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Branding 101: How to Get Your Design Business Online

You’ve named your business. You’ve sorted out the visual branding piece. Now, it’s time to get your business online so you can start making money.

In this post, we’re going to look at where your web design business needs to set up shop online and how to get it up and running quickly.

Step 1: Set Up Your Website

As a web designer or developer, having a website is non-negotiable.

Not only does a website provide prospective clients with all the information they need about you, it can help you automate many of those annoying tasks that get in the way of your actual paid work.

So, let’s start here:

Buy Your Domain Name

If you haven’t done so already, use the business name generator exercise to come up with a domain name. You then have a couple of options for buying it.

To Do:

  • Buy it from a domain name provider like GoDaddy or Domain.com;
  • Or buy it from your web hosting company;
  • Check the next step to see which option makes the most sense for you.

Choose a CMS

Use the same CMS as the one you’ll use to build your clients’ sites. That way, clients don’t wonder why you’d use something like Squarespace for your site, but then recommend WordPress for theirs, for example.

To Do:

  • If you use a self-hosted CMS (like WordPress, Drupal, or Joomla), hold on this until you purchase your web hosting;
  • If you use a hosted CMS (like Wix, Squarespace, or Shopify), you won’t need to do the next step. Instead, just sign up for your website builder and buy your domain name now.

Buy Your Web Hosting

If you’re wondering what the difference is between the various types of web hosting, read this post.

Basically, this is what you’re looking for:

  • A hosting company with a good reputation that provides expert and timely support;
  • An affordable starter plan — either shared or cloud hosting;
  • Server locations near you (at the very least, in the same country as you);
  • Top-notch security features at the server level as well as the physical hosting facility;
  • Caching and other speed optimizations built into the server and on-site equipment;
  • Compatibility with your CMS (look for one-click install, too).

Also, look for add-ons like SSL certificates, CDNs, and, of course, a free domain name.

To Do:

  • Sign up for the hosting plan you want along with your domain name and SSL certificate (this is a must for SEO);
  • Install your CMS from the control panel once you’re ready to go.

Build Your Website

Ultimately, you have two goals here:

  1. To build a website that convinces prospective clients that you’re the real deal;
  2. To build a website that prospects would want for themselves.

So, there’s no need to go crazy with outlandish features or futuristic animations and design. Keep it simple. Keep it neat. And give prospects an honest portrayal of who you are, and what you can do for them.

Design It

The first thing to do is take all that work you did to create your visual branding and use it to design your website.

If you’re building a WordPress website, consider starting with one of these multipurpose themes.

Build Out the Pages You Need

A theme will automatically create the pages you need (most of them, anyway). If you’re not sure which ones to start with, these are the ones your prospects are going to be looking for:

You may also want to add separate pages for Testimonials and Case Studies once you’ve accumulated enough of them to show off. For now, you can include samples of your work in the Portfolio page and testimonials on the Home page.

Fill in the Content

Even if writing isn’t your strong suit, that’s okay. So long as the content you write for your site is free of spelling and grammar errors, your prospective clients are going to focus on what you’re telling them, not on how proficient a writer you are.

That said, if you’re nervous about this piece of your website, here are some tips to help you out:

1. Be concise, it’s not just minimal design that goes over well with modern audiences. Minimal copy does, too.

2. Be transparent. Tell prospects what exactly they can expect when they work with you and why your web design services are going to be different from the competition.

3. Consumers don’t trust companies that use meaningless buzzwords and make empty claims. Instead, focus on writing about the real and very competitive skills you have. According to research from NIDO Student, these are the skills employers look for when hiring a designer:

4. Let your images tell some of the story for you. Just make sure you use (or create) images that will impress your audience.

5. After you’ve written your content, take a step back and tackle the structure and formatting from a designer’s POV.

6. Before you hit the “Publish” button, run your copy through Hemingway Editor to ensure your content is error-free.

Add the Right Features

When I talk about features, I’m referring to anything outside the main design and content on your website. These are usually sales and marketing tools like:

  • Chatbot/live chat
  • Contact forms
  • Pop-ups or notification banners
  • Discovery call scheduler
  • Cookies consent notice

Only add the features you absolutely need. In other words, the features that will automate the marketing and sales tasks you’d otherwise have to manage on your own.

Step 2: Optimize Your Website for Search Engines

Search engine optimization (SEO) is a very important part of the work you do to get your business online. Here’s why:

After you launch your business and website, the next thing you’re going to focus on is getting clients. This can take a lot of work as you pore over the following resources for referrals and leads:

  • Your existing contact list (i.e. family, friends, old employers, colleagues, etc.);
  • Freelance job boards;
  • Industry-specific job boards;
  • Social media posts, pages, and groups;
  • Google search results for “we’re hiring”;
  • And so on…

And when you’re not busy cold-emailing prospective clients or talking to them on the phone, you’re probably going to be working on your business’ processes. Running a business is very time-consuming.

So, what happens when you finally start working on website projects? It’s not like the client search ends there. It’s an ongoing thing. Which is why your website needs to be optimized for search.

Once your site gets indexed by Google and starts to generate authority, your pages will rank better and the increased visibility will start generating leads without you having to actively make the first move.

SEO is a huge topic, so I’m not going to cover it here. However, the links below will do a good job of guiding you towards your next steps.

To Do:

Step 3: Get Active on Social Media

Your website is going to play a lot of roles:

  • Digital business card;
  • Authority builder;
  • Marketing vehicle;
  • Sales platform;
  • Content marketer.

But there’s one very critical thing it can’t do and that’s directly converse with your audience and grow your network. This is why you need to spend time building out your social media once your website is good to go.

As for which social media platforms to use (as there are way too many), here are my thoughts:

Become an authority on Twitter.

Twitter is a good place to share daily thoughts and interesting content you’ve found on the web.

Get discovered on LinkedIn.

LinkedIn is useful because it’s another place to get noticed by potential employers, so make sure your relevant work experience and portfolio are up-to-date.

Connect with other creatives on Facebook.

It’s really hard to get noticed on Facebook unless you pay to play. Instead, use it to find groups that you can turn to for support, referrals, and brainstorming.

Share your work on Dribbble.

While you could use Instagram or Pinterest to show off your work, you might get more traction on a design-specific platform like Dribbble. Serve as inspiration for others and potentially get discovered by prospects looking for designers there.

Down the line you might decide to expand your business into recurring revenue opportunities like online courses. In that case, a platform like YouTube would be great. For now, focus your efforts on the main ones above.

To Do:

  • Create your social media accounts;
  • Brand them to match your website — both the visual component as well as the bio;
  • Start sharing content on a regular basis. You can automate sharing with a social media management tool, but remember to log in at least a couple times a week so you can engage with others, too;
  • Be careful not to commit these social media faux pas.

Wrap-Up

I realize this is a ton of information to throw at you. However, if you want to get your new business online and for it to succeed, you need to maximize the opportunities that are available to you.

I hope this three-part guide to starting a new business has been helpful. If you have any questions on the tips provided along the way, let me know in the comments.

 

Featured image via Pexels.

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Source de l’article sur Webdesignerdepot

20 Freshest Web Designs, November 2020

As we approach our first winter holiday season since the pandemic set in, the world could feel like a very scary place; there is a great deal of uncertainty about the future for businesses, for young people in education, for jobs, for travel. Celebrations are certainly going to be a lot quieter this year.

And yet, the web is far from showing doom and gloom. We’re seeing confidence and positivity in designs across the board. As businesses and people adapt to the demands of social distancing and WFH, we’re seeing a focus on simplifying, appreciating quality over quantity, taking better care of ourselves and our world, and making the most of our time. And this is reflected through design in a variety of ways: visually minimal style, pared down content, fresh colors, statement type, great photography, illustration.

There is confidence in abundance on the web. Enjoy…

Mammut Expedition Baikal

Mammut make outdoor clothing and equipment, and this microsite is for its Eiger Extreme collection. Stunning photographs of Swiss speed climber Dani Arnold climbing at Lake Baikal in Siberia are cleverly interspersed with details of the company’s products he can be seen wearing, along with links to buy. It feels natural, rather than forced.

Wavering Stripes

This a beautifully made site highlighting the experiences of people held in immigration detention centers in the US. The illustrations belie the grimness of the stories told — on the landing page there is a warning as to the nature of the content.

