, some users may experience extremely slow loading times, broken features, or even complete unavailability.

For most personal, blog, or local/small business sites, a respectable hosting provider like Bluehost or GoDaddy should be good enough. However, if you plan on running any type of large-scale, high-traffic webstore, business portal, or other type of website, you’ll want premium hosting, such as WPEngine (for WordPress), VPS hosting, or even a dedicated server.

2. You’re Not Optimizing Your Media Assets

As you probably know, media like images and videos take up significantly more space than most other types of content, such as text, code, stylesheets, or other static files. Even a single image has the potential of consisting of more data than dozens of website pages containing nothing but the underlying HTML and text.

In a Speed Essentials presentation, the Google team identified images as the largest contributor to page weight. In fact, they have the potential to consume a website’s entire performance budget if left unoptimized. Images can also directly impact all three of Google’s core web vitals – key metrics Google uses to measure the performance of a website.

However, the use of images and video is likely to continue growing, heightening the importance of finding a sustainable solution. According to HTTPArchive, images have increased by 19.3% on desktop and 42.7% on mobile.

For now and the foreseeable future, optimizing your images carries the greatest potential for improving performance.

The problem is that optimizing image assets requires multiple steps. Most importantly:

  • Using the appropriate next-gen formats which can differ depending on the user’s device, OS, or browser.
  • Appropriately compressing the size and quality of images to reduce payload without affecting visual quality too badly.
  • Using the optimal display size and density based on the accessing device to reduce payloads further.
  • Using lazy loading to only load images as needed.

As you can see, manually going through these steps for every single image on your website can be extremely labor-intensive. This is especially true if you consider that you somehow need to create the optimal variants for different users based on what device, OS, or browser they are using.

In-code strategies, like a JS plugin, responsive images, or CSS media queries tend to bloat your code and lead to other performance issues we’ll discuss below.

Luckily, there are plenty of CDN services available designed specifically for providing some degree of automated image optimization. These platforms analyze the context (i.e., a specific mobile device model, OS version, and browser version) of the user trying to load one of your images and try to serve them a version of the image that’s ideally optimized for them.

However, any media optimization platforms still require installing a small JavaScript plugin to dramatically improve the image and video optimization capabilities. 

The one exception here is ImageEngine. ImageEngine uses WURFL device-detection to pick up every possible detail of the user’s device. The logic is built into their device-aware edge servers and doesn’t rely on you adding any additional code or markup to your website pages.

So, not only does it reduce your image payloads by up to 80% and serve them via a global CDN, but it doesn’t leave a footprint in your website’s code. As a bonus, it also happens to support the widest range of image/video formats, including animated GIFs, as well as client hints and save-data mode.

3. Render-Blocking JavaScript And CSS Is Delaying Page Loads

JavaScript is the de facto programming language for adding interactivity and advanced features to websites today. Likewise, CSS is the standard for adding styling. Both are critical components for almost any modern website.

However, nothing good comes free, and both may impact the performance of your website, particularly when used carelessly. 

The following are some steps you can take to minimize the impact of these assets on your website performance:

  • Minify your JavaScript and CSS files.
  • Combine a large number of JS/CSS files into fewer files.
  • Replace some of your external JS and CSS files with inline JS/CSS. (Don’t overdo this! Inline JS and CSS is only suitable for small code snippets).
  • Defer loading JavaScript until after all your content is loaded and use media queries for CSS files.

Because media can have a more significant impact on your page weight, this leads some to believe that adding more JavaScript is the lesser of two evils. 

However, depending on whether you already have render-blocking JS, Google might flag this as a completely new issue. Regardless, it will negatively impact your performance score in tools like PageSpeed Insights:

You can avoid it altogether by using an optimization engine like ImageEngine that doesn’t require any JavaScript.

4. You’re Not Using A Content Delivery Network (CDN)

A CDN is a network of servers spread across various regions all over the globe. What it basically does is store a copy of your website on each of these servers. When an internet user visits your site, the CDN automatically serves your website from the nearest server to that user.

What this does is allow your website to load faster, no matter where in the world people are visiting it from. If your website was only hosted on a single server, say somewhere in the U.S., then it could take much longer to load for a visitor located in Asia than one in the U.S.

While they all basically do the same thing, different CDNs are better at handling different types of content. Cloudflare, Fastly, and Akamai are just some of the most popular general-purpose CDNs around. Image CDNs like ImageEngine are purpose-built to not only serve image and video assets but to also optimize them using compression, formatting, etc.

So, the two main factors to consider are the type of content you want to deliver via the CDN and its global coverage. However, it’s usually possible to use multiple CDNs in tandem to cover different types of content and reach a wider area.

