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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

10 Reasons Your WordPress Site Will Get Hacked (and How to Stop It)

A hacked WordPress site is as damaging as having your home burgled. It can completely shatter your peace of mind and adversely impact your online business. 

Why do hackers target WordPress sites? The answer is relatively simple: WordPress is the single biggest platform for website creation these days, so there’s a larger base to attack; this attracts the attention of online criminals. 

So, how can a hack impact your website? 

Depending on the type of attack, your website could suffer any of the following:

  • It could be defaced completely;
  • It could load or operate very slowly on any device;
  • It could completely crash and malfunction;
  • It could display the dreadful “White Screen of Death”;
  • Its incoming visitors could be redirected to other suspicious websites;
  • It could lose all your valuable customer data.

This list is not exhaustive but you get the idea.

Now that we know how a successful hack can impact your website and online business, let us look at the top 10 reasons behind WP hacks and prevent them.

1. An Insecure Web Host 

Like any website, WordPress is hosted on a web host or server. Unfortunately, most site owners do not pay much attention to the web host they select and choose the cheapest they can find. For example, it is more affordable to host a website on a shared hosting plan — one that shares its server resources with many other websites like yours.

This can make your site vulnerable to hackers as a successful hack into any website on the shared server. A single hacked site can consume the overall server bandwidth and impact all the other sites’ performance.

The only way to fix this problem is to opt for a reliable host and a virtual or dedicated server.

Pro tip: If you’re already using a shared hosting plan, check with your hosts if they offer VPS hosting and make the switch.

2. Use of Weak Passwords

Weak passwords are the main reason behind successful brute force attacks that target your account. Even to this day, users continue to use weak and common passwords like “password” or “123456”; if you’re one of them, your website could land in trouble!

Guessing weak passwords allows hackers to enter the admin accounts where they can inflict the maximum damage.

How do you fix this problem? Simple, ensure all your account users (including admin users) configure strong passwords for their login credentials. With at least 8 characters, passwords must be a mix of upper- and lower-case alphabets, numbers, and symbols. 

For added safety, install a password management tool that can automatically generate and store strong passwords.

Pro tip: You can use a plugin to reset passwords for all your users.

3. An Outdated WP Version

Outdated software is among the most common reasons why websites get hacked. Despite being free to download, most site users defer updating their site to the latest version, for fears of updates causing their site to crash.

Hackers take advantage of any vulnerability or bug in an older version and cause issues like SQL Injections, WP-VCD Malware, SEO Spam & other major issues like website redirecting to another site.

How do you solve this problem? When you see a notification about an update on your dashboard, update your site as soon as possible.

Pro tip: If you are worried about updates crashing your live website, you can first test the updates on a staging site.

4. Outdated WP Plugins and Themes

Similar to the previous point, hackers also take advantage of outdated, unused, or abandoned plugins and themes installed on websites. With over 55,000 plugins and themes that are available, it is easy to install a plugin or theme, even from unsafe or untrusted websites. 

Plus, many users do not update their installed plugins/themes to the latest version or do not find the updated version. This makes it easier for hackers to do their job & infect sites.

How do you avoid this problem? As with the core WP version, update each of your installed plugins/themes on your site regularly. Take stock of all the unused ones and remove them or replace them with better alternatives.

You can update your plugins/themes from your hosting account.

Pro tip: We suggest setting aside time every week to run updates. Test them on a staging site and then update your site.

5. Common Admin Usernames 

In addition to weak passwords, users also create common usernames that are easy to guess. 

This includes common usernames for admin users like – “admin”, “admin1”, or “admin123”. Common admin usernames make it easier for hackers to get into admin accounts and control backend files in your WP installation.

How do you avoid this problem? If you are using any such usernames that are easy to guess, change them immediately to a unique username. The easiest way of doing it is through your hosting account’s user management tool, by deleting the previous admin user and creating a new admin user with a unique username.

As the first step, change the default username of your admin user and limit users who have administrator privileges.

Pro tip: WordPress has 6 different user roles with limited permissions. Only grant admin access to users who really need it.

6. Use of Nulled Plugins/Themes 

Coming back to the importance of plugins/themes, users have access to many websites that sell nulled or pirated copies of popular and paid plugins and themes. While these are free to use, they are often riddled with malware. They can compromise your website’s overall security and make it easier for hackers to exploit. 