Juan Mora

Proof that holding pages don’t have to be boring, this ‘under construction’ site for interface designer Juan Mora is a far cry from the warning-barrier and stick-figures-at-work gifs of the web’s early days.

Cafecrema

Cafecrema’s simple, one page site creates the atmosphere of 1950s coffee shops through its illustration style, a jazz soundtrack, and a very mid-century modern color palette.

A N Other

Perfume brand A. N Other prioritises quality ingredients and materials, simplicity, craftsmanship, and the environment. Its website captures this perfectly, and invokes a sense of luxury as the result.

Puddle Sound

Puddle is an architectural and interior design company, who also do product and furniture design. For a Tokyo hotel project they created a vacuum tube amplifier, that is the subject of this site. It is as simple as can be with only the barest essential information, and with all attention focused on the product shots.

Hous

Hous Luxe Woningen are a Dutch company who build luxury homes. The high quality images, muted color scheme and generous use of white space in its website reflects this sense of luxury perfectly.

Who Cares?

Who Cares? is an interactive game designed to raise public awareness of endangered animal species. The illustration style is very pleasing, and there are some lovely little details in the animation and sound.

Ugly

This site for sparkling water company Ugly, uses bold, cartoonish typography and illustrated characters to add a lot of character to, well, water.

Glyphs

Glyphs font editor version 3 was released on 16th November. The accompanying site has a fresh feel, mainly due to its striking color scheme. The on scroll animation showcasing variable fonts is a nice touch.

Ruler Agency

Ruler Digital Agency uses color only in the images of work on its own site. Everything else is grayscale, even the images, which can be a really effective technique when it is used well, as it is here.

Zoë Pepper

Zoë Pepper is a collective of freelance brand strategists who work with early stage startups. The site is minimal without feeling empty, and utilises quirky illustration and scrolling animation to good effect.

Karst

Karst make notebooks using paper made from stone, and woodless pencils. Its site has a simple, clean feel with a muted, neutral color scheme that complements the colors of its notebook covers.

London Alley

London Alley is a production company who concentrate on music videos and advertising. Its site is simple and striking with plenty of video, and effective use of split screen.

LoveSeen

LoveSeen makes false eyelashes, and nothing else. The site has a fun, inclusive feel — more girl(and boy)friends together than glossy, high fashion magazine. It’s appealing and persuasive.

Chartogne-Taillet

This site for wine-growers Chartogne-Taillet uses illustration and an animated, ‘hand’ drawn map to create a sense of heritage, appropriate for a family with a long history of making wine in the Champagne region. It is reminiscent of a label on a good bottle of wine.

Refusi Studio

Refusi Studio is a design agency from Italy. This portfolio site is simple, with strong colors and big, statement typography. And a giant cartoon eye.

Yesterday, Today, Tomorrow

Yesterday, Today, Tomorrow is an interactive project from the National Film Board of Canada. It uses tweets to trace emotional ‘waves’ throughout the Covid-19 pandemic.

Boost

Boost is a gummy (chew) vitamin supplement for the immune system. Big type, big graphics and lots of orange and purple — the colors associated with vitamin C and antioxidants — make vitamins cool.

Philiber

Philiber is a meal delivery subscription service, available in urban centers in Quebec. The site is clean and modern, with a comforting color scheme and a nice mix of photography and flat style illustrations.

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Source de l’article sur Webdesignerdepot

Top New CMS Plugins, November 2020

Since there are so many CMS plugins out there, it can be overwhelming to choose the best ones for your website. We’ve done the research for you; this list contains the top new CMS plugins for November 2020. You’ll find useful plugins for WordPress, Craft, Shopify, and Joomla.

Let’s get started…

WordPress

404 Page Editor

404 Page Editor is a simple WordPress plugin that helps you add custom text to the default 404 page on your website. The plugin comes with seasonal and industry-related 404 templates. One useful feature of the plugin is that it backups your current 404 page before changing it. So you can restore the backup page anytime you choose. The plugin duplicates your current 404.php page to wp-content/uploads/404-page-editor/ so you can easily find it. You can also change the text on the plugin to fit your local dialect. 

UnusedCSS Power-Up

Most WordPress themes and plugins load their CSS in the wrong areas of your website. This can slow down your site. A slow website will reduce user experience and lead to increased bounce rates.

UnusedCSS will help reduce the size of your website’s CSS files by up to 95%. The best part is that the plugin works automatically. It will remove any unused CSS when visitors view any page on your website. UnusedCSS will automatically reduce your website’s load times by reducing your CSS files and page size. The plugin also optimizes the performance of other WordPress plugins and extensions. UnusedCSS also works with WooCommerce themes and plugins.

Simple Redirects

Simple Redirects is a WordPress plugin that helps you to automatically redirect requests to another page on your site or any other place on the web. The plugin allows you to easily redirect users from your old web pages to new pages using 301 or 302 redirects. You don’t have to worry about losing backlinks or page rank. Any incoming links to the old web page will be automatically passed along to the new page. The page rank on the old page is also transferred to the new page. The plugin is useful when migrating a WordPress site when don’t want to retain the URL structure. 

HTML Validation

HTML Validation plugin helps you identify any HTML validation errors on your website. The plugin works automatically in the background of your website and will send you regular reports. There is a progress bar on the report screen to show you the progress of the scan. The plugin uses WordPress Cron to scan the content of your website. There is also an option for the plugin to automatically fix any HTML validation issues on your website. You can also choose to fix the issues manually. 

Just Highlight

Just Highlight is a simple WordPress plugin that helps you highlight text in your posts or pages. You can use this plugin to highlight any portion of the page you want to draw the reader’s attention to. You can highlight the background of the page and also add animation to the highlighted text. In the WordPress admin area, you can change the speed and color of the animation. The plugin is compatible with Gutenberg, and the WordPress classic editor. 

DeviantArt Embed

DeviantArt Embed is a simple plugin that helps you embed any work from Deviant Art into a post. The plugin provides a block for the WordPress block editor so you can easily embed the image. It uses a DeviantArt oEmbed API to pull the images and their descriptions, and creates an embedded image. 

Static Optimizer

Static Optimizer is a static file optimization plugin that serves and optimizes static files on your website. The plugin will help you increase your website speed by automatically compressing your static files. It is easy to set up, you just need an API key to get started. Other useful features that the plugin offers include automatic JS and CSS minification, automatic image optimization, and processing of responsive images. You don’t have to worry about losing your files if their server is down. The plugin automatically backs up your files and will load your original files when their servers are down (either because of an upgrade, maintenance, or outage).  By default, only images are compressed when you activate the plugin; you can also choose to optimize fonts, CSS, and JS files. 

RankBear

RankBear is a keyword rank tracker plugin that helps you analyze your SEO efforts. With RankBear, you can track the keywords for each of the posts and pages on your site. While the plugin has a paid plan, you can track up to five keywords for free. On the free plan, you will receive weekly reports on each keyword you are tracking. You can search for the rank and volume of a keyword in every location supported by the Google search engine. RankBear is a lightweight software-as-a-service plugin hosted by Amazon Cloud Services. The plugin also offers the option to download the keyword reports to CSV. 

Table of Contents Block

Table of Contents Block is a plugin that allows you to easily create a Table of Contents for your WordPress posts. The plugin is lightweight and will automatically add a Table of Content in your website’s posts and pages. You can select the heading tags you want to add to the Table of Content. It also has a dedicated support team to assist you. The plugin works fine with all standard WordPress themes. 

Markease For WooCommerce

Markeaze is an all-in-one communication plugin that allows you to add live chat to your online stores. The plugin will help you improve your customer service by decreasing your response times. With the plugin, you can collect your visitor’s contact information via a widget. This feature is useful in building a subscriber database. You can also use the plugin to track customer behavior on your site, inform customers about new products, help customers with active orders, and collect customer feedback. You can also use the auto-reply function to answer commonly asked questions. 

Craft CMS

Image Toolbox

Image Toolbox is a Craft CMS plugin that offers image-related tools for your templates. The plugin will automatically create a WebP variant of the images you upload. It also has a fallback for browsers that do not support WebP images. Other useful features the plugin offers include automatic creation of placeholder images and generation of responsive images with multiple variants. The plugin also supports Imager-X (or old Imager). 