5. There’s Excessive Overhead In Your Database

If you have a website with any type of complexity, you probably have a corresponding database. In fact, all WordPress websites require a database to function.

Over the years, a lot of information moves in and out of the database. Sometimes, the data can get lost along the way or become obsolete. If you don’t regularly spring-clean your database, then this can really start to add up. Not only will it bloat the storage size of your database, but it will start to impact the speed of database queries and requests.

CMS users are especially prone to racking up these kinds of artifacts from plugins and themes that have been installed and removed over the years.

Unfortunately, there aren’t many easy fixes for this issue available. With most hosting providers, you’ll probably need to use phpMyAdmin to manually check and scrub your data. If you have a managed hosting solution, the host’s support team might be able to help you out. In the event that you have a locally installed database, there are some tools you can use, although they’re not 100% effective.

The best way to avoid any issues is to make database maintenance part of your routine and to learn the basics of how databases work.

6. You Have Too Many Plugins Or Themes Installed

For CMS users, plugins or themes offer near-limitless potential to spruce up the design and functionality of their website. However, each plugin or theme comes with additional code and content that add to the overall complexity and size of your website.

If you have a hand-coded website, the same goes for any additional applets or libraries you want to add to your site. 

The best way to combat this is to be conscientious when adding any extras to your website. Only install what you really need or want, and make sure to uninstall and properly remove them if you don’t need them anymore.

As mentioned, they might leave various transients or artifacts behind, so you should keep an eye out for them throughout your website files (not just the database) whenever you do some spring cleaning.

7. You Aren’t Utilizing Caching

Caching is often one of the most effective yet ignored techniques for improving website performance. Caching stores your website content in fast-access memory in the user’s browser, allowing it to be loaded near-instantaneously by users. This can include everything from text to stylesheets to images to JavaScript files.

Without caching, a user will need to redownload everything when they navigate to or reload a page — whether or not anything has changed.

However, not properly configuring caching on your website can lead to issues, such as users only loading out-of-date content. Most high-quality caching tools have built-in features that automatically clear the cache when you make changes to a specific website page or content. So, users will only reload content once it has been modified.

Some hosts offer out-of-the-box caching tools with their hosting service. CMS can also usually find plugins for this, such as WPRocket for WordPress.

8. Ads Are Dragging You Down

In the end, ads are just another form of media that increases the overall weight of your website pages. While they are typically small and lightweight, multiple ad placements can really start to add up.

What aggravates the issue is that ads are loaded from external sources. This means they’ll take longer to render, generate more requests, and may mess with how stable your pages load — affecting your core web vitals.

Depending on how important ads are to your revenue stream, you’ll want to carefully consider how many ads you use on your site, where to position them, and when they load. If possible, avoid loading ads at the same time as the rest of your page, especially interstitials.

Conclusion

As you can see, website performance is a multi-faceted subject. Although some may be worse than others, you can’t just address one area and expect your website to suddenly be performant.

However, some general principles apply:

  • Keep HTTP requests low by limiting the number of files required for each of your website pages.
  • Maintain proper code hygiene and spring clean transients and leftover artifacts.
  • Invest in proper hosting infrastructure as well as a CDN for your website.
  • Optimize your media assets to significantly bring down payloads without sacrificing engagement.

The final point deserves another shoutout. As we’ve pointed out, finding an optimization solution for your media, particularly images, is probably the best thing you can do to improve your website performance. From purely a performance perspective, there is no service quite as effective as ImageEngine. It’s also the one that requires the least amount of technical expertise and ongoing maintenance.

Regardless, you’ll want to run some tests using tools like PageSpeed Insights so you can gather data on what issues your website is facing. From there, you can prioritize fixes to make your website more competitive.

 

[– This is a sponsored post on behalf of ImageEngine –]

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Tilda website builder combines everything we liked so much about constructors when we were kids – you can experiment, test out and build myriads of new creative ideas out of ready-to-use blocks. Tilda is that type of constructor that allows you to own your creative process and create pretty much any website: landing page, business website, online store, online course with members area, blog, portfolio, or event promo page.

Founded seven years ago, Tilda is a website builder that completely revamped the way we create websites. Tilda has been the first website builder to introduce block mechanics that allows users to create websites out of pre-designed pieces. This breakthrough technology allowed all users – not only designers – to create professional-looking websites. Just like in kid constructors, you can drag-and-drop and mix-and-match blocks on Tilda to let your creativity flow and build a dazzling website, at extraordinary speed. 

