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9 Must-Install Craft CMS Plugins

Craft CMS is increasing in popularity, and as it does, the previously relatively scant range of plugins is growing rapidly.

There are plugins for Craft ranging from simple field utilities to the full ecommerce solution provided by Pixel & Tonic — the makers of Craft.

An early decision that has borne fruit for Craft has been the plugin licensing model. Paid plugins for Craft charge an initial license fee and then a reduced annual renewal price for updates. This ongoing payment structure ensures plugin maintenance is economically viable for developers, and as a result, Craft plugins tend to be updated more often and are abandoned less.

The best plugins depend very much on the site you’re developing and what you’re trying to achieve. However, some are so universally useful that I install them on virtually every site I build; here’s a list.

1. Redactor

Installing Redactor is a no-brainer when it comes to picking your plugins. Maintained by Pixel & Tonic, it’s a rich text field that extends Craft‘s basic text input. It’s so useful it may as well be part of the core Craft code.

One of the best features is the ease with which Redactor can be customized. Just duplicate the settings file inside the config directory and edit its contents to alter what editing options are available; it’s simple to create anything from a field with a bold option to a full rich text editor. In addition, each Redactor field can be set to use any of the settings files.

Free

2. Retcon

When you’re outputting code from a rich text field like Redactor, you’ll get clean HTML output — which most of the time is what you want. However, if you’re using something like Tailwind, those classes are non-negotiable. I’m not a fan of Tailwind, but I am a fan of using classes in my CSS selectors instead of element names.

Retcon is an invaluable plugin that extends Twig filters to supply a host of options when you’re outputting content. It can add classes to elements, insert attributes, modify the element type, and tons more.

Free

3. Venveo Bulk Edit

During the life of a site, there’s a good chance that you’re going to have to alter fields and sections after the content is in. It’s a common problem if you’re importing data from another platform using FeedMe, or if you have an indecisive client, or even if the site is simply growing.

Venveo Bulk Edit is a plugin that integrates closely with the Craft UI and allows you to edit the contents of multiple entries at once. This plugin has saved me hundreds of hours that would otherwise have been spent painstakingly editing entries one at a time.

Free

4. Super Table

At some point, you’re going to need a configurable list of inputs. Maybe you’re creating a list of documents to download, building a directory, or even your site navigation. You could create a new channel and then add the entries as an entry field, or even set it up with a matrix field, but this is awkward to edit even with Craft 3.7’s new editing experience.

I’m a big fan of opting for the simplest solution, and in this case, the simplest option is a table field. Unfortunately, Craft’s built-in table field has limited field type support. Super Table, on the other hand, supports almost anything, giving you a powerful, orderable set of fields.

Free

5. No-Cache

Craft has a really powerful caching system. It allows you to cache whole or partial templates, and it‘s intelligent enough to know when you’ve edited content that has been cached so that it can be re-cached.

Understanding Craft’s caching is vital; as a very general guide, dynamic content benefits from caching, but static content does not.

However, you will regularly encounter situations where you want to opt out of the caching. A blog post, for example, could be cached, but the time since it was posted must not be, or every post would appear to have been published “today” until the cache is refreshed.

The No-Cache plugin adds a couple of Twig tags that allow you to temporarily opt-out of the cache. This means that you can cache larger sections of your templates, simplifying your caching decisions considerably while still being able to fine-tune what is cached.

Free

6. Retour

Sooner or later, you’re going to have users hitting 404 errors. If you’re restructuring a site and changing the architecture, it will be sooner. To avoid breaking the UX and SEO, you need to add redirects.

Retour is a helpful plugin that sits in your dashboard side menu. Anytime a user triggers a 404, Retour will flag it up, so you can decide how to redirect the URL in the future.

$59 for the first year; $29/year for updates after that

7. Sherlock

One of Craft’s big strengths is its security. A lot of attention has gone into making sure that the core installation uses best practices. However, as with any CMS, potential security vulnerabilities start to creep in as soon as you introduce 3rd-party code (WordPress’ biggest vulnerability by far is its plugins).

You only need to look at the size of the vendor directory in your installation to see how many 3rd-party dependencies your site has. Even a small site is a house of cards.

Sherlock is a security scanner that performs a number of different tasks to help you stay secure, from checking on security threats in 3rd-party scripts to checking directory permissions. The paid version will even let you limit IP addresses if your site comes under attack — although your hosting company may well do this for you.

Lite: Free
Plus: $199 for the first year; $99/year for updates after that
Pro: $299 for the first year; $149/year for updates after that

8. Imager X

Craft’s built-in image transforms are a little limited. For example, they only work with actual assets, not remote images.

Imager X is an excellent plugin that, among many benefits, allows you to transform remote images. In addition, its refined syntax is perfect for coding complex art direction.

Imager X isn’t cheap, but considering the enormous importance of image optimization, unless you have a straightforward set of images to manipulate, it’s an investment you’ll be glad you made.

Lite: $49 for the first year; $29/year for updates after that
Pro: $99 for the first year; $59/year for updates after that

9. SEOMatic

SEOMatic is the SEO solution most Craft developers default to, including Pixel & Tonic themselves.

You’ll need to define the basics in its settings, and you may find yourself creating extra fields specifically for it to pull data from, but the handy progress bars on its dashboard page will give you an overview of what’s set and what needs to be done.

SEOMatic is another premium plugin, but implementing it is far simpler and cost-effective than digging through all those meta tags and XML files yourself.

$99 for the first year; $49/year for updates after that

Must-Install Craft CMS Plugins

The Craft ecosystem is rapidly growing, and the diversity of the plugins available increases as Craft is utilized for more and more sites.

But despite the lure of shiny new plugins, there are some tools that I return to again and again either because they elegantly fill a gap in the core Craft feature set or because I’ve tried them, and I trust them to be robust.

These are the plugins that I have found most useful in the last couple of years, and installing them is the first thing I do when I set up a new Craft installation.

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10 Homepage Design Comparisons to Inspire Your Business in 2022

Looking to give your homepage a well-needed design update in late 2021 or 2022? Not a bad idea; first impressions are crucial when it comes to business websites. But, fixing your homepage and website design is no easy feat.

Web design trends are evolving faster. Blame the ever-decreasing user’s attention span. The average visitor now spends just 0.5 seconds scanning your homepage to form an opinion about your brand and decide whether to click through or bounce.

Increased user expectations and uncertainty in the user’s response, which is highly impacted by the site’s first impression, are other reasons to consider. This is why the designs which were trending in 2019 are no longer viable in 2021 or 2022.

We have curated the ten best examples of homepage designs to inspire your business in 2022, including a rundown of the best strategies and tips.

Let’s start by highlighting why homepage optimization is necessary for 2022:

Why Your Homepage Will Be So Important in 2022

Your website — especially your homepage — is your brand’s first chance to attract, build trust with, and connect with visitors.

According to recent statistics on why website design is important:

  1. 38% of visitors will stop interacting with a website if they think the layout isn’t visually appealing or intuitive. This creates a higher bounce rate and fewer conversions.
  2. 94% of a visitor’s first impression is based on website design (including colors, fonts, layout, navigation menus, etc.).
  3. 46% of people base a business’s credibility on the aesthetics of its website. Brands with less-than-stellar homepage designs are seen as less trustworthy than companies investing in the visitor experience.

Think of it the same way as walking into a brick-and-mortar store. Visitors are more enticed by a carefully curated ambiance of neatly stocked shelves and welcoming employees than a store that’s dark, messy, or seemingly unfriendly.

Using this logic, your homepage’s above-the-fold section is where you’ll greet visitors and reel them in for more.

10 Homepage Design Comparisons (2019 vs. 2021) To Inspire Your Business Website Design in 2022

Homepage design has come a long way since 2019. In this section, you will explore how.

These homepage designs crush it above the fold. Take just a few of these tips to heart, and your website will be poised to attract leads and conversions — no matter which industry you’re in.

1. Netflix – Crafting The Perfect Call To Action That Reduces Friction With An Additional FAQs Section

Most businesses make the mistake of adding a CTA button that first persuades the user to click on it and then asks for the visitor’s email address.

Netflix also did the same in its 2019 design.

However, Netflix combined both steps in its 2021 homepage design.

The new, improved 2021 homepage design asks for the user email address right up front along with the CTA button.

Here is a good comparison of both the designs:

2019 homepage design

vs.

2021 homepage design

Key Takeaways:

  • The design encourages visitors to enter their email address right when they land on the homepage. As a result, form submission is much easier when the user has started the process. Hence, Netflix makes it easier for visitors to move along their conversion funnel nicely by reducing the friction.
  • The 2021 design also has a nice FAQ section that provides quick information about the company’s services and improves the overall user experience.
  • FAQs also help increase the organic presence of the website in the search engines because Google presents snippets from the FAQ section in the form of an answer box in the search results.

2. Spotify – Revamped Color Combinations For Improved CTA Visibility And Using The ‘Rule of Three’ For Heading Text

The older 2019 Spotify homepage design used light pink and orange colors in its home page main area. The CTA color was green, but if you look closely, the CTA lacks visibility.

The new 2021 design uses blue and green colors with a much larger font size for the main heading. The colors are attractive, and the CTA is visible clearly.

Here is the comparison of the Spotify homepage 2019 design vs. 2020 design:

2019 homepage design

Vs.

2021 homepage design

Key Takeaways:

  • Blue is the most versatile color, and green is the perfect choice for the CTA button. Spotify used universally accepted color combinations to redesign its homepage and made the CTA more visible.
  • The main heading is also made larger than it was in the 2019 design, and it follows the rule of three in writing which is effective and satisfying. It uses just three words in the main heading to allow the human brain to process information as a pattern that is more memorable.

3. Hulu – Give Priority To Your Brand Name And Hide Pricing

If you compare the Hulu 2019 vs. 2021 Hulu homepage, the brand name has been prioritized and shown as the main heading.