Being a pirated copy, nulled plugins/themes do not have any available updates from its development team, hence will not have any security fixes.

How do you fix this problem? Simple, for a start, only download original plugins and themes from trusted websites and marketplaces.

Pro tip: If you don’t wish to pay for paid or premium plugins and themes, opt for a free version of the same tools that will have limited features but are still safer to use than the nulled version. 

7. Unprotected Access to wp-admin Folder

To take control of your site, hackers often try to break into and control your wp-admin folder in your installation. As the website owner, you must take measures to protect your wp-admin directory.

How can you protect your wp-admin folder? First, restrict the number of users having access to this critical folder. Additionally, apply for password protection as an added layer of security for access to the wp-admin folder. You can do this using the “Password Protection Directories” feature of the cPanel in your web host account.

Pro tip: Besides these fixes, you can also implement Two Factor Authentication (or 2FA) protection for all your admin accounts.

8. Non-SSL Website

You can easily migrate your HTTP website to HTTPS by installing an SSL certificate on your site. SSL (or Secure Socket Layer) is a secure mode of encrypting any data transmission between your web server and the client browser.

Without this encryption, hackers can intercept the data and steal it. Plus, a non-secure website can have many negative implications for your business – lower SEO ranking, loss of customer trust, or a drop in incoming traffic.

How do you fix this problem? You can quickly obtain an SSL certificate from your hosting company or SSL providers. It encrypts all data that is sent from and received by your website. 

Pro tip: You can get a free SSL certificate from places like Let’s Encrypt, but these provide limit protection that will only be sufficient for a starter site or small site.

9. No Firewall Protection

Lack of firewall protection is another common reason why hackers can bypass website security measures and infiltrate the backend resources. Firewalls are the last line of defence against hackers and work like the security alarm installed on your house. Firewalls monitor web requests coming from various IP addresses, including the suspicious (or bad) ones. 

They can identify and block requests that are known to be malicious in the past, thus preventing easy access for hackers to your website domain. Web application firewalls can thwart various attacks, including brute force attacks, XSS, and SQL injections.

Pro tip: A firewall provides much-needed security and is  your first line of defence. But it’s important to also have a malware scanner installed.

10. Lack of WordPress Hardening Measures

Typically, hackers target the most vulnerable areas or weaknesses within a WP installation, to illegally access or damage the website. The WordPress team has identified these vulnerable areas and has devised a list of 12 hardening measures recommended for every website.

A few of these include:

  • Disabling the File Editor;
  • Preventing PHP execution in untrusted folders;
  • Changing the security keys;
  • Disallowing plugin installations;
  • Automatic logout of inactive users;

How do you implement these hardening measures? While some steps are easy to understand, others require the technical expertise of how WordPress works. 

Pro tip: You can implement hardening measures on your own. However, some measures require technical expertise so in these cases, it’s much easier and safer to use a plugin.

 

Featured image via Pexels.

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Source de l’article sur Webdesignerdepot

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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Source de l’article sur Webdesignerdepot

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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Source de l’article sur Webdesignerdepot

Branding 101: Choosing the Right Business Name

When starting a new business (or even venturing into the world of freelancing for the first time), there are some really big, important steps you have to take.

Step #1 is choosing the right business name for your brand identity.

Your business name isn’t something you can casually choose either — especially if you have lofty long-term goals for your company. It’s not as though you can’t change the name down the road, but that comes with a ton of work and will require you to rebuild pretty much everything all over again: your visual brand identity, your reputation, and your SEO…

So, it’s a good idea to spend time choosing a business name that’s going to work for you now and long into the future.

Today, we’re going to go through the process of how to name your brand. These questions will have you thinking beyond just “What name do I like the sound of?” and have you more focused on important questions like “What is my unique value proposition?”.

Let’s get started:

How to Name Your New Business

For those of you considering taking the easy way out and using a business name generator tool, let me show you why that’s a bad idea:

This is a list of business names suggested to me when I told the generator that my business is related to “design”:

  • Design
  • Normal Design
  • Regional Design
  • Design Partner
  • Design Stock

Even the more unique names on the list are unusable; they have no connection to me personally or to the kind of business I plan to start.

This is why it’s so important to sort out your brand identity and make sure you pick a business name that resonates with you, and your target audience. To do this yourself, answer the following seven questions:

1. What Services Will You Provide Or Products Will You Sell?

The one thing that name generators get right is including a descriptive word related to your business. That way, it doesn’t take an actual visit to your website or a look through your portfolio to figure out what you do.