When you ask designers why they love Tilda, they usually say it’s because the platform provides the ultimate balance between choosing from templates and being able to fully customize and create from scratch to bring any creative idea to life. Here’s what else they say:

Tilda has been a game-changer for us. It allows our team to quickly spin up new web pages, make edits, and ship new programs. We left WordPress for Tilda and after being with Tilda for 2 years, I don’t ever want to go back.

~ Andy Page, Executive Director, Forge.

I built my first website in 2001. Since then I’ve used countless platforms and website builders for customer websites and my own business. Tilda is the perfect combination of ease of use with powerful features at an unbeatable value.

~ Robby Fowler, Branding and Marketing Strategist, robbyf.com & The Brand ED Podcast.

Let’s dive deeper into core functionalities you can leverage on Tilda. 

#1 Cut Corners With 550+ Pre-Designed Blocks And 210+ Ready-Made Templates

The beauty of Tilda is that it provides 550+ blocks in the ever-growing Block Library designed by professional designers. Thus, you can quickly build a website out of pre-designed blocks that encompass virtually all elements you might need for your website: menu, about us page, features, contact, pricing, etc. 

Customizing each block is a breeze with Tilda: You can drag-and-drop images, edit text right in the layout, alter block height, background color, padding, select the style of buttons, use custom fonts, and assign ready-made animation effects to specific parts of it. Also, Tilda provides a built-in free image library with 600K+ images, so you can find images that are just right for you without leaving Tilda, add them to your website with just one click, and use them for free.

Finally, all blocks fit together so well that it’s almost impossible to create a bad design on Tilda – even if you are a stranger to website building.

For a quick take-off, you can use 210+ ready-made templates for different kinds of websites and projects: online stores, landing pages, webinar promo pages, multimedia articles, blogs, and more. Each template is a sample of modern web design and consists of blocks. It means that templates don’t limit your creativity: you can modify them to your liking by playing with settings, adding extra or removing existing blocks, and embedding images and text. 

Each of the templates and blocks covers over 90% of use cases you’ll ever require and is mobile-ready, meaning that your website will look great on desktop computers, tablets, and smartphones by default.

#2 Jazz Up Your Site With Zero Block: Professional Editor For Web Designers 

To better meet the demands of a creative brief and unleash your creativity, you can use Tilda’s secret weapon called Zero Block. It is a tool for creating uniquely designed blocks on Tilda.

You can control each element of the block, including text, image, button, or background, and decide on their position, size, and screen resolution on which they’ll appear. For example, you can work with layers to create depth with overlay and opacity techniques or set a transparency level on any element and shadow effects below them. Additionally, you can also insert HTML code to add more complex elements, such as calendars, paywall, comments, social media posts, and so much more.  

Finally, Zero Block allows you to fool around with basic and more advanced step-by-step animation for a more individual look. Here’re some animation examples that you can make on Tilda:

Animation on scroll (position of elements is changing on scroll).

Trigger animation (animation is triggered when pointing at or clicking on an object).

Infinite scrolling text.

#3 Import Designs From Figma To Tilda In Minutes

Creators love using Figma for prototyping, but when you have to transfer every element and rebuild your website design from scratch – that’s what’s killing the party. With Tilda, you can easily turn your static designs into an interactive website in no time. 

All it takes is to prepare your Figma design for import with a few easy steps, paste the Figma API token and your layout URL to Tilda, click import and let the magic happen. Once your design is imported, you can bring your project online just by clicking publish.

#4. Make Search Engines Love Your Website With Built-In SEO Optimization

Thanks to the consecutive positioning of blocks on the page, websites designed on Tilda are automatically indexed well by search engines. There is also a set of SEO parameters you can fine-tune right inside the platform to ensure that your web pages rank high even if you don’t have an SEO specialist in-house. These parameters include the title tag, description and keywords meta tags, reader-friendly URLs, H1, H2, and H3 header tags, alt text for images, and easily customizable social media snippets. 

As an additional value, Tilda provides an SEO Assistant that will show you what errors are affecting the indexing of your website and will help test the website for compliance with the search engines’ main recommendations.

#5. Turn Visitors Into Clients

Tilda gives you the power to set up data capture forms and integrate them with 20+ data capture services, such as Google Sheets, Trello, Notion, Salesforce, Monday.com, etc., to ensure seamless lead generation.

For more fun, Tilda developed its CRM to manage your leads better and keep your business organized right inside of a website builder. This is a very easy-to-use tool that automatically adds leads from forms and allows you to manually add leads you captured outside of the website. There is a kanban board that gives you an overall view of how leads are moving through your sales funnel and allows you to move leads between stages easily.