Moreover, the older homepage had pricing information everywhere, which has been reduced intelligently in the new design.

2019 homepage design

vs.

2021 homepage design

Key Takeaways:

  • The brand name ‘Hulu’ is displayed as the main heading of the homepage, which helps to build audience trust.
  • The older design persuaded the users to pick a paid plan even though they had a free trial option—this discouraged users from trying their service. The new 2021 design encourages users to try the platform for free. In addition, the packages have prominent CTAs that mention “try for $0”. This design move improves conversions on the website.
  • The new design makes it easier for the visitors to select a viewing plan with easy comparison of the three available plans. The best part is, customers can start all the plans for $0. It’s a win-win situation for the users, and they can quickly pick a plan to start watching Hulu.

4. Nextiva – Reduce Visual Noise And Add Pictures In Menu To Improve UX

Nextiva realized the importance of reducing visual noise in its newly designed 2021 homepage. Visual noise happens when you use too many colors to attract user attention. Different colors compete with each other resulting in diluted customer observation.

In the old 2019 homepage, Nextiva used orange, blue, and green as the primary colors, while in the 2021 revamped design, they have used blue as the main color.

Here is a comparison of the two designs:

2019 homepage design

vs.

2021 homepage design

Moreover, the older homepage didn’t have an image in the product menu, but the new 2021 homepage improves the UX further.

Below is a comparison:

2019 homepage design

vs.

2021 homepage design

Key Takeaways:

  • Nextiva used blue as their base color for the homepage design and removed orange and green colors to reduce visual complexity. This is an excellent change to keep the user’s attention focused. Notice the green colored bar at the top of the homepage in the 2019 version now replaced with blue.
  • The 2021 design has a clean look compared to the 2019 design, which looks scattered with too many different elements, including CTAs that confuse the users.
  • The product menu does an excellent job of linking intelligently to service pages such as phone systems and video meetings. The image of a smiling lady attracts users to click on Nextiva’s products to learn more about them. Improving UX is an impressive way to reduce bounce rates and increase time on site.

5. GoToMeeting – Avoid Lengthy Sign Up Form, Educate Users About Your Products, and Add Images That Depict The Current Needs of The Audience

GoToMeeting does a great job educating the users about their product by adding more content on the homepage that comprehensively explains their product features.

Moreover, they have replaced the older hero image with a new picture that portrays the changing needs of their audiences. Nowadays, there is a rise in work from home culture due to Covid-19. Hence, the photo and the heading text clearly target the needs of their users.

Here is a comparison of the 2019 vs. 2020 homepage of GoToMeeting:

2019 homepage design

vs.

2021 homepage design

Key Takeaways:

  • The 2019 homepage design had a sign-up form on the homepage, which GoToMeeting removed in the 2021 design. People hate to fill in so much information right when they land on the home page. Hence, GoToMeeting did the right thing by removing the signup form from their homepage.
  • The hero image steals the show of the 2021 redesign because the picture of a working mom with her kid playing studying in front of her is a great way to portray the current needs of the society when over 60% of the employees are working from home. Audiences can quickly relate their working environment with the hero image leading to more sign-ups.
  • The older 2019 design was confusing, and it made little effort to help the users understand the different features of the product. The new 2021 homepage design has a product features section that explains the different features of the software. When users are educated about the product, they earn the confidence to try the product.

6. Zillow – Apply Hick’s Law To Allow Visitors To Take Faster Decisions

Zillow does an impressive job of applying Hick’s Law in allowing visitors to make faster decisions. Hick’s law states that the more options you present to the users, the faster they will decide. Therefore, it is a major factor in improving website usability.

The old 2019 homepage design of Zillow offered too many options to the users, like they want to buy, rent, or sell a property. The users first select either one of the three options and then enter the zip code to start their search.

The new 2021 homepage design changed that. Now, Zillow offers users a single option. They only need to enter the zip code to get started.

By reducing the number of actions that users need to take to just one, the homepage design eases the overall decision-making process of the site visitors.

2019 homepage design

vs.

2021 homepage design

Key Takeaways:

  • The new homepage design has a simple search bar that persuades visitors to take prompt action.
  • The Hero image is placed smartly behind the search bar to depict the needs of the users accurately.
  • The homepage does have three different panels for buying, renting, or selling a home when the users scroll below. The old design is missing that. The new design removed so many options above the fold and kept just a single option for the users to encourage more users to search properties on the site.

7. Plex – Placement of Prominent Calls-to-Action On Homepage

The CTA is a key element of every website. It helps the users decide on their next action and helps to convert the visitors into leads.

Plex lacked an optimized CTA placement in its 2019 home page design. Hence, the 2021 design received an uplift to better place the CTA for increased visitor engagement.

Take a look at the home page designs of Plex from two different years. If you compare the two home pages of 2019 vs. 2021, the primary difference that will grab your attention is the CTA.

2019 homepage design

vs.

2021 homepage design

Key Takeaways:

  • The call-to-action buttons are more prominent and have actionable texts.
  • The number of CTA buttons is increased to two to encourage users to take action.
  • The additional CTA button is wisely placed at the center to get immediate attention.
  • Note that the color choice for the button is also bright and highly contrasts with the background yet matches the color theme.
  • The old heading text ‘Stream Smarter’ was confusing because it didn’t help the users understand what Plex does. Hence it is now revised to ‘Watch Free Movies and TV on Plex.’ The new text is easy to understand and has the word ‘Free’ to increase the number of visitors clicking on the CTA.

8. Dropbox – More Above The Fold Content And Change of Fonts

Dropbox has significantly worked on its main content, which is clearly visible in the comparison homepage design images of 2019 vs. 2021.

The 2021 homepage is seen fixing faded, minimalistic, and less engaging content in the older homepage.

2019 homepage design

vs.

2021 homepage design

Key Takeaways:

  • Sans serifs, with their clean readability, are included for longer bouts of the homepage.
  • Bold sans text is doing the job of drawing user attention effortlessly.
  • The color contrast of the text with the background is increased, which improves the visibility.
  • The right side image of a laptop is replaced with a screenshot of the software, which intrigues users to know more.

9. Cisco – Moving Blocks To Outsmart Competitor Websites

The homepage design of American technology company Cisco has seen a drastic change in 2021; it deserves to appear on this list. The company website smartly represents an appeal for future development through its killer homepage design.

Here is a comparison of the old 2019 homepage design vs. the new moving block design of 2021:

2019 homepage design

vs.

2021 homepage design

Key Takeaways

  • The home page contains moving blocks with news from the blog. As you hover over the image, it widens up, and a CTA button appears. The blocks represent a design of the future which the competitors might find hard to replicate.
  • Every block has a CTA, which was missing in the 2019 design. Each block represents a specific Cisco service and caters to the different needs of the visitors.
  • The new design is elegant and cleaner with lots of information.

10. Slack – Product Video On Home Page For More Conversions

Slack has made it easier for the users to understand the product well by using a video on the homepage.

The 2019 design has an image, while the 2021 design has a video that helps the visitors understand how the product works.

Here is a comparison of the 2019 design vs. 2021 design:

2019 homepage design

vs.

2021 homepage design

Key Takeaways

  • The inclusion of a product video leaves a great impression in the minds of the visitors and shows them what your product does.
  • Video helps Slack to make its value proposition clear and super fast.
  • Video has a strong correlation to conversions, and they work well as compared to hero images. Slack used a hero image on the homepage in 2019, but they replaced it with a video in 2021.

Final Thoughts on Using These Homepage Designs for Inspiration in 2021

By making it to this point in our guide, you now have plenty of inspiration to run with when upgrading your homepage. You should also have a better understanding of how powerful this tool may become for your brand.

So now it’s time to brainstorm how to use these ideas for your own 2021 homepage design. First, jot down the key points from this guide and honestly assess how your website currently compares.

Accomplish this task, and your brand might see an uptick in website traffic and conversions. It may even earn a spot in a roundup of killer website designs just like this one.

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10 Cool WordPress Plugins You Should Check Out

If you have a WordPress website, you’re obviously aware of the benefits this premier open-source website-building platform brings to the table.

But are you aware of the legion of website and business enhancement tools lying in wait among the thousands of cool WordPress plugins currently on the market; one or more of which could easily take your site or business to the next level?

What’s out there? Quite a bit, obviously. 

Which useful WordPress plugins are “must-haves” for me? It could take you a ton of time to find the answer to that one. 

That’s what we’re here for.

10 essential WordPress plugins are admittedly a small sample size. But these are 10 of the very best, and we’re guessing that one or more of them could be just what you’ve been looking for.

1. Amelia WordPress Booking Plugin

This game-changing booking plugin fully automates your business’s interaction with existing and potential clients and allows you to focus on key business operations instead of having to constantly interrupt your workflow to manage appointments.

  • Installing and configuring Amelia can be done with just a few clicks. You don’t have to know anything about coding.
  • Amelia can manage an unlimited number of appointments for an unlimited number of clients, an unlimited number of employees, and at multiple locations.
  • Clients can book appointments 24/7 and manage their own appointments as well as their profiles from the front end.
  • Amelia accepts deposit payments, sends out appointment reminders, and can charge different rates for different appointments.
  • If you have a global clientele, Amelia takes into account customer time zones as well as manages translated notifications if you have a multilingual site.
  • Amelia also manages event bookings, whether they are recurring or one-time.

In the unlikely event you encounter a problem with Amelia, the customer support team stands ready to help.

2. wpDataTables

The wpDataTables WordPress plugin allows users to quickly and easily create responsive, interactive, and highly customizable tables and charts from large amounts of data.