Element Panel

Element Panel plugin allows you to add elements and an eager-loading panel to the debug toolbar. This feature will help you benchmark your templates in Craft CMS. For elements, the panel has a dashboard that shows how many elements are populated. It also shows how many elements are duplicates. The plugin also shows you how many eager-loading elements are detected. Duplicate elements are grouped by field name. 

Shopify 

VStore Shoppable Videos

VStore Shoppable Videos is a Shopify plugin that allows your customers to shop directly from your videos. The plugin allows you to embed your products into any video. Since videos have a high engagement rate, this plugin will significantly improve your store’s conversion rates. 

ProofMotion Video Testimonials

ProofMotion Video Testimonials plugin helps you to easily collect video testimonials. The plugin sends an automated email or SMS requests to customers asking for their satisfaction feedback after making a purchase. The responses are analyzed to determine whether the customer had a negative or positive experience. Customers that offer negative feedback are sent to customer care to help them with the problem they encountered. Happy customers are prompted to make video testimonials of their positive shopping experience. ProofMotion guides the customer through the interview so they can give the best testimonial. They also offer an on-site widget so you can easily share your testimonials. 

Real ID

Real ID is a Shopify plugin that allows you to verify customers’ real identity using a photo ID and facial biometrics. The plugin is perfect for orders that have an age restriction, verifying flagged fraud goods, and selling expensive goods. Real ID will help you identify whether a government-issued-ID is fake during fulfilment. All the customer needs to do is take a selfie on their phone. This way, even if a customer has access to a stolen physical ID, they won’t still be able to make any purchase. The plugin can verify documents such as passports, visas, national IDs, driver licenses, and more. Real ID will help you handle GDPR compliance. The plugin is available in hundreds of countries around the world. 

Joomla

Accessibility

Accessibility is a Joomla plugin that allows your website visitors to easily access your website content. The plugin will remove any barrier between the visitor and your Joomla site. There is no coding required and you can customize the plugin directly from the module manager. The plugin has a useful feature called Dyslexic Readability; this feature allows your visitors to set the entire document font to a dyslexic-friendly font. Visitors can also grayscale the page, resize the fonts, and resize the word space. From the backend module, you can add any custom CSS and JS. The plugin is also available in 12 different languages. 

Reading Time

Reading Time is a simple plugin that will help you easily show the reading time of your Joomla articles. The plugin is easy to set up and does not require any coding. You can customize every parameter, including the text, in minutes. You can also choose to exclude categories, articles, and menu items. Reading Time also allows you to easily add custom CSS code from the plugin parameters. 

 

Featured image via Pexels.

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Source de l’article sur Webdesignerdepot

How to Design a Contact Page That Drives Engagement

How can your customer reach you? If a client arrives on your website after searching on Google, what can they do to take the next step in a relationship with your brand, without buying anything?

One of the primary aims of any website is to drive conversions. However, it usually takes between 5 and 8 touchpoints to generate a viable sales lead. People don’t want to convert straight away.

Since building a relationship with customers is crucial to success, it makes sense that the contact page would be an essential part of driving results. Unfortunately, a lot of website owners pay virtually no attention to that page. They ask their designer to create a page with their address and phone number on – and that’s it.

What many business owners don’t realize, is that the contact page is the door to deeper, more lucrative relationships with potential prospects. The design of this essential website element needs to be fantastic to drive results.

So, where do you start?

Defining a Well-Designed Contact Page

Let’s start with the basics, what makes a great contact page?

The complete answer to that question depends on the target audience. Some customers will want to see fun and friendly contact pages, complete with social media sharing buttons. Others will want to see a map that shows them exactly how to reach an office or business.

There are a few golden rules to keep in mind, of course. Contact pages should be:

  • Easy to find: Don’t hide the link to the contact page on the website footer. Make it easy for customers to find out how they can get in touch.
  • Simple: Don’t put too much content on this page or it will overwhelm your audience. Just let them know where they can go to get answers to various questions.
  • Professional: Even if you have a friendly brand personality, your contact form still needs to be grammatically correct and well-designed to show a professional edge.
  • Convenient: Make your phone number clickable so customers can use it on Skype. The same can apply for your email address. Provide easy access to social media profiles, and if you have a contact form – keep it short and sweet.
  • Informative: Include all of your contact information in the same place. This may include your address, a map to your location, social media pages, email addresses, and even forums.
  • Accurate: Ensure that the information on your contact page matches the information listed elsewhere. Check directories and Google my Business listings to be sure.
  • Attractive: Yes, a contact page needs to look good too. Plenty of white space will make essential information stand out. A good layout will guide the eye through the page.
  • Consistent: Make sure the contact form on your website matches the brand personality that appears on all of your other pages.

Take a look at the Tune Contact page:

It’s beautifully laid out, with clear information that’s easy to read. The company shows exactly why customers might want to get in touch and how they can reach out. As you scroll through the page, you’ll find additional office locations, email addresses for different teams (sales and support), and links to social media accounts too.

How to Drive Engagement on a Contact Us Page

A good contact page needs to look fantastic, showcase the company’s personality, and capture audience attention. However, there’s a big difference between a contact page that gets the job done, and one that convinces your audience they have to connect with you.

Here are some excellent ways to make your contact us page stand out.

Step 1: Using Color Correctly

Color and color psychology have a massive impact on user experience.

Studies constantly demonstrate the conversion powers of having the right shades on certain pages throughout your website. For instance, changing a CTA button from red to green can increase click-through rates by 27%.

However, every audience is different. The colors that drive engagement on a contact page for your company will depend on your target customer. A/B testing color palettes that match your brand personality is a good way to get started.

One interesting example of colors that make the right impact on a Contact Us page comes from Hubspot. Here, the brand maintains it’s brand color (orange), but it also introduces some new shades that convey trustworthiness and professionalism.

Blue is the most calming and credible color for any brand, The gradient that Hubspot uses here blends perfectly with its brand identity, allowing for a stunning contact page, with CTA buttons that still stand out.

Experiment with colors that can generate the right emotional response from your audience, but don’t ignore the golden rules of color in web design. You still need to showcase your brand identity, and you still need a way of making crucial information stand out.

Step 2: Humanizing the Customer Service Team

Some of the customers that arrive at a contact page are interested in your product or inspired by the potential of your service. Other customers will be looking for assistance because they’re frustrated with something or stressed out.

If you’ve ever had a problem with a product and wanted to reach out to the brand about it, you’ve probably noticed how annoying it is to find a blank contact page with nothing but an email address. The lack of effort and humanity in the contact page is enough to convince you that you probably won’t get a response.

But what if you add some happy smiling faces to the page?

Research indicates that brains are fine-tuned to recognize and appreciate human faces. Having a picture of your customer service team, or just any human being on your contact page makes you instantly more approachable. Your customers start to feel like they’re reaching out to a person – not an empty website.

Look at how engaging and personalized this contact page from Amber McCue looks:

Although you can show any human face on your contact page and potentially get results, showing your actual agents will be more likely to drive positive results. It’s a great way to showcase the authenticity and humanity of your team.

Step 3: Making it Easy to Find

A surprisingly large amount of the time, companies shove their contact information into the footer of their website, forcing customers to spend forever looking for them. However, your audience might not want to spend an age searching for your details if they’re in a hurry to get answers.

Stowing a contact page in a footer is also a problem for those visiting your website via mobile, as they might not be able to see all your footer details and links as well.

A Contact Us page doesn’t have to be a massive part of your website navigation if you don’t want it to be. However, it should be one of the first things your audience can see. Putting the information on the header of your website, or even sticking it to the top of the page as your users scroll is very helpful.

Zendesk makes it easy for customers to get in touch in multiple ways. First, the Contact section of the website is clear at the top of the page. Secondly, if you start scrolling through the Zendesk website, a “Get Help” button pops up, so you don’t have to scroll back to find assistance:

Remember, aside from making sure that your contact page appears in the right part of your website, it’s also worth ensuring that it’s easy to understand. Don’t use unusual terms like “Chat”, or “Chill with us”. Stick to tried-and-true options like Help, Contact, or Support.

Step 4: Making the Experience Relevant

There’s a reason why it’s practically impossible to find a one-size-fits-all contact page.

It’s because different customers need different things from your brand.