#6. Build A Powerful Online Store In One Day

Tilda provides a set of convenient features to create a remarkable online shopping experience. The platform gives you the power to sell online using ready-made templates or build an online store completely from scratch, add a shopping cart and connect a payment system of choice — Stripe, PayPal, 2Checkout, etc. — to accept online payments in any currency.

If you are looking to run a large ecommerce business, you should also consider Tilda. Thanks to the built-in Product Catalog, you can add up to 5000 items, import and export products in CSV files, easily manage stock, orders, and keep track of store stats.

And thanks to adaptive design, your store will look good across all devices, including tablets and smartphones. 

#7. Bring Your Project Online For Free

Tilda offers three subscription plans: Free, Personal ($10/month with annual subscription), and Business ($20/month with annual subscription). When you sign up for Tilda, you get a lifetime free account. It allows you to publish a website with a free subdomain and gives you access to a selection of blocks and a limited number of features that offer enough to create an impressive website. 

Personal and Business tariffs allow more advanced options, such as connecting custom domains, adding HTML code, receiving payments, and embedding data collection forms. The business plan also allows users to export their website and create five websites (while personal and free plans allow one website per account). 

To discover all features and templates on Tilda, activate a two-week free trial – no credit card required.

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Many markets are saturated with competition; it’s no surprise that customers are expecting top-of-the-line experiences. Businesses must keep up with these ever-changing demands to remain competitive and drive forward.

One way to ensure customers have positive experiences is to take a look at your website. Your website is like your digital headquarters, where customers can browse through products or services, have frequently asked questions answered, and be able to reach you if they need direct support.

Making a site user-friendly and customer-centric will assist businesses while they work to build a loyal customer base. Customer happiness is more important now than ever and has the potential to make or break your business. We all know that happier customers spend more, and delighted customers will always come back for more.

Let’s explore some ways you can level up the customer experience on your website to foster customer loyalty and retention, as well as garner brand advocates for your business.

How Important Is CX?

As a site manager, your goal should be to meet customers’ needs. Creating a website is no simple task but can transform CX (customer experience).

Suppose a customer visits your site only to see a buffering symbol or a lag on their desktop or mobile device. This wouldn’t make for a positive experience, would it?

When customers have to spend extra time navigating your website to find what they’re looking for, it can directly lead to site abandonment, where customers leave the site before browsing. It’s vital to consistently monitor your website metrics to see if abandonment rates impact your overall traffic.

Customers who have enjoyable experiences browsing through your site are more likely to appreciate your brand and strongly consider purchasing whatever offerings you have.

Additionally, positive customer reviews can help your business gain new customers — word-of-mouth marketing is still relevant in 2021’s digital marketing landscape. Earning those 5-star reviews can help other potential customers see that they too could have a positive experience with your brand.

As you can see, CX is just as important as the products or services you offer, so keep that in mind as you set out on the journey to improve your website to advocate for your customer base.

Below, we’ll cover some of the most important elements and features of a strong business site so you can implement them.

Valuable Features to Include on Your Website

The features of your website are the foundation of your business. One of the best parts of building a killer website is that you can get as creative as you’d like with all of the features at your disposal.

Whether you use WordPress or another platform to host your website, you can always explore other paid services or offerings online to bring your site to the next level.

For example, the WooCommerce WordPress extension allows e-commerce sites to improve the overall appearance of their site, add customizations and, generally speaking, create a high-quality e-commerce store.

Below are some examples of elements you should consider incorporating into your web design. Offering these features will surely keep your site visible, relevant, and attractive to all types of customers.

1. Add Personalization

Every type of customer can benefit from a personalized experience, and it helps you turn them into loyal customers.

Personalization is becoming more prevalent in web design, whether it’s including past products they’ve viewed on your landing page or making it simple for them to log in to their account.

Maybe you allow your customers to create a wishlist, just as Amazon does. You could also make personalized deals or recommendations for your customers based on their past purchases or search history. When customers see this level of personalization, it may influence their purchasing decisions and make it simpler for them to order products.

2. Include Compelling and Unique Content

Every professional in the digital marketing space knows that content is king. The companies that include the most compelling content garner the most attention and increase the number of customers who make up their customer base. Here are some examples of what your content should look like:

  • Comprehensive
  • Useful
  • Accurate
  • Visually appealing
  • Helpful
  • A direct answer to a search engine query

By following these descriptions, your content will improve. Whether it’s a blog post or a photo or video, quality content is a driving factor in your user engagement. It helps to support your SEO strategy and will undoubtedly keep customers coming back.

3. Prioritize Speed and Usability

Because technology is an integral part of most people’s lives, customers expect to visit a fast, reliable website. No longer will customers wait patiently for a site to load. The dreaded buffering symbol is a clear indicator that your business is not taking customer experience into account.