Key features include:

  • The ability to create tables that allow front-end editing, whether they are created manually or are MySQL-based
  • Advanced filtering capabilities that enable front-end users to filter table data by single or multiple column values
  • Automatic syncing of created and published Google Sheets
  • Simple wpDataTables wizards to access the HighCharts, Chart.js, and Google free charts libraries

wpDataTables’ many other features include:

  • Connection support to MySQL, MS SQL, and PostgreSQL databases
  • Responsive design from any data source
  • Creating tables from CSV, JSON, MySQL, and Excel and Google spreadsheet data
  • Formidable Forms plugin support
  • Sorting by single or multiple columns
  • Data color-coding using conditional formatting

More than 50,000 companies and individuals have placed their trust in wpDataTables.

3. Visual Composer Website Builder

Visual Composer is a new, ReactJS-based intuitive drag and drop website builder that enables you to create a website quickly, easily, and hassle-free.

This website-building popular plugin:

  • Enables business owners to showcase their brand online with its drag and drop editor and professional templates.
  • Its feature-rich design controls enable designers to achieve pixel-perfect perfection as they bring their projects to life.
  • Its top-of-the-line marketing content elements give its users the ability to create high-conversion landing pages, integrate with social platforms, and more.
  • Makes building a beautiful WooCommerce-based online store a piece of cake.
  • Features a library of 500+ content elements and templates that is downloadable from the cloud
  • Offers free and premium versions for business owners to start easily and scale their online presence

Your site will be SEO-friendly, fast, and responsive, and the support is terrific. Free and Premium versions (Starting at $49) are available.

4. Slider Revolution

Slider Revolution can do more than create sliders. A lot more.

  • It can add impressive (read that WOW) effects to an already notable website design.
  • It can give you new and unusual visual editing capabilities without requiring any coding on your part.
  • With its collection of hero blocks, sliders, WooCommerce carousels, and more, it brings beauty to any WordPress website.

5. Logic Hop

Logic Hop lets you customize your site’s content for individual customers or customer types.

  • Logic Hop supports personalizing your site in response to dozens of criteria so you can tailor your content to address a unique audience.
  • Logic Hop works with Gutenberg, Divi, Elementor, Beaver Builder, and every other page builder.

Any design or content element you can customize in WordPress can be customized in Logic Hop in minutes.

6. Stacks

The Stacks drag and drop native mobile app builder offers a full package of features to help you design your website or mobile app without coding.

  • Stacks works perfectly with WooCommerce and WordPress
  • Certificates required for Google Play Store or Apple Appstore are automatically generated
  • It takes but a single click to generate and upload the Android & iOS Application Package (APK & IPA)
  • Notifications to customers are easy to generate and send, and Stacks utilizes WooCommerce payment gateways.

7. Heroic Inbox

The Heroic Inbox plugin enables a business to manage all of its emails in shared inboxes right inside WordPress.

  • Customer data is presented on the sidebar next to your ongoing chat or message.
  • Key performance metrics are tracked so the team and overall company performance can be assessed.
  • Zero Inbox status can be quickly achieved and maintained.

8. Tablesome

This powerful WordPress table plugin allows you to quickly create a table and embed it in a post or page.

  • Tables can be imported from CSV and XLSX files.
  • Types of tables that can be created include large data tables, product catalogs, comparison tables, sports statistics, and more.
  • A shortcode builder for table and table element customizing is included

Tablesome is performance-optimized and SEO friendly and works smoothly with any WordPress theme.

9. Ads Pro Plugin – Multi-Purpose WordPress Advertising Manager

Ads Pro is the best ad manager for WordPress you are likely to come across.

Ads Pro features:

  • An intuitive backend Admin Panel that allows you to manage an unlimited number of ad spaces
  • A frontend User’s Panel from which you can control access to manage ads
  • 25+ user-friendly and responsive Ad Templates in 8 categories
  • 20 ad display options
  • 3 Billing Models (CPC, CPM, CPD) and 4 Payment Methods (PayPal, Stripe, Bank Transfer, WooCommerce)

10. Static Pages

Static pages/sites do not require any web programming or database design.

  • The Static Pages plugin allows you to publish any static page on a WordPress website in a matter of seconds.
  • You can improve sales by adding a beautiful landing page to your existing shop or blog or add a page with a Mailchimp subscribe form.
  • Or use Static Pages as an easy way to test something quickly and easily.

Have you been searching for a top-of-the-line WordPress plugin that will help you take your business to the next level?

There are 58,000+ useful WordPress plugins for you to choose from. That would be good news, except you could easily be overwhelmed trying to find just the right plugin for your website.

This post features a collection of top plugins for WordPress websites. Chances are good, you’ll find something here that will make your day.

 

[– This is a sponsored post on behalf of BAW media –]

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Exciting New Tools for Designers, July 2021

The dog days of summer are here. From vacations to pool time, you might not be thinking about work that much. But there are still plenty of new tools and resources popping up to help you become a better or more efficient designer.

Here’s what new for designers this month.

Haikei

Haikei is a web app that you can use to generate SVG shapes, backgrounds, and patterns in a web-based editor that you can use with any design tool or workflow process. Everything is customizable and it is free with access to 15 generator functions. (Additional templates and generators will be available when the pro plan is released later.)

Pixelhunter

Pixelhunter is a smart image resizer for social media platforms. It recognizes objects and crops pictures automatically. It supports 102 sizes and is free to use.

Compo

Compo is an Apple app that allows you to play with shapes and colors and create compositions on your own. You can see shapes and colors like the Bauhaus masters, creating from a blank canvas or shuffling in more creative ways. You can move, rotate, copy, overlap, and adjust shapes and colors to suit your style. Available for iPad and iPhone.

Backlight

Backlight is an all-in-one design system platform that allows you to build code and reference sites in a space where designers and developers can work together. It has a series of “starter kits” to help you with the technology you use from React to Chakra to Tailwindcss. It’s designed to be collaborative with everything in one place and integrates into your workflows. The tool is just launching and you can request early access to learn more.

Multi Color Text With CSS

Multi Color Text With CSS is pure fun. Check out the pen by Shireen Taj.

Mega Creator

Mega Creator is an online graphic design tool that helps you create images, icons, illustrations, backgrounds, and more for a number of uses. It has templates that are sized for common uses such as social media. You can upload your own elements to work with (free) or use including graphic assets for a fee.

Noloco

Noloco is a no-code solution for designers to build web apps. You can start building for free and design almost anything you can dream up from a set of drag-and-drop ready-made blocks. (And it will work across all screen sizes.)

Tinter

Tinter is a tiny web tool to generate color variations of images. The tool also generates monochrome colors of images with multiple variants, without hampering the quality of the image.

Radix Colors

Radix Colors is an accessible, open-source color system for designing gorgeous websites and apps. It includes 28 color scales with 12 steps each and includes support for dark mode as well as matching transparencies.

WP Cost Calculator

WP Cost Calculator is a smart, simple tool that allows you to easily create price estimation forms. It’s perfect for a number of industries that use online pricing.

TraveledMap

TraveledMap allows you to create customizable maps thanks to the use of markers, routes, and photos, which you can share or add to your website or blog. This tool is made for travelers and tourism pros.

Glyph Neue Icons

Glyph Neue Icons is a collection of 1,500 icons in SVG and PNG format. (They are free with a link.) Icons come in plenty of categories and styles for all types of use.

Streamline Icons

Streamline Icons is a set of thousands of icons in 12 different styles and themes that you can use for projects. They work through the Streamline app or a plugin for Figma, Sketch, or Adobe XD.

Health Icons

Health Icons is a set of free, open-source health icons for personal or commercial projects. They include filled and outline styles that are editable. There are more than 800 icons in the collection.

OMG, SVG Favicons FTW!

OMG, SVG Favicons FTW! Is a look at the benefits of using SVG favicons in web projects. It also examines some of the challenges – such as browsers support – with code snippets to help you get started.

Aspect Ratio in CSS

Aspect Ratio in CSS explores a design concept we talk about a lot in other places, but not so much with CSS. This piece by Ahmad Shadeed takes a look at how you can go beyond the “padding hack” and use native aspect ratio support in CSS to maintain image height and width ratios in responsive design.

Fight Kick

Fight Kick is a bold font with a lot of personality. The free demo version has 249 characters and is for personal use only.

Glow Better

Glow Better is a beautiful premium typeface with a pair of options – a serif and script. Both contain letterforms with swashes and tails that are delightful.

Huggable Hedgehogs

Huggable Hedgehogs is a playful font that’s perfect for children’s projects. Everything has a mono-height in the all uppercase typeface.

Monice

Monice is a rounded sans serif with thick lines and high readability. It includes bold, regular, and italic styles with free (demo, personal) and commercial options.

Rustica

Rustica is a robust premium typeface with 20 styles and family options. It has slim curves and an easy-to-read character set that would work for almost any use. It also supports 219 languages.

Source

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17 Things You Can Do To Improve Your SEO Ranking In 2021

There’s no shortcut to success when it comes to Google search results. That is unless you count pay-per-click advertising.

While pay-to-play will shoot your site to the top of the SERP immediately, it’s not a sustainable strategy for maintaining your position there. So, you’re going to have to get serious about SEO.

This guide will show you what to do to improve your SEO ranking and start seeing results this year:

  1. Use Google Analytics to track metrics
  2. Get an SSL certificate
  3. Improve mobile page speed
  4. Design a mobile-first UI
  5. Make your site accessible
  6. Optimize your images
  7. Create great content
  8. Structure your content for scannability and readability
  9. Create click-worthy title tags and meta descriptions
  10. Choose one focus keyword per page
  11. Improve your internal link strategy
  12. Use only trustworthy external links
  13. Get your site listed as a featured snippet
  14. Get high-quality backlinks
  15. Create a Google My Business page
  16. Refresh Your Content
  17. Regularly monitor Google Search Console

How to Increase Your Website’s SEO Ranking

If you can improve your SEO ranking — and get your pages closer to, if not on the highly coveted top SERP — you will:

  • Boost your site’s overall visibility as its authority in search grows;
  • Bring high-quality traffic to your pages;
  • Drive-up your conversion rate.