Some customers will be looking for the answer to a question; others will want to discuss something with your sales team. That’s why many companies are using adaptive contact pages that can change to suit the situation.

For instance, you may start by asking customers what they need help with. Zapier takes this approach with its Contact page:

By asking the client what they need straight away, Zapier can make sure that the visitor finds the right information, and the right number or email address for the appropriate agent. You can even scroll down the help page and look for something in the available help centre, using the search bar. Or you can click on View our experts to hire a Zapier pro.

Creating a dynamic and customized experience like this does a few things. First, it ensures that the customer will reach the right person to help them first-time around. This reduces the number of inappropriate calls your employees have to deal with, and the number of transfers.

Secondly, you deliver a better experience overall for your client, because they don’t have to repeat their issue to multiple people or start a massive email thread. They get the support they need immediately.

Dynamic contact pages can even save you some money and time. If clients decide to solve an issue themselves, using your resources, that’s great for your busy agents.

Step 5: Direct People to the Right Place

The central focus of your contact us page needs to be the available contact options. Centralizing the contact options on a page is an excellent way to make sure that they get the right amount of attention. Centralizing also means that your customers can spend less time searching for the contact details that they need, which is great for usability.

The Melonfree.com website uses a contact us form that’s centralized to immediately pull attention to the customer’s options for getting help.

Centralization isn’t the only way of using design principles to guide visitors on a contact page. According to Ray Hyman and Edmund Hick, increasing the number of choices on a page often increases the time it takes for people to make a decision.

When it comes to connecting with a brand, the right option for each customer will depend on the person and the situation they’re trying to overcome. For instance, a customer that needs to reset their password will probably be able to get the solution they need from an FAQ page.

On the other hand, someone who needs help using a new feature might need the guidance of a professional. To help guide customers to the right solution, Basecamp gives customers a variety of steps to follow to get the right solution fast.

The main purpose of the contact page is to help customers get the right answer with an informative form. However, there are unobtrusive alternative options available too. If all you’re looking for is a way to help yourself fix a problem, you can click on the help guides link before you ever scroll down to the form.

Step 6: Support the Contact Team Too

The best contact us pages aren’t just a great way to improve customer experience. Well-designed solutions also help the customer service team to save time and stay productive.

One of the primary metrics that companies consider when evaluating the success of a service team, is the number of replies required before an issue is resolved. However, if the initial question from a customer doesn’t contain enough information, this number often increases.

Using the design of the contact form to access the right information helps with:

  • Automatically routing people to the right team member: Companies can set up segmentation rules that automatically send certain emails to different employees based on keywords. You might have questions that go to the sales team, and separate queries that you direct straight to the customer service team.
  • Show appropriate support options and FAQs: Remember to give the audience a chance to help themselves before they reach out for extra support. Links to an FAQ page or self-service options can really reduce the pressure on a team. Some companies even add automated chatbots to the mix to help with self-service.
  • Prompt for extra context: Although not every customer will take advantage of an opportunity to add extra information to a form, some will. Adding a box to your contact form for “anything we need to know?” is a great way to generate more information. Ban.do includes a simple “question” box where customers can add as much detail as they like. An option to add screen shots or documents might be a nice touch too.

Building Your Own Contact Us Page

Every customer has their own specific set of needs. The right contact page for another business might not be the right one for you. That’s why it’s so important to take some time getting to know your customers and speaking to your support team.

When you’re planning your contact page, it helps to ask yourself some basic questions about what you want to achieve. For instance:

  • What kind of channels will our customers want to use to connect with us? Look at things like social media messaging, email, or phone calls. If you’ve got a relatively tech-savvy audience, then they might want to use things like instant messaging with chat bots too.
  • How can we direct clients to the appropriate channels in as little time as possible? Having a system in place to automatically route your customers to the right agent will reduce the time to resolution for your customers. The faster you solve problems, the better your reputation becomes.
  • What can we do to set customer expectations and build confidence before they speak to us? Designing a professional-looking contact page will increase customer confidence, while an FAQ section shows that you’re ready to answer common questions.
  • How can we showcase a unique brand personality without making the page complicated? Everything from using distinct brand colors on a contact page, to adding images and illustrations reminds customers that they’re in the right place.
  • What can we do to reduce the friction points in a customer’s path to contact? Avoid adding too many input options to a contact form and ensure that it’s easy to reach out when your clients have a problem.

Understanding exactly what your audience needs from you, and what they’re looking for when they come to your team for help reduces the effort involved for your client when they reach out for help. Remember, today’s digitally-savvy customers expect their interactions with companies to be as streamlined and simple as possible.

Make the Most of Your Contact Page

Contact pages are frequently an afterthought in the website design process. However, they’re one of the most valuable tools your company has. With a good contact page, you ensure that your customers can always reach you when they have problems. What’s more, you boost your chances of people wanting to reach out to the sales team too!

Good luck creating a contact page that encourages engagement from your target audience. Don’t forget to track your results from each design, and A/B test for optimization.

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9 Ways To Boost Your Domain Authority

Domain Authority (DA) is a ranking metric that predicts how well a site will rank online. It goes by a scale of 1 to 100 — the closer you are to 100, the better your odds of ranking in search engine result pages (SERPs), thus giving you more clicks.

To see how your site currently ranks, visit Moz’s free Link Explorer to test your DA. Just type your website URL in the search bar and click “Analyze”. Just remember: don’t kick yourself if your DA is smaller than 30 to 50. If you follow these 9 tips today, you’ll most definitely see your DA score improve.

1. Domain Name Age

You know that old saying, right? Wisdom comes with age. Well, guess what? The same is true for your domain name. If your domain name doesn’t have an ‘old’ age, then it’ll rank lower, and users online might not see your site as legitimate.

But with an older domain name, not only will users see your site as more legitimate, but it’ll also have a much higher DA score than younger domain names. In other words, every time you change your domain, you might be doing more harm than good to it, since you’re actually knocking down the credibility you’ve built up over the years by starting from scratch.

Therefore, pick an easy-to-remember domain name that’s not only relevant to your niche, but it’s also something that you’re willing to keep for a very long time.

2. On-Page Optimization

Then, it’s time to optimize all the following on your pages:

  • Code;
  • Content;
  • Site structure;
  • Metatags;
  • Other on-page elements (H1, Title tags, Image alt tag, Site architecture, etc.).

Improving your DA with optimization can make your site be more search-engine-friendly.

3. Create Great Content

Want to attract high-quality links from multiple domains in your niche? Good news! More attraction to your site comes from creating high-quality content that appeals to your target audience. Otherwise, poor-quality content will only scare people away.

So, in providing the best content possible, that will definitely help you improve your DA score (and even give you many additional SEO benefits).

4. Internal Link Improvement

Why worry about earning external links when your internal links need the most attention? Yes, focusing too much on external links can make you lose sight of linking internally.

So, why internal links? These links help nudge visitors to what they’re trying to look for on your website. In that way, visitors are getting the best user experience, while you reap the rewards of having an increased DA score.

5. Link Profile Clean-Up

Having a clean link profile is essential, since it helps you obtain and maintain a great DA score. So, to clean up your link profile, you must remove the bad links from it.

In this process, you can use tools like:

These tools help you figure out any inappropriate or unwanted links.

After the link audit is complete, contact the website owners to have them either delete the link or add the “nofollow tag” (devalues the link). If this doesn’t work, use the Google Disavow tool to remove said links from your profile.

6. Know Your Niche

When running a site, it’s important for you to be the expert in what you have to offer online – and your DA is no exception to this. Becoming an authoritative figure in your niche allows you to gain the confidence of readers, while providing expert advice to the community.

If you have amazing content (i.e. guest blogs on industry-related forums) and clever ways to engage your target audience, then people will see you as an authority to your niche. This not only enhances your brand, but also increases your DA score.

7. Be Mobile-Friendly

Nowadays, people are on their phones, tablets, etc. Whatever device that they can use on the go, they’ll use. In other words, mobile isn’t just the way of the future – it’s happening right now, outpacing laptops since 2014. So, if your website isn’t mobile-friendly yet, then now is the time to fix that!

If your website hasn’t been optimized for mobile use yet, not only will it hurt your search rankings (since Google favors mobile-friendly sites), but you’ll also lose out on users visiting your site to begin with.