It’s critical to create a website that loads quickly and is easy to use. Avoid organizing any tabs in a confusing way. Ensure that your website is visually attractive without overwhelming color schemes or photos that take up too much space.

Go for a more modern, contemporary look that’s easy on the eyes. Customers will appreciate this and will likely spend more time browsing your various website pages.

4. Focus on Navigation

Users should be able to access any page on your website with ease. They shouldn’t have to search for the right drop-down menu or type into the search bar unless they’re searching for a specific product or service.

The majority of users on a site, 70% to be exact, spend most of their time navigating freely without using the search bar. This should tell you how vital good navigation is to your business website. Placing menus on the top of your site is common practice — if you would rather place your drop-down menu somewhere else, make sure you’re putting it in a section where it’s easy to find.

Put yourself in your customers’ shoes. See what types of designs you can incorporate into your site to elevate UX and make browsing simple.

5. Make Sharing Simple

One of the best ways to grow your customer advocates is by leveraging your existing customers. Your customers should be able to easily send your product or service descriptions to their friends and family.

Rather than copying a link, include a share feature. If something on your site is worth sharing with other potential customers, make it easy for them to send it.

Social sharing plays a significant role in digital marketing — it helps to garner organic traffic to your website. You can reach a larger number of people than originally intended, which is the most important benefit to reap by making it easy to share links from your site.

6. Incorporate Chatbots

Offering customer support by using chatbots is something major companies are incorporating into their website designs.

Suppose your customer is trying to complete a purchase but runs into a problem with a coupon they’d like to use. Rather than wait on hold on the phone or for an email in their inbox a few days later, an automated chatbot can step in and assist them.

Chatbots are on the rise, and it’ll be critical for your business to include them on your site. Proactive web actions can increase your site’s conversion rates and improve the overall customer experience.

7. Allow Customer Feedback

It shouldn’t come as a surprise that allowing your customers to share their experience with your brand can help you better understand them and the solutions they’re looking for from you.

Did you know that brands with superior customer service can generate 5.7 times more revenue than their competitors? When you’re in touch with your audience, you’re better able to include features they want and need to have a positive experience. By taking advantage of customer feedback, you can make necessary changes to your site to better serve your customers.

Advocate for Your Customer Base

All of the examples listed above can help elevate your site and improve the overall experience for existing and potential customers. Isn’t that the goal of any business, regardless of industry?

To serve your customers effectively means they’ll feel valued and come back for more. Whether that’s ordering more products or requesting more services, you’ll see the benefits of including the elements we’ve covered in this post.

As a recap, here are some steps you can take to advocate for your loyal customers:

  1. Add personalization
  2. Include unique content
  3. Make your site fast and usable
  4. Provide easy navigation
  5. Allow for easy sharing
  6. Leverage chatbots
  7. Be open to feedback

Overall, customer experience will become more important in the future as customer expectations change. Standing out from your competitors is no longer an option but a necessity. So many markets are struggling to do just that — so if you’re able to offer unique features on your site, it could potentially draw more customers in and drive them to purchase.

 

Featured image via Unsplash.

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There are some spook-tacular finds in this month’s October collection of resources and tools for designers and developers. From interesting tools that can help in the design process to boo-tiful typefaces, there’s something for everyone here.

Here’s what is new for designers this month…

Atropos

Atropos is a lightweight, open-source JavaScript library to create touch-friendly, three-dimensional hover effects. The results are stunning and have a nice parallax style. Everything is highly configurable and customizable. It’s available for JavaScript, React, and Vue.js and has zero dependencies.

CSS Gradient Editor

CSS Gradient Editor helps you create the perfect gradient style – you can start from presets – that you can use in projects. Design a background, fill, or almost any other gradient element you might need, make adjustments or customizations, and then get the CSS with one click so you can use it right away.

Octopus.do

Octopus.do is a fast visual sitemap builder that lets you work in real-time using the content brick method. Share and collaborate in real-time and there’s no signup required to use it.

Pirsch Analytics

Pirsch Analytics is a privacy-friendly, open-source alternative to Google Analytics — lightweight, cookie-free, and easily integrated into any website or directly into your backend. It includes filters to see metrics in the way you want and light and dark modes.

Basic Pattern Repository

Basic Pattern Repository is a collection of simple SVG patterns for projects. Everything is rooted in a simple style to help push projects along quicker. You can get it via GitHub or as a Figma Library.

Blobr

Blobr is a way to get a branded API portal, manage access, and monitor usage all in one place. Customize everything to fit your brand and the tool grows as you do with the ability to increase or change capacity. Plus, it is easy to set up and free to use.