That said, search engine optimization is most effective when it’s an ongoing strategy as opposed to something you set up and forget about. So, some of the suggestions below will only need to be implemented once, while others you’ll have to return to every six months or so to make sure your site is on track.

Let’s get started.

1. Use Google Analytics to Track Metrics

If you haven’t yet begun tracking your website’s activity with Google Analytics, it’s the very first thing you need to do.

While Google Analytics alone can’t tell you how well or poorly your website ranks, there’s valuable data in there about what happens to the traffic that arrives from Google. Or any search engine your visitors use.

You can find this information under Acquisition > Source/Medium:

What you want to see here is that (1) you’re getting lots of visitors from organic search results (as opposed to paid) and (2) that they’re highly engaged. So, that means:

  • Longer times on site;
  • Multiple pages visited;
  • Lower bounce rates.

And if you configure Google Analytics to track different conversions on your site, you can see how well those organic visits convert.

Obviously, there’s a lot more you can track here. But you must understand if your SEO efforts are working in the first place, and that’s where you’ll get your confirmation.

2. Get an SSL Certificate

HTTPS has long been one of Google’s SEO ranking factors. Yet, of the two billion-plus websites that are online today, BuiltWith data shows that only 155 million have an SSL certificate installed:

Security and privacy are major concerns for consumers. So if you want to increase their confidence in your website, installing an SSL certificate is an easy thing to do. And it’ll put you in Google’s good graces, too.

If you don’t have one already, get one for free from Zero SSL.

3. Improve Mobile Page Speeds

Mobile loading speeds became a Google ranking signal in July 2018.

It was something we saw coming ever since smartphones overtook the desktop as the primary device people used to access the Internet. Once it became a ranking factor, though, mobile page speed was something we could no longer treat as a “nice to have.” It became a must.

And with Google’s most recent Core Web Vitals algorithm update, there’s no ignoring how big of a role your site’s mobile loading speeds (i.e., performance) play in ranking it.

To ensure that your site meets Google’s expectations for speed, bookmark the Core Web Vitals tool. It’ll tell you how your site performs across all four of the major ranking categories.

You’ll find your speed-related issues at the bottom of the page, along with resources to help you resolve them.

Most of those tips will have to do with optimizing your code. However, there are other things you can do to make your site load quickly:

  • Use well-coded themes and plugins;
  • Remove unused themes, plugins, media, pages, comments, backups, and so on from your database and server;
  • Install a caching plugin that’ll minify, compress, and otherwise make your site lightweight and fast.

It’s also not a bad idea to review your web hosting plan. You might not have the right amount of server power or resources to keep up with your existing activity.

4. Design a Mobile-First UI

On a related note, a mobile-first design can also improve your site’s loading speeds. Rebekah Carter wrote a really helpful guide on how to do this last year.

In addition to speeding things up — since you won’t be trying to jam a bunch of desktop-first design and content into a smartphone screen — it’s going to help your site rank better.

Just be careful when you do this. A mobile-first design doesn’t mean creating a scaled-back version of the larger site for smartphone users.

In fact, Google explicitly tells us not to do that and why:

“If it’s your intention that the mobile page should have less content than the desktop page, you can expect some traffic loss when your site is enabled mobile-first indexing, since Google can’t get as much information from your page as before.”

And if your response is that the content on desktop-only doesn’t matter, then it really shouldn’t be there. Don’t waste your visitors’ time with useless or repetitive content, as it’ll only give them more reason to abandon your site.

5. Make Your Site Accessible

Accessibility has come to the forefront of the SEO discussion thanks to Core Web Vitals.

Now, running your site through the tool will tell you if there are any inaccessibility issues that Google will ping you for. But that doesn’t make your site completely accessible.

Considering the rise in website accessibility-related lawsuits, you’ll want to take this seriously.

Because a bad experience due to inaccessibility won’t just cost you visitors and a lower search ranking, it’ll cost you a lot of money, too.

Here are some things you can do to ensure that your site and all its content is accessible.

6. Optimize Your Images

Technically, image optimization falls under the page speed tip. However, that’s not the only way you should be optimizing your images, which is why I wanted to address this separately.

According to HTTP Archive, the average weight of a mobile web page these days is 1917.5 KB. Images take up a sizable chunk of that weight:

Because of this, bloated image sizes are often to blame for slow pages.

You can do several things to optimize your images for speed, like using lightweight formats, resizing them, and compressing them. You’ll find 6 other image optimization tips here.

While those tips will help you speed up your site and, consequently, improve your SEO ranking, there’s something else you need to do:

Add alt text to your most important images.

One reason to do this is to improve accessibility. Another is so your web page can rank in both the regular Google search results and image results as this search for “WordPress by the numbers” does:

If you can write alt text that perfectly describes your graphic and matches the image searchers’ intent, you can create another ranking opportunity for your page.

7. Create Great Content

There are many technical ranking factors you have to pay attention to if you want to create a good experience for your visitors and rank well as a result. However, none of that will matter if your content sucks.

So, how do you make great content? It really depends.

Think about the difference between a page describing your web design services and a product page for a blender.

Your web design services page would need to:

  • Explain why hiring a web designer is a must;
  • What your design services entail;
  • What they can expect in terms of results;
  • Include some proof in the form of testimonials or portfolio samples;
  • Have information on next steps or how to get in touch.

That would be a comprehensive and useful page. If business owners searched for “hire a web designer near me” or “should I hire a web designer?”, that page would sufficiently answer their query.

A product page, however, would need to:

  • Provide a brief summary of the blender;
  • Show photos of the blender, different angles of it, as well as different variations of the product;
  • Display the price;
  • Allow customers to Add to Cart or Save for later;
  • Include technical specs of the blender;
  • Recommend related products;
  • Display sortable customer testimonials and ratings.

The last thing a shopper would want is to be directed to a product page that reads like one of your services pages.

So, great content not only needs to be well-written and error-free, but it needs to match the searcher’s intent and expectations. If you can do that, your visitors will stay as long as they need to read through everything, which will help strengthen the page’s ranking.

8. Structure Your Content for Scannability and Readability

Including necessary details and in the right format is an important part of making a page’s content valuable to the visitor. The structure is going to help, too.

For starters, you want to make sure every page is human-readable. So, that involves:

  • Shorter sentences and paragraphs;
  • Linkable table of contents for longer pages;
  • Header tags every few hundred words;
  • Descriptive and supportive imagery throughout;
  • Text callouts like blockquotes and bolded phrases.

By making a page less intimidating to read and easier to scan for a quick summary of what it is, you’ll find that more visitors are willing to read it and follow your calls to action.

You can use a tool like Hemingway to improve your page’s readability. Quickly pop the text of each page into the editor and follow the recommended suggestions:

You’re also going to have to think about how well Google’s indexing bots can read your page. They’re smart enough to pick up on cues but not smart enough to sit down and read your article on the benefits of Vitamin D or how to install a new showerhead.

So, you’ll need to use HTML meta tags as well as hierarchical header tags to tell the bots what the page is about.

If you’re building a WordPress site, you can use the Yoast SEO plugin to analyze how scannable and readable each page of your site is (among other things):

9. Create Click-Worthy Title Tags and Meta Descriptions

To get eyeballs on your really great content, the brief preview users see of it in search results needs to be able to lure them in. Get more clicks to your site from search, and Google will take notice.

But they can’t just be superficial clicks. If Google notices that your page is getting a ton of traffic that almost immediately drops off once they see the content on the page, your page will not fare well in search results.

So, your goal is to stay away from clickbait-y title tags and meta descriptions and make them click-worthy.

The first thing to focus on is the length. Google only gives you a certain amount of space to make your pitch.

There are many tools you can use for this, but I prefer Mangools’s SERP Simulator:

It allows you to play around with your URL, title tag, and meta description and to watch in real-time as it fits the allotted space. You can also compare it to the pages that currently rank for the keyword you’re going after, which can be a really useful reference point. After all, if those sites have made it to the first SERP, then they’re doing something right.

Another thing to think about when writing click-worthy titles is how engaging they are.

The tool I recommend for this is CoSchedule’s Headline Studio:

I don’t find this useful so much for basic web pages. You don’t need to get creative with something like your About or Contact pages. But for content marketing? If you want to beat out competing articles for attention in Google, this tool will be very useful.

10. Choose One Focus Keyword Per Page

It’s not as though you can add a keyword tag to your page, and Google will automatically rank your site for it. That’s not what keyword optimization is.

Instead, what you do is select one unique keyword per page and write the content around it. So, it’s really more about creating a clear focus for yourself and then comprehensively unpacking the subject matter on the page.

Keep in mind, though, that if you want to improve your chances of ranking for the keyword, it needs to be relevant to your brand, useful for your audience, and your site needs to actually be able to compete for it.

You can use the Google Keyword Planner to find keywords that fit those criteria:

Ultimately, you should choose a keyword that:

  • Has a decent amount of monthly searches — over 1,000 is what I aim for;
  • Have “Low” to “Medium” amount of competition, but the lower, the better;
  • Matches the user intent. So take that keyword, put it into Google and see what you find. Then, look at the sites on that first page of search results. Do they match what your own page will address? If so, then you’ve found a keyword that aligns with your users’ search intent.

Now, if you’re writing great content that addresses your visitors’ questions and concerns, then optimizing for your focus keywords will happen naturally. The same goes for related keywords you might want to target. As you write the content for each page, the keywords will organically appear.

But remember how I said Google’s indexing bots need certain HTML and header tags to “read” the content on the page? This means you’ll need to include the focus keyword in some of those areas, so there is no question about what the page is about.