So, go to Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test, and then run a test for your domain. Afterwards, Google will give you a detailed report of how mobile-friendly your site is, and what you can do to improve it.

8. Improve Page Speed

Let’s face it: No one likes to wait for a webpage to load; they want quick results. So, if your site isn’t loading fast enough, then users will get frustrated and most likely go to another site. So, why not improve your page speed?

First, find the cause of your website running slower than it should. You can do this by running your website through Google’s PageSpeed Insights; it’ll analyze the speed of your site. And then, it will identify some effective ways for you to make your site faster and consequently improve your DA score.

9. Utilize Social Media

Finally, it’s important to increase your social signals, when it comes to gaining more authority with your domain. While search engines like Google won’t insist that sites make social signals a priority to increase their rankings, site runners must still take advantage of social media to do the following:

  • Promote their sites;
  • Promote their products and services;
  • Tell people about any events and contests.

As a result, sites are more likely to get likes, shares, and tweets through social media, versus going solo in search engines.

Conclusion

Domain authority is extremely important for your site. First, DA allows you to analyze how well your website does in the search space. Plus, it allows you to compare the performance of your website with that of your rival sites, thus showing you where you stand in search engine results.

So, why not get your site thriving today by improving and maintaining your DA score today? Your site will thank you for it!

 

Featured image via Unsplash.

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You Won’t Win SEO With Hacks, Here Are 3 Winning SEO Strategies

The world of search engine optimization was born with all sorts of different hacks and shortcuts that many people use in an effort to grow their business.

Knowing effective SEO tricks would be incredibly profitable, but unfortunately it’s not that easy

This becomes evident as soon as you do a Google search about anything SEO-related, only to find pages and more pages replete with blog posts and videos disclosing all the tips and tricks you “need to know” in order to achieve the best SEO results, in the fastest way possible.

Knowing effective SEO tricks would be incredibly profitable, but unfortunately it’s not that easy.

In its essence, SEO isn’t about hacks, shortcuts, and hidden optimizations, but rather about resource allocation. Keep reading to learn why!

Be Careful About Over-Reliance on Hacks

Before we start talking about resources, it’s important to understand why the quick and easy SEO hacks we’ve all read about online aren’t as reliable as they might seem.

The reality is that yes, there are some traditional hacks and optimization tactics that many people swear by. However, SEO has become way too competitive for these hacks to still work.

Think about it: anyone can learn about these hacks and shortcuts in a matter of seconds, which means that anyone can use them, which means that they’re not going to help your website stand out. By way of example, when thinking about keyword usage, many websites simply decide to put them everywhere on their website, without actually planning and strategizing. Perhaps years ago, doing so would lead to excellent results, but that’s not the case anymore.

What I want to go over, and what I mean with this article, is that when developing your SEO plan, you should think less about hacks, and try to focus on strategy and resources instead.

As tempting as they might be, most SEO hacks won’t really go that far.

What does go far are those strategies and resource allocation decisions, which you can master as long as you know three things:

  • Who your competitors are;
  • What you have;
  • and What strengths you can double down on.

Base Your SEO Strategies on Your Business’s Resources

So, SEO is about resource allocation – we know that now…but what exactly does that mean?

Well, this logic is based on something you might have heard of before, and that is the three pillars of SEO.

As a refresher, everything in SEO revolves around three pillars:

  • Link building and referring domains;
  • Content development and content marketing;
  • Technical SEO.

Many businesses have a limited digital marketing budget and, as if that wasn’t enough, their SEO budget tends to be even more restricted.

This means that we can’t try every hack out there or do every campaign we can come up with, hoping it will lead to positive results. On the contrary, it means we need to be methodical and understand which strategies have the most potential and are actually worth exploring.

In summary, there’s one big challenge that every SEO team and company experiences, and that is the limitation of resources versus possible operations, and that leads us to a question: what mix of SEO pillars will give us a good shot at ranking high and surpassing our competitors?

Develop Your SEO Strategies Based on Your Inherent Strengths

The mistake that a lot of business owners make after reading SEO articles or hearing about amazing case studies is that they try and copy the strategies they learned about, from beginning to end.

However, contextually, each case study or article could refer to a strategy that was specifically optimized for a different type of business.

So, although copying what other successful businesses can work in certain situations when speaking about SEO, it’s best to borrow ideas and use the ones that fit your inherent strengths.

Based on the pillars of SEO that we discussed earlier, there are three strong points that a company can have:

If You Have a Strong Network…

Some businesses don’t have the resources to create an in-house content development team or outsource writing services.

However, they have another strong suit, which lies in their ability to go out into their community, speak, and be heard. They can do this because they have built a strong network over the years and, in cases like this, what we often do is use a backlinking approach.

When working with businesses that have a strong community presence, go out and double down on their network. Pitch their relevant contacts for guest speakership and guest posts, building thought leadership, while also driving links to their website.

If You’re Not That Popular But Are Good With Words…

Right now, some of you might be thinking: “Yeah, well, that’s easy when you’ve built the exposure, but not all of us are lucky enough to be well-known”.

Listen, I get it, we’ve all been in that position.

For clients and businesses that feel like they don’t have the brand equity or exposure to develop a strong backlinking strategy, opt for another route, and invest much more on content (and/or technical SEO, see below).

If the client has a team who’s ready to put its head down and get to work, then focus on producing a lot of content for their website.

Ultimately, the goal is to build a content library that is thorough and expansive, and that provides the client with more opportunities for keyword rankings, while also reinforcing the relevance of their website for those specific SEO keywords.

If Technical Knowledge is Your Forte…

You may not like (or have time) to write and you may not have a strong community presence, but if you have advanced technical skills and the ability to create a strong website quickly, then there’s another approach you can take.

This leads us into the third pillar of SEO: technical SEO.

This solution is indicated for technical teams that can create large websites, databases and user experiences in no time, and it is typically adopted by tech startups that are trying to create an app that provides user value.

First and foremost, winning at technical SEO requires strong technical skills that will allow you to build the web assets that you need, but that’s not all. It also requires you to understand how you can double down on these skills and manage large websites in the rather complex Google ecosystem.

So you need, for example, to know how you can get Google to notice and properly index the new pages you create on your website, even if you already have 100,000 pre-existing pages.

Or to ensure that each of your new pages is properly optimized for the best keywords.

Needless to say, using technical SEO does become a complex operation. However, when done right, it can lead your SEO to grow by sheer size, with the hopes that certain relevant keywords will start to rank for your business naturally.

Conclusion: Your Strategy Will Probably Be a Combination of the Three Pillars

When it comes to SEO, honing in on your strengths and accepting the fact that you can’t do everything is definitely the way to go.

When you’re running an SEO campaign, you should always focus on what you’re good at, know your resources, and augment what you already master – and that will put you in the right direction.

By focusing your resources on any of the pillars of SEO (or even a mix of them), you substantially increase your chances of achieving long-term success, which will not happen if you go for hacks and shortcuts instead.

A long-term, highly-organized, resource-allocated SEO strategy won’t only guarantee continuous success, but it can ultimately become self-sustaining, meaning that it will allow you to keep growing and growing, becoming an organic part of your marketing plan.

I’ve seen a lot of people try SEO hacks for two weeks, only to realize that they didn’t work and that their efforts had been in vain. 

It’s unfortunate because by doing so, you’re turning your back on a marketing channel that is very valuable to a lot of people, and these hacks trick people into thinking it’ll be overnight.

So remember, resource allocation over hacks and shortcuts!

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20 Freshest Web Designs, October 2020

We have become so used to using web sites just to buy stuff that it is easy to forget that the web has more to offer. So this month we’ve included some because-it’s-interesting sites, some micro-sites and some just-for-the-sake-of-it projects.

Many of these are about selling or promoting products and services too, but in a more oblique way that is frequently more engaging than a straightforward sales site.

Micro sites can be a great way of including content that doesn’t fit in neatly with the rest of the main site, or is temporary, or to show a lighter, more fun side of a brand. And a well thought out micro site can act as a gateway to pull in even more visitors to its ‘parent’ site.

Your World Your Way

Your World Your Way is an interactive portal for the University of Auckland. An optional questionnaire customizes the experience, and clearly a lot of effort has gone into this in terms of the questions and possible answers, and the presentation. It is engaging and enjoyable to use, and the information provides links to the main University of Auckland website.