HEXplorer

HEXplorer helps you better understand something you use all the time – HEX colors. This pen by Rob DiMarzo shows how the values for different colors come together to provide greater comprehension when it comes to this color format.

CCCreate

CCCreate is a curated collection of tools and resources for web creators. It includes some tools that have been around for a while as well as some newbies. Everything is grouped and sorted by type of resources – color, icons, type, layouts, animation, shapes, docs, and miscellaneous so you can find what you are looking for faster.

Glass

Glass is a photo-sharing app for photographers. It’s a social network of sorts that lets you share images with the greater photography community without “likes.” Just great images.

Revolt

Revolt is a chat app that’s still in beta and designed for easy communication without having to download apps. It’s an open-source project that is customizable and with an intuitive and recognizable interface. The thing that’s different about this app is that it is built on a privacy-first model.

Doodle Ipsum

Doodle Ipsum is the illustrated version of placeholder elements. Customize your doodles, grab the code, and use them on your web prototypes, landing pages, or no-code tools.

Mechanic

Mechanic is an open-source framework that helps you create custom, web-based tools that export design assets in your browser. The best part is you can try it right on screen using the “poster generator.” If you like what you see, there’s plenty of documentation to help you along the way.

Medio Website Template

Medio is an agency-style website design template for Bootstrap 5. The layout is perfect for a design agency or marketing group but can be adjusted for almost any multi-purpose design. The free template includes a minimal design and includes features such as parallax, popup video, and more.

Tutorial: Simplifying Form Styles with Accent Color

This tutorial is a life-saver when it comes to using and understanding the new CSS accent-color property. This quick lesson will help make your life easier and is simple to use. It starts with setting an accent-color property on the root element and then applying it.

Houdini.how

Houdini.how is a worklet library that is full of CSS and code examples to help you work smarter. See how different elements look cross-browser and learn to adjust the code and put them together in just the way you want. Houdini is a set of low-level APIs that exposes parts of the CSS engine, giving developers the power to extend CSS by hooking into the styling and layout process of a browser’s rendering engine.

Chainstarters

Chainstarters is a powerful, rapid, Web3-enabled platform for software developers. It eliminates the burden of setting up and maintaining a secure and scalable infrastructure, allowing you to focus on creating amazing technology.

Web Vitals Robot

Web Vitals Robot is a search optimization tool that monitors SEO metrics for you – so you can prevent your business from disappearing from Google.

Searchable

Searchable is a unified search tool that looks at local, cloud storage, and apps to find the files you are looking for. It returns results in a jiffy with previews so you don’t have to open every file to find what you are looking for.

Athlone

Athlone is a fun serif with lots of personality. The free demo version includes a limited character set for personal use only and the full version has everything you need for fun display or branding with this typeface.

Capitana

Capitana is a Geometric Sans typeface with humanistic proportions and open apertures. This means that all shapes are constructed from basic forms, the circle, triangle, and square, and are designed according to the classic proportions of the Roman Antiqua. Distinct ascenders and pointed apexes with deep overshoot give it a cool beauty and classic elegance. It includes 784 characters per style in nine weights from Thin to Black, it offers both light and extremely heavy weights for striking headlines.

Colours

Colours is a funky script with just enough texture to keep it interesting. The free version includes a partial character set and is for personal use only.

Flexible

Flexible is a variable typeface that includes 18 styles in the family. It’s made for creativity and display use. This typeface is made for experimenting because there are so many things you can do with this single family.

Singo Sans Serif

Singo Sans Serif is a simple and strong typeface that would make an excellent display option. The free version is for personal use only. Fun fact: Singo means Lion in Indonesia, which is where the name of this strong font comes from.

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User experience is one of the most important principles of web design. There’s no doubt that you focus on UX with every page you design on the web, whether it’s a portfolio, a profile page, or an entire website. 

Unfortunately, what many experts forget is that UX doesn’t just apply to digital pages. That means that you need to discover the right UX strategies for everything from your website homepages to your email marketing messages and even your listings on Google. 

Today, we’re going to explore ways you can apply UX principles to your client’s image on search engines. 

Why Your Search Engine Listing Matters

Let’s start with the basics…

89% of customers start their purchasing process with a search engine. 

That means that whether you’re creating a portfolio to sell your services or building a website for a client, the first connection a customer has with your design isn’t on the homepage.

Developers and designers know that first impressions count when it comes to succeeding online. However, they assume that those first impressions happen on a social media channel, a landing page, or a home page. 