Here’s where your focus keyword should show up:

  • Title tag (H1);
  • Meta description;
  • Slug (hyperlink);
  • Within the intro;
  • The first H2 header tag;
  • Alt text for the most important image on the page;
  • Within the conclusion.

It should also appear throughout the page, along with variations of the keyword that people might search for.

You can use the Yoast SEO plugin to analyze this as well.

11. Improve Your Internal Link Strategy

Okay, so here’s where we start to get into SEO strategies that Google might not directly care about, but that can still drastically improve how well your site ranks.

Internal links, in particular, are valuable because they create an interconnected structure for your site. Here’s a basic example of why that’s important:

Let’s say these are the pages on your website. Each of them can be accessed from the home page and main navigation. This structure tells us that each page is related to the overall message and mission of the company, but they are not related to one another. And that doesn’t make sense, right?

When you’re educating visitors on your Web Design services, it’s naturally going to come up that you also happen to specialize in WordPress and eCommerce design. So, those internal links should appear on your Web Design page. And vice versa.

In addition, your Portfolio and Contact Us pages are likely going to be the most common CTAs on the site. Your prospective clients shouldn’t be forced to backtrack to the homepage or scroll up to the navigation to take action. By including these internal links or buttons within the content of the services pages, you’re giving them a quick and direct line to the next steps.

The more intuitive you make the user journey, the easier it will be for them to convert.

This is one reason why websites with a strong internal linking structure perform well in search results. Another reason is that internal links help Google’s bots find all of the content on your site and better understand how they relate to one another.

12. Use Only Trustworthy External Links

Link juice is one of the reasons why business owners are obsessed with getting backlinks. We’ll get to that shortly.

But it’s also something that comes into play when choosing external links to include on your site.

Link juice is the idea that one site can pass its authority to another through a dofollow link. So, by linking out to authoritative and trustworthy sources, your site may raise its own clout with the search engines because of that connection.

However, it works both ways. If you create external links to websites with misinformation that pose a security threat to visitors or are otherwise untrustworthy, that bad reputation can do your website harm.

So, make sure that every external link you use is necessary and reliable. If not, get rid of it.

13. Get Your Site Listed As a Featured Snippet

I said earlier in this post that pay-per-click advertising is the only way to shortcut the SEO process and get on the first page of Google. That’s not entirely true.

We’ve already seen how optimizing your images for Google Images search can shoot your site to the top of results. Another way to get ahead is by optimizing your page using structured data to land a spot as a featured snippet.

Like this page from Bankrate that answers the question “how do you get a loan”:

Remember that structured data alone won’t instantly move your web page into the featured snippet space. The content needs to be the best it can be, and the structured data needs to be well written.

Schema.org was created to help you pick the right category and write the structured data for it:

Use this to write up the relevant microdata for the pages to make the most sense to do so. For instance, an About page probably wouldn’t benefit from having structured data attached to it. However, a lengthy blog post that explains a step-by-step process would.

There are WordPress plugins (Yoast is one of them) that will help you insert this code into your pages if you prefer.

14. Get High-Quality Backlinks

Backlinks pointing to your website are a huge indicator to Google that your site is share-worthy and authoritative.

However, like everything else in SEO, you can’t cheat your way into a bunch of backlinks. They need to come from authoritative sources, and they need to be relevant. That’s why paying or bartering for backlinks isn’t usually effective. If your web page’s backlink doesn’t organically fit within the content on their site, visitors aren’t going to click on it.

There are lots of ways to go about building up a repository of backlinks that do generate authority for you and improve your SEO ranking in the process:

Get active on social media and become an authority there: The rule is generally that 80% of your posts need to be non-promotional. By sharing content from all kinds of sources that are relevant to your audience, you’re going to get more meaningful engagement. And this’ll eventually put the spotlight on your own content and get people to share it on social media, too.

This is something that Google will look at when ranking your site: What sort of social signals are coming from your brand?

Get featured as an expert: You don’t need to become an influencer for people to view you as an expert in your field. It’s all about your reputation.

By leveraging your reputation to get speaking gigs, you’ll grow your authority even more. Just make sure they’re relevant to what you do. So, look for podcasts, webinars, and conferences in your field that are looking for experts.

Become a guest blogger: If public speaking isn’t your forte, that’s okay. Turn your attention instead to lining up guest blogging gigs.

By writing high-quality content for authoritative websites (whether you get paid or not), you’ll bring more attention to your own brand. And Google will pass that authority onto your site.

15. Create a Google My Business Page

Any business can create a Google My Business page. There are a number of SEO-related benefits to doing this.

The first is that local businesses can literally put themselves on the map with Google My Business. Here’s what a Google search for “restaurants near me” looks like:

Even if your site doesn’t appear on the first SERP, the map that sits at the top of search results can give you a front seat anyway.

Another reason to create a My Business page is that you get to control your knowledge graph sidebar, like Ford’s Garage does here:

By including high-quality graphics, pertinent details about the business, and collecting positive customer reviews, this knowledge graph could do your brand’s reputation a lot of good in the eyes of Google and your prospects.

16. Refresh Your Content

This is useful for all of the content on your site, even your most high-performing pages.

If your site is starting to gain traction, take a close look at your Google Analytics data. You may find a few pages that no one seems to be paying attention to or, worse, that they always seem to bounce from.

In Google Analytics, go to Behavior > Site Content to figure out which pages are underperforming.

Then, ask yourself:

  1. Is this page even a necessary part of the user journey? If not, you can probably scrap it and have one less distraction on your site.
  2. If this page is necessary, what do you need to do to make it more valuable and relevant to your audience?

With the most popular pages on your site, it’s not unreasonable to expect that at least part of what you originally wrote will go stale or become irrelevant within a year or two. So, it’s a good idea to refresh these as well.

To do that, it’s simple. Do a search in Google for your focus keyword. Read through the top five results and see what sort of information your post is missing. Then update it accordingly.

Anything outdated or irrelevant should also be stripped out.

17. Regularly Monitor Google Search Console

Last but not least, you should keep your eyes on Google Search Console.

There’s a lot of valuable information in here that will tell you why your site might not be ranking as well as it could. You’ll find issues related to:

  • Indexing
  • Mobile usability
  • Security
  • Core Web Vitals

You’ll also find data on how well your site is ranking in general. You’ll find this under the Performance tab:

Use this to identify:

  • Which keywords you’re ranking for and are driving traffic to your site;
  • Which keywords you’re getting the most impressions from but not getting clicks from;
  • Which keywords you’re getting the most clicks from but not a lot of impressions;
  • Which keywords you rank low for and could stand to improve upon.

You can learn a lot about how strong your SEO strategy is. Just use the Clicks, Impressions, and Position tabs to sort your data so you can better understand what’s going on.

Then, prioritize fixing the pages that can and should be bringing your site highly qualified traffic but aren’t.

Wrap-Up

If you’re wondering how long it’ll take before you see an improvement in your SEO ranking, it depends. If your domain’s current authority is low, it can realistically take about six months to see major changes. That said, if you implement all of the suggestions above, you can certainly expedite that.

Just remember that there are no real shortcuts in SEO. You need to have an authoritative and trustworthy website and brand before anything else. So, take the time to build your credibility online so that these SEO tactics can really work.

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Monitoring Kubernetes cert-manager Certificates With BotKube

The monitoring and alerting stack is a crucial part of the SRE practices. That’s where BotKube helps you monitor your Kubernetes cluster and send notifications to your messaging platform or any other configured sink. In this blog post, we will be configuring BotKube to watch the Kubernetes cert-manager certificates CustomResources.

What is BotKube?

BotKube is a messaging tool for monitoring and debugging Kubernetes clusters. BotKube can be integrated with multiple messaging platforms like – Slack, Mattermost, or Microsoft Teams to help you monitor your Kubernetes cluster(s), debug critical deployments, and gives recommendations for standard practices by running checks on the Kubernetes resources.

Source de l’article sur DZONE

Top Blogging Platforms Worth Considering in 2021

Want to know which of the top blogging platforms you should consider using this year?

Blogging is still one of the best ways to draw attention to your brand, generate thought leadership, and build your credibility. Research suggests that US internet users spend 3x more of their browsing time on blogs than on email. Additionally, people view about 20 billion blog pages on average each month. 

So, how do you join the blogging revolution? You’ll need the right platform. 

Essentially, a blogging platform is a CMS (Content Management System) which supports blog creation. Many come with additional tools like SEO support and integrations with email marketing too. There are tons of great blogging platforms out there, which means knowing where to start searching can be tough. To help you, we’ve put together this list of the leading blogging platforms.

What to Look for in a Blogging Platform

Before we sort through our list of the leading blogging platforms, let’s start with a quick overview of what the best blogging solutions typically include. Notably, depending on what you’re going to be using your blog for, you may have other features to prioritize besides those listed here. These features will act as a starting point for your comparisons:

Ease of Use

Uploading, publishing, and sharing your blog shouldn’t be a headache. 

There are many website builders out there that seem to have blogging tacked on as an “extra” rather than having it built into the foundations of the software. This often leads to a clunky backend experience when you’re building your site. 

If you’re a new blogger or don’t want to spend time messing around with HTML and coding, make sure that your blogging environment is easy to use. The simpler it is to distribute your content, the more likely you’ll stick to your blogging strategy. 

Cost and Revenue Opportunities

Many of the top blogging platforms come with a fee to think about. Even if you use an open-source platform for blogging, you still need to consider domain names, hosting, and security costs. Finding the right balance between spend and return on investment is crucial. 

Remember, just because a blogging platform is cheap doesn’t mean it’s good value. Similarly, expensive software may not be the best for your business. Ideally, you want something that’s going to deliver a good blogging experience, combined with plenty of opportunities to grow your readership for the lowest possible price. 