Even if you have a very niche specialty, sum up your offering in one or two words. For instance:

  • Web design
  • Digital design
  • Design & development
  • UX design
  • Graphic design

Unless you run your business through your own name (which I’ll talk about shortly), your business name should include a simplified version of your offering in it.

2. Who Is Your Target User Persona?

A user persona is a fictional character created using the demographics and psychology of your ideal customer or client. You can use Hubspot’s Make My Persona generator to create a card that documents these details:

Once you sort out who you serve, what makes them tick, and how it fits into the bigger picture of their business, you can better pitch your solution to them.

For instance, Joanna above is a real estate agent and owner whose primary goal is to capture leads and generate sales. You know how effective a real estate website can be for improving an agent’s visibility online and streamlining how they earn money.

So, including words in your business name that speak to that persona as well as their goals might be really useful.

Just keep in mind that web designers don’t always commit to one niche or stick with the same niche over the long run. So, you might not want to make your business name too specific to an industry (e.g. “Real Estate Design Solutions”) and more related to higher level themes and goals.

3. What Are The Names Of Your Top Competitors?

Do you know who your main competitors will be upon entering this space? If not, now’s the time to look them up.

When it comes to business names, you want to see if you can identify common threads among them. Perhaps they use puns or include location-specific descriptors. Or they just stick with the names they were born with.

While you don’t want to come off as a copycat, you can imbue your business name with a similar theme or tone if it’s proven to be successful with your shared audience. 

4. What Makes You Different?

Every business has a unique value proposition (UVP) — something that sets them apart from everyone else in the space. What’s yours?

Do you operate within a large metropolitan area where your prospective clients’ industry is booming?

Did you previously work in the industry for which you now build websites?

Are you an SEO expert who builds enterprise websites that rank?

In business, it’s good to be different — so long as it benefits your clients.

If you have a particular UVP that’s going to make you stand out, you’re going to use it everywhere to market yourself — your website, social media, sales pitches, etc. So, you might want to consider using a unique keyword from it within your business name.

5. Where Do You Envision Yourself In Five Years?

No one’s future is set in stone. However, if you’re seriously thinking about starting a new web design business, you have some ideas about where you want to go with it:

  • Do you like the idea of being a lifelong freelancer or digital nomad?
  • Would you like to operate your own design agency?
  • Do you have aspirations to build and sell website products, like plugins, themes, or UI kits instead?

If you expect to pivot your business at some point, be careful about choosing a business name that paints you into a corner. Keep it broader so that prospects don’t have to wonder what it is you really do.

And if you plan on scaling your business beyond yourself, using your own name might not be the best idea. You’ll want clients to associate the brand name with your agency, not with you specifically.

6. Will Your Business Name Be Easy To Remember?

At this point, you have some business names brewing. So, now we need to look at the more technical aspects of naming your brand.

Here’s what you need to do.

a. Write down no more than three to five business names you like.

For example:

  • Honeymooners Web Design
  • Charles Murphy Design & Development
  • FoREver Websites
  • SOLD Web Design Agency

b. Mash each name into one long lowercase string. Don’t include any punctuation.

For example:

  • honeymoonerswebdesign
  • charlesmurphydesignanddevelopment
  • foreverwebsites
  • soldwebdesignagency

c. Are any of the names difficult to read? Too long? Do any of them cause confusion and look like they mean something else?

If so, get rid of them as a matching domain name won’t work. Or, if you absolutely love them, fix the name so it’s clear, readable, and short. For instance:

charlesmurphydesignanddevelopment becomes charlesmurphydesign or just charlesmurphy.

7. Does The Name You Want Already Exist?

It’s a good idea to have a backup name in case you discover that the name you want already exists. Due to trademarking issues as well as possible confusion for your clients, you’ll want to avoid using a name that overlaps with or is the same as any other company (in or outside of web design).

Do a Google search for the business name you want to use. Check out the top 10 search results to see if there are any other matches.

You’ll also want to test out the domain name. Go to Domain.com and run your business name string through it:

You have a few options if this happens:

  1. Choose a different top-level domain (e.g. .tech, .io, .design).
  2. Use an abbreviated version of your business name  (e.g. solddesignagency.com).
  3. Move your backup business name to the front of the line and see if it’s available.