The truth is that most of the time, you’re driving a specific experience for an end-user before you even realize it. Before you can wow an audience with a beautiful site design or a fantastic CTA offer, you need to convince them to click on your Google link.

Just as UX on a website is all about giving your audience what they need in an informed and strategic manner, UX in search engine results works the same way. 

How to Make Your Search Listing Stand Out with UX

So, how do you begin to apply the principles of UX to your Google Search results?

It’s much easier than you’d think. 

Step 1: Show Immediate Value 

Delivering an excellent experience on a website often means providing end-users with the information they need as quickly as possible. Imagine designing a landing page; you wouldn’t want your audience to scroll forever to find what they need. Instead, you’d make sure that the value of the page was immediately apparent. 

When creating an image for your search engine listing, you’ll need to take the same approach. This often means thinking carefully about two things:

  • Your headline
  • Your meta description

Around 8 out of 10 users say that they’ll click a title if it’s compelling. That means that before you do anything else to improve your SEO strategy, you need to make sure that the title of your web page is going to grab the audience’s attention. 

The best titles deliver instant value.

Immediately, these titles tell the audience exactly what they’re going to get when they click onto the page. The promise drives action, while clarity highlights the informed nature of the brand. 

The great thing about using an excellent title for a page is that it doesn’t matter where you’re ranked on the search results. Whether you’re number 2 or number 5, your customers will click if they find something they want. 

It’s just like using a CTA on a landing page. Make sure your titles are:

  • Informative: Show your audience value immediately
  • Optimized for mobile: Remember, your audience might not see your full title on some screens. That means that you need to make the initial words count.
  • Easy to read: Keep it short, simple, and straightforward. Speak the end-user’s language

Step 2: Build Trust with Your URLs

Trust factors are another essential part of good UX

When designing a website for a new brand, you know that it’s your job to make visitors feel at ease. Even in today’s digital world, many customers won’t feel comfortable giving their money or details to a new company. 

Within the website that you design, you can implement things like trust symbols, reviews, and testimonials to enhance brand credibility. In the search engines, it all starts with your URL. 

Search-friendly URLs that highlight the nature of the page will put your audience’s mind at ease. When they click on a page about “What is SEO” in the SERPs, they want to see an URL that matches, not a bunch of numbers and symbols

Use search-friendly permalink structures to make your listing seem more authoritative. This will increase the chances of your customer clicking through to a page and make them more likely to share the link with friends. 

Once you decide on a link structure, make sure that it stays consistent throughout the entire site. If a link doesn’t appear to match the rest of the URLs that your audience sees for your website, they may think they’re on the wrong page. That increases your bounce rate. 

Step 3: Be Informative with Your Meta Description

To deliver excellent UX on a website, you ensure that your visitor can find all the answers to their most pressing questions as quickly as possible. This includes providing the right information on each page and using the correct navigational structure to support a visitor’s journey. 

In the SERPs, you can deliver that same informative experience with a meta description. Although meta descriptions often get ignored, they can provide a lot of value and help you or your client make the right first impression. 

To master your meta descriptions:

  • Use the full 160 characters: Make the most of your meta description by providing as much useful information as you can within that small space. 
  • Include a CTA: Just as CTAs help guide customers through the pages on a website, they can assist with pulling in clicks on the SERPs. A call to action like “read about the” or “click here” makes sense when you’re boosting your search image. 
  • Focus on value: Concentrate on providing your customers with an insight into what’s in it for them if they click on your listing.

Don’t forget that adding keywords to your meta description is often helpful too. Keywords will boost your chances of a higher ranking, but they’ll also show your audience that they’re looking at the right result. 

Step 4: Draw the Eye with Rich Snippets

You’ve probably noticed that the search engine result pages have changed quite a bit in the last couple of years. As Google strives to make results more relevant and informative, we’ve seen the rise of things like rich snippets. Rich snippets are excellent for telling your audience where to look. 

On a website, you would use design elements, like contrasting colors and animation, to pull your audience’s attention to a specific space. In search engines, rich snippets can drive the same outcomes. The difference is that instead of telling a visitor what to do next on a page, you’re telling them to click on your site, not a competitor’s. 

When Google introduced rich snippets, it wanted to provide administrators with a way of showcasing their best content. Rich snippets are most commonly used today on product and contact pages because they can show off reviews. 

Install a rich snippet plugin into your site if you’re a WordPress user or your client is. When you enter the content that you need into the website, use the drop-down menu in your Rich snippet tool to configure the snippet.

Ideally, you’ll want to aim for the full, rich snippet if you want to stand out at the top of the search results. Most featured snippets have both text and an image. You need to access both of these by writing great content and combining it with a relevant image. 