If you want to get the best return on investment, focus on the kind of monetization options you can access with each platform. Medium, for instance, has a partner program that allows you to earn money on the posts that customers read. Platforms like Wix, WordPress, and Squarespace can all offer earning opportunities too. You can use them to place certain content behind a paywall, create subscriptions, and sell products or services. 

Marketing and Growth Tools

Most blogging platforms will come with at least some tools to help you build your online presence. Wix and WordPress integrate with Google marketing, so you can purchase PPC campaigns and track your organic content through an SEO dashboard. 

The majority of CMS tools equipped with blogging capabilities also come with integrations for your email marketing service. This ensures you can create automated campaigns that inform your audience whenever a new blog post goes live. 

One of the best things about WordPress is how many plugins you can access to boost your readership levels. Access to extra tools like SEO solutions, landing form creators, and pop-ups can all boost your chances of converting and capturing leads. 

Custom Branding

If you’re keen to save money on your blogging platform, you might be tempted to start with a free version of a popular service. This is fine when you’re just testing the waters. However, you will need to spend extra if you want to remove the ads that other website builders put on your site. For instance, Wix’s free version will place ads on your pages and show the Wix identity in your footer. 

To build your own brand identity, you’re going to need to replace that CMS branding with your own. Look for a blogging service where you can buy your own domain name, customize your themes, and add your own colors, images, and logos into the mix. 

While tools like Medium won’t run ads on your campaigns, they also don’t allow you to customize your site to showcase your brand personality. It’s much easier to build a memorable identity when you can control what your site looks like. 

Upkeep and Maintenance

This ties in a little with the “ease of use” factor above. Before you invest in any blogging platform, think about how much work it’s going to require. A hosted blogging platform is pretty easy to manage because you don’t have to worry about security and uptime yourself.

Products like Wix and Squarespace will give you access to SSL certificates, patch security issues on your behalf, and handle other complicated site maintenance issues. WordPress and other open-source solutions require you to take more of a hands-on approach. You’ll need to manage your own web hosting and check the security of your site regularly. 

Flexibility

This feature is often overlooked in some guides to the best blogging platforms, but it’s also growing increasingly more important in today’s digital age. If you want your website to work for years to come, you need to make sure it’s flexible. This could mean that you look for something that allows you to upload different kinds of content, like written blogs and connecting podcasts. 

It could also mean investing in a service that has a lot of integrations and add-on options available. Plugins are fantastic for extending the functionality of your blog without having to move your entire site to another location. 

The right plugins can even allow you to transform your blog into a store if you decide to start selling your services or products later. 

The Best Blogging Platforms for 2021

Now we’ve covered what to look for in a blogging platform, we can begin to explore some of the top platforms on the market today. We’ve chosen these platforms for their ease of use, flexibility, performance, customization options, and value. 

WordPress

The best-known and most popular blogging platform in the world, WordPress is the go-to choice for most bloggers and website creators. Currently, there are around 64 million websites actively using WordPress as their chosen CMS. Usage stats also show that around 400 million people visit WordPress websites every month. 

WordPress powers most of the internet as one of the most flexible and easy-to-use platforms around. The biggest decision most users need to make is between WordPress.com and WordPress.org. 

You can create a blog for free at WordPress.com, and the company will host your site for you. However, you have to use a subdomain (rather than your own domain) with the free version. You’ll also lose control of your ads with the free package until you upgrade to a premium plan. 

A personal plan on WordPress.com starts at about $4 per month, and it removes all ads from your site. The more functionality you need, the more you’ll need to upgrade. WordPress.com is very easy to use and requires minimal initial setup, but it’s not very scalable. There are no custom themes, and you don’t technically “own” your blog this way. 

WordPress.org is a different story. With WordPress.org, you’re accessing an open-source blogging platform that allows you to build your site from scratch. You do need to purchase your own domain name and hosting with this service, but the software is free to use. 

WordPress.org is a lot more appealing to most bloggers because it’s so customizable. Features include:

  • Free and premium themes that you can customize to suit your brand;
  • Thousands of plugins to help with security, SEO, subscriptions, and more;
  • Gutenberg block editors to make creating and publishing blogs easy;
  • Tons of SEO friendly solutions to help you stand out online;
  • Access to a huge community of experts;
  • Infinite control over your design options;
  • Advanced user permissions and roles.

Pricing: WordPress.org is different from most blogging platforms because the foundation technology is free. You just pay for the a-la-carte options, like plugins, hosting, and domain name subscriptions. This means you can choose how expensive your site is going to be.

Pros:

  • Extremely easy to use with lots of community support available;
  • Free platform (though you do need to pay for the domain and hosting);
  • Lots of customization and plugin options to expand site functionality;
  • Search engine friendly as-standard, to help you grow;
  • Plenty of ways to make your brand stand out.

Cons:

  • It can be difficult to control your own website at first;
  • You have to manage your own backup and security;
  • Extra costs can quickly build up.

Squarespace

Squarespace is one of the more popular website design and blogging tools for people with a creative streak. Unlike WordPress.org, Squarespace gives you everything you need to build your own website straight out of the box. This includes hosting, the option to purchase your own domain name, and access to a range of beautiful templates. 

Squarespace stands out for its focus on small business owners. You can choose from a range of stunning designs and customize them however you choose with a convenient drag-and-drop builder. There’s also a fantastic customer service experience available from Squarespace, with a team that’s ready to help you with anything you need. 

Like many other hosted blogging platforms, you start on Squarespace by choosing the templates you like and customizing from there. There are some limitations in what you can do here, particularly if you have a lot of coding knowledge, making Squarespace less appealing to growing companies or larger brands. On the plus side, you do get features like:

  • Dedicated blogging templates to get you started;
  • Categories, tags, and featured post options;
  • Built-in scheduling for your blog posts;
  • Contributor roles and permissions;
  • Analytics to track your readers’ favorite posts;
  • Email marketing tools;
  • Social media and SEO solutions built-in;
  • Mobile app access.

Pricing: Compared to some of the other leading blogging solutions on the market, Squarespace is also quite affordable. The personal package at $12 per month will power a website with a stunning blog. You can also upgrade to the Business version for $18 per month, or if you decide to start selling your own products through your blog, you can transition to “Basic Commerce” at $26 per month.

Pros:

  • Squarespace is easy to use for beginners;
  • Fantastic range of stunning templates included;
  • SEO, email marketing, and social media marketing included;
  • SSL and HTTPS support;
  • Access to eCommerce features on some plans;
  • Useful analytics tools.

Cons:

  • Not very scalable for bigger brands;
  • Limited in terms of integrations and customization.

Medium

Medium is a different kind of blogging platform to many of the options mentioned here. This isn’t a tool you can use to build your own websites, like Wix or Squarespace. Instead, it’s a community you join with a monthly membership fee. 

Medium comes with a built-in audience, so you can immediately start speaking to customers and generating results from your content. As mentioned above, there’s also a Partner Program, which is free to join. The Partner Program allows you to earn money if people are reading your blogs regularly. 

For companies or individuals who just want to generate brand awareness but don’t want to invest in an entire blog-ready website yet, Medium can be a powerful choice. You can easily share posts and view what other people are posting. The biggest downside is that you can’t build an entire community and earn a fortune through your website with Medium. 

Medium is more like a social networking site, where you can begin to develop thought leadership than a true space to carve out your piece of the online world. But it does feature things like:

  • An easy-to-use environment for publishing content;
  • Analytics and insights into your campaigns;
  • Some design customization for your blog layout;
  • Access to a pre-existing audience of readers;
  • Support for monetization in the Partner program;
  • Access to picture uploading options;
  • Mobile-responsive blog posts.

Pricing: You don’t have to be a paid member of Medium to sign up for the partner program and start publishing blogs. This does make it a pretty good way to enhance your existing blogging strategy if you’re trying to generate more attention online. 

Pros:

  • Free to use for Partners and creators;
  • Excellent for appealing to already-engaged customers;
  • Easy to use, with no coding required;
  • No requirement to create a website or pay for hosting;
  • Communicate with a team of like-minded people.

Cons:

  • Limited customization options;
  • No ownership over your audience or readership;
  • Limitations to how you can make money (no ads).

LinkedIn

LinkedIn is among the most popular platforms for professionals in the world. It’s the go-to place for people in search of reliable ways to develop their professional network. Currently, there are around 756 million members on LinkedIn. When they’re not searching for connections with their peers or chatting about work opportunities, they’re checking out the content on the platform. 

If you’re keen to develop your position as a thought leader but prefer social media accounts to full websites, LinkedIn is the perfect choice. The more you publish on LinkedIn, the more you’ll attract new people who might want to work with you, invest in your company, or just work as part of your team. 

LinkedIn is a great place to generate attention if you’re in the B2B marketplace because most professionals already have their own account. You can also earn social proof by getting people to “endorse” your work. Some of the features of LinkedIn for bloggers include:

  • Private messaging for interactions with connections;
  • Notifications to help you keep track of valuable content;
  • A full profile posting section where you can publish your blogs;
  • A convenient network of active B2B professionals;
  • Endorsements for social proof;
  • A resume and blogging platform in one (you can list your skills);
  • Job searching and employee searching features.

Pricing: It’s free to access a basic membership with LinkedIn, but you will be limited on some of the features you can unlock. For instance, you can only send messages to people already in your network, and you’ll have limited analytics. LinkedIn Premium gives you slightly more functionality, with Business accounts starting at around $29.95 per month. 

Pros: 

  • Tons of people ready to read your blogs;
  • Great for building your professional network;
  • Good environment for thought leadership;
  • Access to extra tools like job listings;
  • Notifications to keep you on top of relevant posts;
  • Engagement options like private messaging;
  • Reports and insights.

Cons: 

  • No access to full website branding;
  • Limits to how you can monetize your content;
  • You don’t own the site or your traffic.

Wix

Easily one of the most popular website building solutions for beginners, Wix can help you build both a blog and a fully-featured website. You can even design your own store with Wix and start selling products whenever you choose. 