Blind Barber

This micro site is to celebrate 10 years of barber shop chain Blind Barber, which started as one shop with a bar in the back room, in New York’s East Village. An entirely black and white design provides a clean backdrop for color photos and videos, and some great scrolling animations give a pleasing flow to the content.

Brews & Grooves

Brews & Grooves pairs records with different beer. Although a ‘fun’ project, it is still a well designed piece of work with some vintage style typography and some pleasing rollover animation effects. It is an effective advert for those involved in creating it, as listed in on its ‘credits’ page.

Gucci Bloom

As part of a new campaign to promote it’s ‘Bloom’ perfumes, Gucci have created a Gucci Bloom game. The player has to pick up flowers and perfume bottles, but miss a flower and the vines get in your way.

808303Studio

808303Studio is a digital musical instrument that emulates a Roland TR-808 drum machine and TB-303 bass synthesizer, created in conjunction with the Design Museum (London). It’s fully programmable and there is even short video tutorial with A Guy Called Gerald on how to use it.

Aelfie

Aelfie is a home furnishings brand with a focus on bold patterns and bright color. Their site reflects this with its use of block color, irregular grid, drawings, and type that feels a little off-kilter. It creates a hand-made feel that embodies the brand aesthetic rather well.

Media Election 2020

As we approach one of the most significant, not to mention acrimonious, elections in US history, Media Election 2020 uses AI to analyze the volume of media attention each candidate receives, in real time.

Curbed

Magazine website Curbed has now become a part of New York magazine, and had a redesign in the process. It follows a discernible grid, but distorts it just enough to create an edge. The highlighter color frames, and underlines on rollover, add movement and ‘cool’.

WFN

The WFN (Women’s Funding Network) is an alliance of funds and foundations working to promote gender equity and social change internationally. The site is clean, with strong typography and a sophisticated color palette.

The Fabric of America

Internet, telephone and TV service provider Xfinity is behind the Fabric of America project. It is a collection of voice recordings, the idea being that each voice, and each person’s story, is a thread that makes up the flag that we see on the screen.

Minimal Ceramics

Minimal Ceramics is a concept site, showcasing the work of London based potter, Tom Crew. The design of the site reflects the simplicity of the showcased work, using great photography and simple typography.

Normal Now

Normal Now is part of an awareness campaign to highlight to consumers the positives of electric cars. Taking a fun approach to engage consumers in a serious subject, it uses a fake retro tech style.

Superfood Gin 

Superfood Gin is a gin made using superfood botanicals, that claims to be fruity and fresh rather than crisp and peppery. The soft color palette, along with the soft lines and curves in the background illustrations, reflect this well.

Maison Louis Marie

Maison Louis Marie is a natural fragrance company. While this site does nothing really groundbreaking, it does it well. Botanical drawings on a white background, along with clean typography, help create a refined, luxury feel.

Think Economia

Think Economia is a platform taking a fresh look at economics and the future of economic growth. It doesn’t sound like the most exciting subject, but it is presented here in a playful and intriguing way.

Chernobyl

From Uprock, a Russian design studio that also offers courses in web design, Chernobyl is a thought provoking exposition of the Chernobyl disaster. The design aesthetic is muted, allowing the images their deserved impact, and the brief sections of text to be absorbed.

Declamatuus

Declamatuus is a lingerie company selling gift sets. What stands out here is what you don’t see — live models in underwear. Instead the outline of the body is created with animated particles.

Odisea

Odisea Expedition is a documentary series following two friends, a surfer and a snowboarder, as they explore remote parts of the world. The photographs and video are everything here, and all other elements are kept minimal to avoid detracting from them.

Riffyn

Riffyn Nexus is a ‘Process Data System’ for storing and analyzing scientific data for laboratories. It is a very corporate site and yet it is put together in such a way that doesn’t feel dull.

Maison du Net

This site for digital design agency Maison du Net takes a risk mixing corporate with cutesy, but it works. Offset frames and underlines create interest without overdoing it, and the very bright green is used sparingly enough to liven things up without being overwhelming.

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Top New CMS Plugins, October 2020

Plugins offer a ton of benefits to developers and website administrators; from flexibility, to saving time in development, the right plugin is priceless to a project.

In this article, we’ll cover a list of the best new plugins for October 2020. You’ll find useful plugins for WordPress, Craft, Shopify, and Joomla.

Let’s get started.

WordPress

Sticky Post Expire

Sticky Post Expire is a simple plugin for WordPress that allows you to add an expiration date to your sticky posts. When the expiration date you set on a post expires, the post will automatically no longer be sticky. All you need to do is install/enable the plugin and a meta checkbox will appear in your posts admin area. It’s in this checkbox you will set the post’s expiration date.

Product page shipping calculator for WooCommerce

The Product Page Shipping Calculator plugin allows your customers to calculate the cost of shipping before adding the product to their cart. The plugin also allows customers to see the available shipping methods for their area. If the product cannot be shipped to the customer’s location, the plugin will notify the customer. All calculations are done using Ajax, so you don’t have to worry about the plugin slowing down your site.

Payment Page

Payment Page makes it easy to collect payments on your WordPress website. The plugin allows you to connect to any payment gateway platform of choice. You can also receive one-time or recurring payments using Payment Page. The plugin comes with beautifully designed templates that you can customize to fit your brand and style. The form builder helps you increase your sales and conversions. You can collect payment in any currency. After payment, customers will also receive a confirmation message.

WP Roadmap

Wp Roadmap is a product feedback board for WordPress. The plugins allow you to display your company’s product roadmap on your WordPress website or blog. The plugin will display your new products, business developments, upcoming events, achievements, awards, and future projects on your site. WP Roadmap also gives you the option to collect and create feedback boards. The plugin comes with an intuitive interface and works with any WordPress theme.

LiveSession

LiveSession is a session replay plugin for WordPress. The plugin allows you to record everything happening on your site, including clicks, scrolls, and mouse movements. This plugin helps you understand how your visitors interact with your website. You can rewatch the videos as many times as you like. Instead of recording every single visitor on your site, LiveSession will record visitors with a high engagement score.

The plugin also comes with a feature called Rage Clicks. This feature helps you identify when visitors encounter Javascript errors. The plugin also has a beta feature called Clickmap. It helps you identify the specific elements on your site that visitors clicked and how many times. There is also a heatmap feature that identifies which pages on your site get the most interaction. The plugin is very useful in improving your user experience (UX) and conversion rates. It easily integrates with Google Analytics, Segment, Intercom, LiveChat, HelpScout, Olark, Wix, Shopify, and WooCommerce.

Auction Feed

Auction Feed makes it easy to display eBay items on your WordPress website. Visitors to your website will be able to search and buy products directly from your site. The plugin comes with a variety of styles to fit any WordPress theme. You can also add a product description above or below the product image. Customers won’t have to leave your website before making their purchases. The plugin is also free to use.

Floating Related Posts

Floating Related Posts is a WordPress plugin that allows you to display a banner with a list of related posts on your website. The banner can appear at the top or bottom of the web page. You can set the banner to pop up using a time filter or scroll trigger. The plugin is also compatible with Google Analytics. You can customize the banner background color, font size, button style, and text color. The plugin can be translated into any language.

Simple Restrict Content

The Simple Restrict Content plugin allows you to restrict the content that visitors can access on your WordPress site. You can choose who can access content on your website by setting up roles. The simple lightweight plugin restricts different content types, including, posts, web pages, and WooCommerce products. The plugin is available in Spanish and English.

Easy Video Publisher

Easy Video Publisher is a WordPress plugin that allows you to easily publish YouTube videos on your website. You can import YouTube videos from multiple channels. You can also schedule the YouTube videos to automatically upload to your website. Note that a YouTube API key is needed to import multiple videos at a time from a specific channel. The plugin allows you to use multiple API keys.

Preloader Awesome

Preloader Awesome is a preloader plugin for WordPress that allows you to create a page preloader interface while the rest of the webpage is still loading. Preloaders are interface elements that notify visitors that your website hasn’t crashed, just processing before serving content. Some of the features of the plugin include 14 page transition styles, progress bar, GIF support, 10+ default CSS loader, progress status counter, unlimited color, and counter font size options. The plugin is responsive and works on all modern browsers.