Step 5: Provide Diversity (Take Up More of the Results)

As a website designer or developer, you’ll know that different people will often be drawn to different things. Some of your visitors might immediately see a set of bullet-points and use them to search for the answer to their question. Other visitors will want pictures or videos to guide them. So, how do you deliver that kind of diversity in the SERPS?

The easiest option is to aim to take up more of the search result pages. Google now delivers a bunch of different ways for customers to get the answers they crave. When you search for “How to use Google my Business” on Google, you’ll see links to blogs, as well as a list of YouTube Videos and the “People Also Ask” section. 

Making sure that you or a client has different content rankings for the same keywords can significantly improve any customer’s experience on the search engines. Often, the process of spreading your image out across the SERPs is as simple as creating some different kinds of content. 

To access the benefits of video, ask your client to create YouTube videos for some of their most commonly asked questions or most covered topics. If you’re helping with SEO marketing for your client, then make sure they have an FAQ page or a way of answering questions quickly and concisely on articles, so they’re more likely to appear in “People Also Ask”.

Step 6: Add Authority with Google My Business

Speaking of Google My Business, that’s another excellent tool for improving UX in the search results. It allows business owners to manage how information appears in the search results. 

With this service, you can manage a company’s position on Google maps, the Knowledge Graph, and any online reviews. Establishing a company’s location is one of the most important things you can do to help audiences find a business quickly. Remember, half of the customers that do a local search on a smartphone end up visiting the store within the same day. 

Start by setting up the Google Business listing for yourself or your client. All you need to do is hit the “Start Now” button and fill out every relevant field offered by Google. The more information you can add to Google My Business, the more your listing will stand out. Make sure you:

  • Choose a category for a business, like “Grocery store.”
  • Load up high-quality and high-resolution images
  • Ensure your information matches on every platform
  • Use a local number for contact
  • Encourage reviews to give your listing a five-star rating

Taking advantage of a Google My Business listing will ensure that your audience has all the information they need to make an informed decision about your company before they click through to the site. This means that you or your client gets more warm leads and fewer people stumbling onto your website that might not want to buy from you. 

Step 7: Use Structured Data Markup to Answer Questions

If you’re already using rich snippets in your Google listings, you should also have a plan for structured schema markup. Schema markup on Google tells the search engines what your data means. This means that you can add extra information to your listings that will more accurately guide your customers to the support they need. 

Providing additional schema markup information to your listings gives them an extra finishing touch to ensure that they stand out from the competition. For example, you might add something like a “product price” to a product page or information about the product’s availability.

Alternatively, you could provide the people who see a search result with other options. This could be an excellent option if you’re concerned that some of the people who might come across your listing might need slightly different information. 

For instance, you can ask Google to list other pages along with your search results that customers can “jump to” if they need additional insights.

Baking structured data into your design process when you’re working on a website does many positive things. First, it makes the search engine’s job easier so that you can ensure that you or your client ranks higher. Additionally, it means that your web listings will be more thorough and valuable.

Since UX is all about giving your audience the best possible experience with a brand, that starts with making sure they get the information they need in the search results. 

Constantly Improve and Experiment

Remember, as you begin to embed elements of UX into your search engine listings, it’s essential to be aware of relevant evolutions. Ultimately, the needs of any audience can change very rapidly. Paying attention to your customers and what kind of links they click on the most will provide you with lots of valuable data. You can use Google analytics to A/B test things like titles, pictures, featured snippets, and other things that may affect UX. 

At the same time, it’s worth noting that the Google search algorithms are constantly changing too. Running split tests on different pages will give you an insight into what your customers want. However, you’ll need to keep an eye on the latest documentation about Google Search if you want to avoid falling behind the competition. 

Like most aspects of exceptional UX, mastering your SERP position isn’t a “set it and forget it” strategy. Instead, you’ll need to work on constantly expanding your knowledge if you want to show clients that you can combine UX and SEO effectively. 

Make sure you have plenty of tools set up to offer reports and insights into the kind of changes that you may need to make to align with search engine expectations. 

Making the Most of UX in the SERPS

It’s easy to forget that there’s more to UX than making your buttons clickable on mobile devices or ensuring that scrolling feels smooth. For a designer or developer to deliver excellent UX for a brand, they need to consider every interaction that a company and customer has. 

This means starting with the way a website appears when it’s listed on the search engines most of the time. Getting your SEO listing right doesn’t just boost your chances of a good ranking. This strategy also improves your reputation with your audience and delivers more meaningful moments in the buyer journey. 

Don’t underestimate the power of UX in SERPs. 

 

Featured image via Pexels.

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