Wix is a straightforward site builder which you can use to build a site in a matter of minutes. There are hundreds of website themes to choose from, and you can also add as many customizations as you choose with the convenient drag-and-drop editor. The blog manager section of the CMS is also simple and intuitive, with SEO and analytics built in already. 

Wix aims to make jumping into blogging as quick and painless as possible. Elements like comments, social tools, hashtags, and subscriber forms are already available, and you can add further plugins if you choose. There’s also the option to include sharing buttons for social media accounts like Twitter, Facebook, and more. Features of Wix include:

  • An extensive range of blog templates;
  • Drag-and-drop customization (no coding required);
  • Subscriber forms, comments, likes, and categories;
  • Social media connections;
  • Extra features like store access;
  • Analytics and insights;
  • Quick and easy blogging interface.

Pricing: 

The most basic features of the Wix website builder are free to use. With a free Wix account, you’ll get a subdomain where you can’t choose the name of your own website, unfortunately. However, you can add a custom domain for only $4.50 per month. If you want a full premium plan with Wix, costs start at $8.50 per month and extend to $24.50 per month.

Pros:

  • Lots of pre-built blogging themes;
  • Easy customization options with no coding skills required;
  • Quick and easy to load and publish blogs;
  • Connections with social media platforms;
  • Access to various third-party apps and integrations;
  • Free option for beginners.

Cons:

  • Some limitations to the free account;
  • Ecommerce features are limited to paid plans;
  • Not as scalable for bigger companies.

Ghost

Lesser known than some of the options we’ve discussed so far but still brimming with value, Ghost is a minimalist blogging platform that’s all about content creation. Ghost promises a range of ways for you to turn your blogging into a business, with access to customizable templates, newsletter integrations, premium subscriptions, and more. 

The dashboard for Ghost is clean and intuitive, with access to simple sections where you can add tags to your posts, create drafts, track published content, and access valuable insights. You’ll have an easy view of important metrics like email open rates and numbers of paid members at a glance. You can also find integrations to make your Ghost experience even better. 

Ghost works alongside things like Buffer, Stripe, Twitter, Slack, MailChimp, and many other tools so you can take your blog to the next level. There’s no need for any coding knowledge, and because everything is written in JavaScript, it’s ultra-fast too. Features include:

  • Easy-to-use and intuitive interface;
  • Blogging and writing focused;
  • Clean and clutter-free design;
  • Integrations with various powerful tools;
  • Super-fast JavaScript coding;
  • Lots of templates and customizations;
  • Comment, mobile apps, A/B testing, and more;
  • Analytics and reporting.

Pricing: There’s a 14-day free trial to get you started with Ghost, then subscriptions start at $9 per month when billed annually for up to 1,000 members, 1 staff user, 2k views per month, and an SSL and CDN. The same plan is $15 per month billed monthly. Prices go all the way up to $199 per month billed annually, or $249 per month for 1 million views per month, 35,000 members, 15 staff users, and a 99.99% uptime SLA. 

Pros: 

  • Focus on writing and blogging;
  • Clutter-free and clean backend environment;
  • Easy to use and speedy performance;
  • Lots of packages to choose from;
  • Great integration options.

Cons:

  • Some limitations in scalability;
  • Complicated setup when installed;
  • Not a huge number of themes.

Choosing Your Blogging Platform

Whether you’re blogging because you want to build your personal brand or you’re looking for a way to strengthen sales opportunities for your company, you’re going to need the right blogging platform. The options above are just some of the best blogging solutions available right now. 

Remember, do your research and explore the free versions available whenever possible, so you can confidently invest in the software that’s best for you.

 

Featured image via Unsplash.

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UX Design Doesn’t End With Your Website

User experience design is something that most of us associate with websites. But why isn’t it something we extend beyond the website?

Here’s why I ask this:

As a consumer, it’s so rare that your only interaction with a brand is through its website. Take an ecommerce site, for example. You buy a product from it, and then what happens?

  • You get a confirmation email;
  • You get another email when the package ships;
  • You might get another email or SMS notification when the package is delivered;
  • You retrieve the package and open it;
  • You open up your purchase and use it.

These are all an extension of that initial user experience on the site. If there’s just one hiccup along the way, it could easily erode the trust and happiness you felt after quickly finding and buying what you needed on the site.

So, what I’d like to do today is look at 10 areas where UX design should extend beyond the website to ensure that the frictionless experience started there remains untarnished.

Extending UX Design Beyond the Website

As a web designer, you might be thinking that this part of the user experience doesn’t fall under the umbrella of your responsibilities. And you may be right about that.

For brands to truly be successful and profitable, someone needs to carefully examine the bigger picture and ensure that the user experience is flawless no matter how far away from the site it is. At the very least, you should share the UX research and strategy you do for a client’s site so their team can ensure it carries over to other areas of the business.

Here are some things to think about:

1. Mobile App

It’s not uncommon for websites to have mobile app counterparts these days. The layout doesn’t need to be identical since mobile users tend to behave differently than those on desktop.

That said, an app shouldn’t force users accustomed to the desktop experience to re-learn how to navigate or engage with the brand. So, the branding, UI design, speed, security, and navigation all need to be on par with what’s already been established in terms of usability.

2. Email

Most websites have a direct connection to email. For example, blog newsletters, purchase confirmation emails, and lead generation follow-ups all start on the website.

Consumers are well aware that when they hand over their email address, they will receive an email in return. In many cases, those emails are welcomed when they’re done right. But if something feels off, that bridge could easily burn between brand and consumer.

To preserve the UX, emails should come with the following:

  • The same branding and visual style as the website;
  • A personalized subject line, greeting, or offer;
  • Consistent messaging as the site, especially when it comes to the CTA.

Another thing to remember is that email isn’t the time to inject dark patterns into the experience. So, the “Unsubscribe” option should be in an easy-to-spot area and a sharply contrasting font color.

3. Social Media

Social media is another channel that’s commonly connected to a website. While you can’t control the aesthetics of social media websites themselves, the visuals and messaging in posts need to be on-brand.

That means that things like memes and emojis — which are popular means of communication on social — should only be used if they’re normally part of the brand identity. If not, you’ll need to find other ways to communicate engagingly.

Another part of the user experience to think about is customer support. Social media is a lot like going into a store. If someone has an issue with what they bought or the service they received, there will be many people around to witness the complaint. Social media only amplifies that — so the quality of customer care needs to be consistent with how the brand handles it everywhere else.

4. SMS

Not every brand will need to be connected to customers via text messaging. eCommerce companies, news sites, and personal services providers likely will, though.

However a brand uses SMS, the same UX guidelines apply here as they do across all other channels:

  • Keep messages concise;
  • Make sure they’re relevant and valuable;
  • Use branded messaging and design;
  • Don’t abuse the privilege and send too many;
  • Make it easy to opt out.

Basically, if you can’t make it a valuable extension of the brand’s offering, don’t use it.

5. Phone

Any website that publishes its phone number should expect to receive calls from prospects and customers. While there’s nothing to design here visually, the experience of getting on the phone with a company should be consistent with what they experience elsewhere.

One way to do this is to design an easy-to-follow routing system. It should be simple for callers to figure out which number to choose. What’s more, there should be no endless loops. If a caller has exhausted the options, they should be immediately directed to a representative.

Another way to ensure consistency is to adhere to a script — that goes for call centers for enterprises as well as the local lawyer’s office. Every caller should be greeted with the same tone and handled in the same manner (depending on the situation, of course).

6. Ads

There are a lot of places where brands can advertise these days:

  • Google search;
  • Social media;
  • Ad networks;
  • TV;
  • Radio;
  • Podcasts;
  • Blogs;
  • Billboards;
  • Direct mail.

When designing an ad campaign, there should be consistent messaging, aesthetics (when relevant), and CTAs presented. If branding isn’t consistent from ad to ad, there may be a delay in consumers recognizing the brand or its offer. Or, worse, not recognizing it at all.

7. Packaging

For brands that sell products, you have to think about how the packaging will impact the user experience. There are two types of packages to consider, too.

The first is the product’s own packaging. Branding should be clear as day and consistent with the site they bought it from.

It should also be easy to open. There’s nothing more frustrating than finally getting your purchase, only to realize you need tools to get it out of the packaging.

You also have to think about packaging for products that get shipped.

The product should fit well within the packaging. A too-roomy package will feel downright wasteful. So will excessive bubble wrap and paper filler.

Having a shipping label present in the package is also important. If the website makes it easy to make a purchase, the package should offer a convenient way to return the product if they’re not happy.

8. Product

The product itself has to align with the expectations set by the website.

Take the example of a SaaS. You’ve built an awesome landing page and mobile app store page to promote it. It looks great, it loads fast, and it’s easy to get around. But if the SaaS itself is ugly, disorganized, slow, or otherwise just clunky, all of the work you did to market it will end up being just false advertising.

So, make sure the expectations set before and during purchase naturally carry over to the experience with the product.

9. Business Exterior

For brick-and-mortar companies, the business’s exterior matters just as much as what happens inside it.

The most obvious thing to focus on is the aesthetics of the building. Does it look attractive? Is it in a safe area? Is there clear signage around it? Is it easy to find?

But you also have to think about user experiences that take place outside of the building. For example, there’s now a rise in curbside pickup. There are tons of things that can affect how happy the customer is with the experience — like if the pickup area is hard to find, there are never enough spots or the associates who deliver the orders always seem to be in a foul mood.

The business’s exterior should always set a good impression for what takes place inside.

10. Business Interior

Here are some things to think about when it comes to “designing” business interiors for a good UX:

  • Decor;
  • Layout;
  • Signage;
  • Furnishings;
  • Product discoverability;
  • Availability (of products or people);
  • Quality of customer service;
  • Checkout process.