Menu Hover Effect

The Menu Hover Effect plugin allows you to add hover effects to the menu bar on your website. With this plugin, you don’t need to learn CSS. This plugin gives you 20 CSS menu hover options to choose from. It is a lightweight plugin and won’t affect your website speed.

Better Comments

The Better Comments plugin allows WordPress users to easily customize the comment section of their website. With the plugin, you can customize the look of your comment form fields, match the submit button with the colors of your site, and hide the comment’s date. The plugin also allows you to create a comment policy section. You can further customize the comment fields to highlight when they are selected and typed in. If you find rounded avatars common, the plugin also offers a hexagonal avatar option.

WP Pocket URLs

WP Pocket URLs is a handy WordPress Plugin that helps you manage your affiliate links. The plugin allows users to automatically shorten and track any affiliate link on their website. You can also manually shorten the links on your website. Each time a visitor clicks on a link you get access to information like click date/time, country, IP address, etc. You can also categorize your links and also create custom permalinks. There is also a dashboard widget that displays your top 10 links. On the “Reports” page, you can generate clicks reports. You can filter the reports by Month/Year, link category, country, and link title.

Craft CMS

Formie

Formie is a Craft CMS plugin that allows you to create user-friendly forms. The plugin comes with a drag and drop builder for creating forms. You can store user form submissions in your control panel in case you want to review them later. When a user submits a form, you will get an email notification. Formie also has an in-built keyword blocking feature to protect you from spam. The plugin has several integrationS: API for Elements, Address Providers, Captchas, CRM tools, Webhooks, and Email Marketing software. You can also create your custom integration. You can add over 25 fields to your forms using Formie.

Craftagram

Craftagram is a Craft CMS plugin for adding any Instagram feed to your website. Since the plugin uses the official Instagram API, you don’t have to worry about your website getting blacklisted. Craftagram also handles pagination for your Instagram feed. 

Shopify

We’re Open

We’re Open is a handy plugin for Shopify users. The plugin lets your customers know when you are open to receive new orders. Once your business hours are close, customers won’t be able to make new orders. A message will be displayed in your store that you are closed. The plugin ensures that you only receive orders when you are open. It works in any time zone and the API easily integrates with mobile apps.

Punch Metrics

Punch Metrics is a Shopify Plugin that helps you track your store’s visitors and also analyze their behavior. The plugin offers real-time data on your site’s visitors, the pages that see the most engagement, and which devices are the most popular. You can also record and replay visitors’ sessions so you can know exactly what they did on your site. Punch Metrics also has a heatmap tracking feature to understand which elements on your site get the most clicks.

Joomla

Simple Sliders

Simple Sliders is a content plugin for Joomla. The plugin allows users to easily create accordion sliders in their articles. You can add the sliders to your Joomla articles by adding this code:

{s​lider title="Slider 1 Title" class="blue"}
Slider 1 content.
{s​lider title="Slider 2 Title" class="red"}
Slider 2 content.
{/s​liders}

Jitsi Conferencing

Jitsi Conferencing is a video conferencing plugin for Joomla. The plugin will allow you to host meetings and easily connect with your clients. The module is simple and effective to use.

 

Featured image via Unsplash.

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The Ultimate 10 UX Influencers to Follow

The digital world is a place of constant change. Just as you get used to a new design trend, another one appears, forcing you to rethink the way that you approach each client project. 

As a web designer, it’s up to you to make sure that you have your finger on the pulse on the latest transformations in the industry. However, it can be challenging to know for sure which trends you should be taking seriously, and which you can simply ignore. 

One option to refine and enhance your design journey is to pay attention to influencers. 

Influencers aren’t just there to guide customers into making purchasing decisions. These people are thought-leaders in their field. They spend all of their time tracking down ideas and concepts that really work. That way, they can maintain a successful reputation online.

Sourcing information and motivation from the following UX influencers could help you to create some truly amazing websites in 2020: 

1. Andrew Kucheriavy 

Andrew Kucheriavy is the phenomenal co-founder and CEO of a company named Intechnic. Andrew was one of the first people in the world to be given the “Master in User Experience” award. This means that he’s an excellent person to pay attention to if you want help understanding the ins and outs of user experience design

As one of the leading visionaries in UX, business strategy, and inbound marketing, Andrew has a lot of useful information to offer professionals and learners alike. Andrew is particularly active on Twitter, where he’s constantly sharing insights on design and marketing. You can also find input from Andrew on the Intechnic blog. 

2. Jeff Veen 

Another must-follow for designers who want to learn more about understanding their audience and their position in the marketplace, Jeff Veen is a leader in UX and product design. Veen got his start with the founding team for Wired, before he created the Adaptive Path company for UX consulting. Jeff Veen is also known for being responsible for various aspects of Google Analytics. 

Over the years, Jeff has expanded his knowledge in the design space, and mentored various companies, from WordPress to Medium. He also has a fantastic podcast that you can listen to for guidance when you’re on the go. 

3. Jared Spool 

Jared Spool has been tackling the most common issues of user experience since before the term “UX” was even a thing. Excelling in the design world since 1978, Jared has become one of the biggest and most recognizable names in the user experience environment. He’s the founder of the User Interface Engineering consulting firm. The company concentrates on helping companies to improve their site and product usability. 

Jared offers plenty of handy information to stock up on in his Twitter feed. Additionally, you can find plenty of helpful links to blogs and articles that he has published around the web on Twitter too. He’s followed by Hubgets, PICUS, and many other leading brands. Make sure that you check out his collection of industry-leading talks on UIE. 

4. Jen Romano Bergstrom

An experimental psychologist, User Experience Research coach, and UX specialist, Jen is one of the most impressive women in the web design world. She helped to create the unique experiences that customers can access on Instagram and Facebook. Additionally, she has a specialist knowledge of eye-tracking on the web. You can even check out Jen’s books on eye-tracking and usability testing

When she’s not writing books or researching user experience, Jen is blogging and tweeting about usability and researching new strategies in the web design space. It’s definitely worth keeping up with Jen on Twitter, particularly if you want to be the first to know about her upcoming seminars and learning sessions. 

5. Katie Dill 

Katie Dill is the former Director of Experience for Airbnb, so you know that she knows her way around some unique experiences. With an expertise in working with companies that harness new technologies and UX design, Katie Dill is at the forefront of the user experience landscape. Dill attends various UX conferences throughout the year, and publishes a range of fantastic videos on YouTube. 

You can find blogs and articles from Katie published on the web; however, you’ll be able to get the most input from her by following Katie on her Twitter account. 

6. Khoi Vinh 

Khoi Vinh is one of the most friendly and unique UX bloggers and influencers on the market today. He knows how to talk to people in a way that’s interesting and engaging – even about more complicated topics in UX design. Vinh is a principle designer at Adobe, and he has his own podcast called Wireframe. However, he still finds time to keep his followers engaged on Twitter. 

Over the years, Khoi has worked as a Design Director for Etsy and the New York Times. Vinh also wrote a book called “Ordering Disorder” which examines grid principles in web design. According to Fast Company, he’s one of the most influential designers in America. Additionally, Khoi has a brilliant blog where you can check out all of his latest insights into UX design. 

7. Cory Lebson

Cory Lebson is a veteran in the world of web design and user experience. With more than 2 decades of experience in the landscape, Cory has his own dedicated UX consulting firm named Lebsontech. Lebson and his company concentrate on offering UX training, mentoring, and user experience strategy support to customers. Cory also regularly speaks on topics regarding UX career development, user experience, information architecture and more. 

Cory is an excellent influencer to follow on Twitter, where you’ll find him sharing various UX tricks and tips. You can also check out Cory’s handbook on UX careers, or find him publishing content on the Lebsontech blog too. 

8. Lizzie Dyson

Another amazing woman in the industry of UX, Lizzie Dyson is changing the experience landscape as we know it. Although she’s a relatively new figure in the web design world, she’s recognized world-wide for her amazing insights into the world of web development. Lizzie also helped to create a new group specifically for women that want to get involved in web design. 

The Ladies that UX monthly meet-up welcomes a community of women into the digital landscape, helping them to learn and expand their skills. Lizzie regularly publishes content online as part of Ladies that UX. Additionally, she appears on the Talk UX feed – an annual design and tech conference held for women around the world. 