It doesn’t matter what the company does — whether it’s a large retailer like Walmart or your own freelance design business. If a business’s establishment doesn’t look good, operate flawlessly, or provide a good person-to-person experience, it’s going to be very hard to get people to return.

So, all those things you do to design a streamlined website journey should be applied to a bricks-and-mortar business’s interior.

Wrapping Up

Depending on the types of companies you build sites for, some of the channels and suggestions above might not be relevant. Hopefully, this has got you thinking about other ways you (and your clients) can extend the UX design and strategy from the website.

If you can maintain the high-quality user experience from channel to channel, your clients’ brands will get more business, grow their profitability, and see a rise in loyalty, too.

 

Featured image via Pexels.

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What Are Micro-apps and Why Businesses Need Them?

The idea behind building a mobile app has been to offer a faster, easier, and innovative experience on various devices to users, doing away with their need to browse websites. However, in a bid to stay relevant to consumers amidst competition, companies try to bundle up a million features together rather than offer a full-proof and specific solution for a certain user need. Being overwhelmed with numerous unnecessary features and functionalities, an app poses various inhibitions to a great user experience. In this blog, we will take a look at how a micro-app can help enterprises solve this issue.

What is a Micro-App?

It is a web/mobile-based, a customized app built to enable end-users to perform a certain, narrowed-down function. Unlike a conventional mobile app, which is bundled with multiple features and pages, the micro-app is smaller in size, more consumer-oriented, and built to offer certain functionality, has an easy user interface, with a dynamic loading that bypasses the app store. For instance, a Personal Banking app has several functions, such as viewing the balance, getting mini statements, changing the ATM password, money transfers, etc. However, if you build a micro-app for this, it will accomplish only that specific task, such as getting transaction history. 

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Create Beautiful WordPress Pages with Optimized Images Using Elementor and ImageEngine

WordPress powers nearly 40% of all websites, thanks to its commitment to making publication possible for everyone, for free. Combined with premium plugins and themes, it’s possibly the ultimate tool for building attractive, unique, and feature-rich websites without any coding or design experience.

However, you do pay the price for this experience, with WordPress and its third-party products not always being built for performance – whether it’s page loading times or SEO.

Image optimization is a particularly big concern. Images are one, if not the largest, contributors to page weight, and it’s growing significantly by the year. So, while images are crucial for beautifying your website pages, they are also one of the biggest factors slowing it down.

In terms of image optimization, WordPress+Elementor brings very little to the table. WordPress core now comes with both responsive syntax and lazy-loading. Elementor itself also only comes with responsive syntax out-of-the-box. However, these are baseline techniques for image optimization that will deliver the bare minimum of improvements.

This means that, while Elementor makes it easy to design sweet-looking WordPress pages (with tonnes of creatively utilized images), you will probably pay the price when it comes to performance. But don’t worry. We will show you how to dramatically improve web performance by over 30 points on scoring tools like Google’s PageSpeed Insight

Why Optimize Your Elementor Images with ImageEngine?

In general, image CDNs use various techniques to get image payloads as small as possible and deliver image content faster, all while minimizing the visual impact. ImageEngine is no different in that regard.

Firstly, ImageEngine, when used in auto mode, will apply all of the following optimizations that web performance tools like Google’s PageSpeed Insight recommend. For example:

  • Properly size images – ImageEngine automatically resizes images for optimal size-to-quality ratios depending on the screen size of the user device. ImageEngine supports Retina devices.
  • Efficiently encode images – Applies different rates of compression depending on the PPI of the user devices. For example, ImageEngine adapts and more aggressively compresses on higher PPI devices without losing visual quality.
  • Next-gen format conversion – Automatically converts images to the optimal next-gen format according to the browser, device, or OS. ImageEngine can convert images to WebP or JPEG-2000 as well as GIFs to MP4 or WebP.  AVIF is also available in a manual directive mode.
  • Strip unnecessary metadata

While these features are standard for most image CDNs, ImageEngine is unique for its use of WURFL device detection. This gives ImageEngine much deeper insight into the user device accessing a website page and, by extension, its images. Using the screen size, resolution, PPI, etc., ImageEngine can make more intelligent decisions regarding how to reduce image payloads while maintaining visual quality.

This is why ImageEngine brands itself as an “intelligent, device-aware” image CDN and why it can reduce image payloads by as much as 80% (if not more).

ImageEngine also provides a proprietary CDN service to accelerate image delivery. The CDN consists of 20 globally positioned PoPs with the device-aware logic built-in. This allows you to deliver image content faster in different regions while also serving images straight from the cache with a ~98% hit ratio.

ImageEngine also supports Chrome’s save data setting. If someone has a slow connection or has activated this setting, ImageEngine will automatically compress image payloads even more, to provide a better user experience on slower connections.

How to Use ImageEngine with WordPress and Elementor

If you’re using WordPress and Elementor, then chances are you want to spend as little time on development and other technicalities as possible. Luckily, ImageEngine is a highly streamlined tool that requires little to no effort to integrate or maintain with a WordPress site.

Assuming you already have a WordPress website with Elementor, here are the step-by-step instructions to use ImageEngine:

  1. Go to ImageEngine.io and sign up for a 30-day free trial.
  2. Provide ImageEngine with the URL of the website you want to optimize.
  3. Create an account (or sign up with your existing Google, GitHub, or ScientiaMobile account).
  4. Provide ImageEngine with the current origin where your images are served from. If you upload images to your WordPress website as usual, then that means providing your WordPress website address again.
  5. Finally, ImageEngine will generate an ImageEngine delivery address for you from where your optimized images will be served. This typically takes the form of: {randomstring}.cdn.imgeng.in. You can change the delivery address to something more meaningful from the dashboard, such as myimages.cdn.imgeng.in.

Now, to set up ImageEngine on your WordPress website:

  1. Go to the WordPress dashboard and head to Plugins -> Add New.
  2. Search for the “Image CDN” plugin by ImageEngine. When you find it, install and activate the plugin.

  1. Go to Settings -> Image CDN. OK, so this is the ImageEngine plugin dashboard. To configure it, all you need to do is:

a. Copy the delivery address you got from ImageEngine above and paste it in the “Delivery Address” field.

b. Tick the “Enable ImageEngine” box.

That’s literally it. All images that you use on your WordPress/Elementor pages should now be served via the ImageEngine CDN already optimized. 

ImageEngine is largely a “set-it-and-forget-it” tool. It will provide the best results in auto mode with no user input. However, you can override some of ImageEngine’s settings from the dashboard or by using URL directives to manipulate images.

For example, you can resize an image to 300 px width and convert it to WebP by changing the src attribute like this:

<img src="https://myimages.cdn.imgeng.in/wp-content/uploads/2021/03/banner-logo.png?imgeng=/w_300/f_webp">

However, use this only when necessary, as doing so will limit ImageEngine’s adaptability under different conditions.

What Improvement Can You Expect?

Let’s see what results you can expect from using an image CDN to improve your page loading times.

For this, I created two identical WordPress pages using the Elementor theme. The one page purely relied on WordPress and Elementor, while I installed and set up ImageEngine for the other. The page had some galleries as well as full-size images:

The pages used many high-quality images, as you might expect to find on a professional photography gallery, photography blog, stock photo website, large e-commerce site, etc. I then ran page performance tests using Chrome’s built-in Lighthouse audit tool, choosing scores representing the average results I got for each page.

For thoroughness, I tested both the mobile and desktop performance. However, I focused on the mobile results as these showcase more of the image CDN’s responsive capabilities. Mobile traffic also accounts for the majority share of internet traffic and seems to be the focus for search engines going forward.

So, first of all, let’s see the mobile score for the page without ImageEngine:

As you can see, there was definitely a struggle to deliver the huge amount of image content. Google has shown that 53% of mobile users abandon a page that takes more than 3s to load. So, clearly, this page has major concerns when it comes to user experience and retaining traffic.

The desktop version fared much better, although it still left much to be desired:

When digging into the reasons behind the slowdown, we can identify the following problems:

Most of the issues related somehow to the size and weight of the images. As you can see, Lighthouse identified a 3.8 MB payload while the total image payload of the entire page was close to 40 MB.

Now, let’s see what kind of improvement ImageEngine can make to these issues by looking at the mobile score first:

So, as you can see, a major improvement of 30 points over the standard WordPress/Elementor page. The time to load images was cut down by roughly 80% across the key core web vital metrics, such as FCP, LCP, and the overall Speed Index.

In fact, we just reached that critical 3s milestone for the FCP (the largest element on the visible area of the page when it initially loads), which creates the impression that the page has finished loading and will help you retain a lot of mobile traffic.

The desktop score was also much higher, and there was further improvement across the key performance metrics.

If we look at the performance problems still present, we see that images are almost completely removed as a concern. We also managed to bring down the initial 3.8 MB payload to around 1.46 MB, which is a ~62% reduction:

An unfortunate side effect of using WordPress and WordPress plugins is that you will almost inevitably face a performance hit due to all the additional JavaScript and CSS. This is part of the reason why we didn’t see even larger improvements. That’s the price you pay for the convenience of using these tools.

That being said, the more images you have on your pages, and the larger their sizes, the more significant the improvement will be.

It’s also worth noting that lazy-loaded images were loaded markedly faster with ImageEngine if you quickly scroll down the page, again making for an improved user experience.

Thanks to its intelligent image compression, there was also no visible loss in image quality, as you can see from this comparison:

Conclusion

So, as you can see, we can achieve significant performance improvements on image-heavy websites by using the ImageEngine image CDN, despite inherent performance issues using a CMS. This will translate to happier users, better search engine rankings, and an overall more successful website.

The best part is that ImageEngine stays true to the key principles of WordPress. You don’t have to worry about any of the nuts and bolts on the inside. And, ImageEngine will automatically adjust automation strategies as needed, future-proofing you against having to occasionally rework images for optimization.

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