9. Chris Messina 

Chris Messina is a product designer and a technical master who understands what it takes to avoid disappointing your users. With more than a decade of experience in the UX design landscape, Messina has worked for a variety of big-name brands, including Google and Uber. He is best known as the inventor of the hashtag!

Chris is a highly skilled individual who understands the unique elements that engage customers and keep people coming back for more on a website. You can see Chris speaking at a selection of leading conferences around the world. Check out some of his talks on YouTube or track down his schedule of upcoming talks here. Chris also has a variety of fantastic articles on Medium to read too. 

10. Elizabeth Churchill

Last, but definitely not least, Elizabeth Churchill is a UX leader with an outstanding background in psychology, research science, psychology, artificial intelligence, cognitive science, human interaction with computers and more. She knows her way around everything from cognitive economics, to everyday web design. Churchill also acts as the director of UX for Google Material Design. 

A powerhouse of innovation and information, Churchill has more than 50 patents to her name. She’s also the vice president of the Association for Computing Machinery too. When she’s not sharing information on Twitter, Elizabeth also has a regular column that you can tune into on the ACM Interactions magazine. 

Who Are You Following in 2020?

Whether you’re looking for inspiration, guidance, or information, the right influencers can deliver some excellent insights into the world of web design. There are plenty of thought leaders out there in the realm of user experience that can transform the way that you approach your client projects. You might even discover a new favourite podcast to listen to, or an amazing series of videos that help you to harness new talents. 

Influencers are more than just tools for digital marketing; they’re an excellent source of guidance for growing UX designers too.

 

Featured image via Pexels.

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7 All-Too-Common Landing Page Errors You Must Avoid

And it does this 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 52 weeks a year without ever asking for a pay raise.

But this is true only if your website landing page is designed well, maintained, and optimized to the gills. The art and science of a flawless landing page is beyond the scope of a single article, but we can start with helping you spot seven of the most common – and damaging – trouble spots.

1. Unclear Value Statement

Typically, new visitors to your page will only stay on it 3 to 15 seconds before they get distracted. In that span of time, you must offer a clear and visible reason to stick around and interact with the page.

That reason is your value statement. What value do your readers get in exchange for the time you ask them to spend? High-quality content is a must (and hopefully a given), but you also need to pull them in so they experience that content.

Does your landing page do that? If yes, great! If no, you should fix that. If you’re not sure, ask yourself:

  • Is there a compelling, visible headline that expresses the end benefits clearly and succinctly?
  • Is there a subheadline explaining your offering in more detail?
  • Are there supporting graphics that pull the eye toward your headline and subheadline?

If there aren’t, add them now.

2. Poor Signposting

Your landing page isn’t just there to be pretty. It’s meant to convince people to take action. If you don’t make it easy to find your call to action, most viewers won’t look for it.

deliver enough value to make it worth the hassle

You must make it clear — in as succinct and efficient terms as possible — why the action you want a reader to take will deliver enough value to make it worth the hassle. Tell them, in words that stand out from the rest of the page, what you want them to do next and what they’ll receive for doing so.

Improving your signposting stats by asking yourself the following questions:

  • Do you have a clear understanding of what the next step in a visitor’s customer journey should be?
  • Is it easy to find and take that step on your website?
  • Does your copy make a clear and compelling argument in favor of taking that step?

If you can answer yes to all three questions, your signposting is likely good (or at least good enough for now). If not, now you know what you have to do to improve it.

3. Slow Loading Time

Remember that 3 to 15-second maximum time limit we mentioned earlier? That span includes time spent waiting for your landing page to load, and every microsecond of that wait increases a reader’s likelihood of bailing on the whole thing. You must get your loading time to be as quick as possible.

Viewers who exit your landing page early – including while still waiting for it to load – increase your site’s bounce rate. Higher bounce rates reduce your rankings on Google and other search engines, meaning a page that loads too slowly not only impresses fewer viewers, but it also gets fewer viewers overall.

Improving your loading time is usually a job for your tech team or whoever in the office is responsible for overseeing your hosting service. That said, here are a few of the most important ways to optimize this important factor:

  • Optimize image size, file format, and compression;
  • Clean up your database by deleting saved drafts, old revisions, unused plugins, and similar virtual detritus;
  • Confirm that your WordPress theme (if applicable) is optimized for quick loading;
  • Use a content distribution network for file storage;
  • Analyze server response time with your hosting service, and work with them to reduce it;
  • Install tools that leverage browser caching;
  • Fix all your broken links;
  • Remove all render-blocking from JavaScript;
  • Reduce the number of redirects necessary to reach your page;
  • Optimize your code, especially in CSS, JavaScript, and HTML;
  • Enable file compression — except for on images;
  • Replace all PHP content with HTML wherever possible.

This is technical, detailed work, but it’s important. If you don’t have team members up to these tasks, it can be worth hiring an outside consulting company to do it for you.

4. Only One Landing Page

You have a good idea of your ideal customer’s hopes, fears, pain points, demographics, likes and dislikes, and other important information. If you have several different types of customers, you can’t use the same landing page for each of your customer groups. Each group has different characteristics that will prompt them to follow your call to action, so you don’t want to offer just one landing page.

Similarly, you also probably have more than one product or set of content and offerings to generate sales. Having only one landing page can lose leads because the page is only optimized for one of those products or content sets.

Ideally, you should have a unique landing page with a tailored offer for each of your customer models that would send those individuals to each of the products and content sets. An ad for professionals in their 30s making over $50,000 a year would lead to a landing page built for them, while an ad for heads of households working from home would lead to a landing page built for them.

Yes, that means a company with three profiles and four content sets would need 12 landing pages. And yes, it’s worth that kind of effort.

5. Insufficient Visuals

“A picture is worth 1,000 words” is ancient wisdom, but it’s far from true in the internet world – it’s actually worth more. A quick look at social media and blog performance will tell you many people will look at, enjoy, and share a photo or video, but not many will read an entire 1,000-word post on the same topic.

How well your landing page performs depends on the images you use and how you present them. Does your page’s layout conform to the best practices of visual web design:

  • Including images that emotionally reinforce the value expressions of your product’s core benefits;
  • Containing sufficient white space to not be intimidating;
  • Providing data images to indicate the worth of what you do;
  • Using visual design cues to lead the eye toward your conversion points;
  • Applying color gradients to highlight offers and your call to action;
  • Using infographics to replace the dreaded “wall of text”.

If you can say yes for half of these things, carry on. If not, this point may be among the better places to start with a landing page redesign.

6. Asking For Too Much, Too Soon

Craft a custom calls to action that meet all levels of interest, need, and desire

Not every landing page visitor is created equal. Some are hardcore fans and experts in what you do, ready for a 10,000-word white paper that dives deeply into the research supporting your use case. Others might have heard about your industry on an Instagram page and want to know the basics of what you do.

There’s nothing worse than going to a website and being asked for all of your personal information right away. If your call to action requires too much knowledge, too deep a commitment, or even too much personal information, consider scaling back. Otherwise, you risk turning away potential customers.

Better yet, go back to No. 5 above and build a new landing page for beginners and early-stage leads. Craft a custom calls to action that meet all levels of interest, need, and desire.

7. No Trust Elements

Offering some type of authentic customer referral or testimonial is important. It all boils down to the same thing: telling those who read your landing page that other people already like what you do and how you do it.

Examples of effective modern trust elements include:

  • Quotes from positive reviews next to a photo of the reviewer;
  • Screenshots of social media posts praising your company or product;
  • Short video interviews of happy clients;
  • Blurbs for industry thought leaders approving of you;
  • Images portraying business credentials and certifications;
  • Links to positive press coverage;
  • Logos of known business customers who buy and trust your brand.

Final Thought: What’s Next?

There isn’t one guaranteed way to turn a landing page from something full of holes into something perfect. But first, run an audit of your landing page using this list as a guide. Note which errors are there. Next, sort them in order of what takes the least time to fix to what takes the most time to fix.

Then, fix them in that order. We find that getting the quick fixes done builds excitement and momentum, whereas starting with a harder fix can mire down the whole process.

If none of these errors exist on your landing page, congratulations. There’s still lots of work to do on your website and content marketing, but it’s not among these rookie mistakes.

 

Featured image via Pexels.

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