It all depends on how attached you are to the business name you’ve chosen. Just make sure that any changes you make to it (like shortening the domain name or using an alternate TLD) doesn’t cause confusion for prospects who look you up online. You don’t want them confusing someone else’s domain name for yours if business name and domain name don’t line up.

Choosing a Business Name Is Just the First Step…

Once you’ve settled on your business name, share it with a few people you trust. They’ll let you know if you’ve totally missed the mark or if it’s something you should be excited to run with.

As soon as you’re 100% sure it’s the right name, buy the domain name and register your company. Then, it’ll be official!

Of course, this isn’t the end to branding your new business. In our next Branding 101 post, we’re going to look at the next step: How to create the visual identity for your business.

Stay tuned!

 

Featured image via Pexels.

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5 Best Free Courses and Resources to Level Up As a Web Designer

I often see freelancers on social media asking what the secret is to working fewer hours, making more money, and helping new clients to find them. While those things tend to happen the longer you’ve been freelancing, it doesn’t happen without some effort.

If you’re wondering how you can change things so that your business becomes more profitable and easier to manage, education is the key.

But it’s not just mastering new design techniques that will take you to the next level. It’s important to invest your time in a well-rounded education so that you can grow not just as a web designer, but also as a freelancer and business owner.

The good news is that you don’t have to spend a ton of cash on courses or resources. In the following round-up, I’m going to share some of the best free courses to help you level up.

5 Best Free Courses and Resources for Web Designers

Rather than sign up for Udemy, Skillshare and other premium course membership sites, I recommend taking a bootstrapping approach to self-education. I mean, the whole point in learning new skills and strengthening existing ones is so you can run a better business and make more money, right?

Once you have extra funds to throw at premium courses, definitely explore those options. For now, let’s focus on the free courses and resources that’ll help get you to that next level:

1. edX

edX was created by Harvard and MIT in order to provide university-level training and education to anyone, anywhere. While you can’t get certified without paying a few hundred dollars, you can go through entire courses for free.

Courses are offered over a wide range of categories. As a freelance web designer, you’d do well to focus on the following areas:

Design
Learn more than just how to design beautiful interfaces. Learn about the technical side of it, too — things like AI, IoT, and cybersecurity.

Computer Science
Learn web development and coding.

Business & Management
Learn essential business skills like:

  • Project management
  • Finance management
  • Leadership
  • Marketing and analysis

Communication
Learn things like branding, negotiation, reputation management, and critical thinking.

2. Envato Tuts+

Envato Tuts+ might be best known for its succinct step-by-step design and development tutorials. However, it has a new section of free video courses to take advantage of.

Although you won’t learn any soft skills here, this is a great resource if you want to master the tools of your trade.

Free courses give you a deeper look at tools like:

  • HTML, CSS, and JavaScript
  • Adobe’s suite of software
  • Sketch
  • WordPress
  • Video conferencing tools

3. YouTube

YouTube is more than just a place to watch entertaining videos. There are some amazing YouTube channels for web designers at all skill levels.

When choosing a design channel and course to follow, look for ones that are well organized. If they’re just posting videos at random without any rhyme or reason, it’ll be difficult to focus on and master one skill set before moving onto the next.

Here are the channels I recommend you follow:

Flux

Learn skills related to:

  • Web design
  • Getting started as a freelancer
  • Strengthening your processes
  • Building your portfolio
  • Design theory and strategy

CharliMarieTV

Learn skills related to:

  • Web design
  • Building sites with Figma or Webflow
  • Career paths for designers
  • Productivity hacks

NNgroup

Learn skills related to UX:

  • Web design
  • User psychology
  • Usability testing
  • Design thinking
  • Research and data analysis
  • Journey mapping
  • Get access to UX Conference seminars, too

4. Moz Whiteboard Fridays

Even if you don’t offer SEO as a standalone service, it’s important for web designers to understand the role they play in SEO and to stay abreast of the latest and greatest strategies.

If you haven’t tuned in for one of Moz’s Whiteboard Fridays yet, I’d recommend you start now.

Some of the topics might not be relevant to you (like creating a content strategy). However, there are others you’ll get some great tips from, like the one above that talks about creating great visuals, preparing web pages with tags and schema markup, and optimizing for featured snippets.

5. Nir Eyal – Indistractible

Nir Eyal has made a name for himself over the years as an author and presenter on the subject of human psychology and behavior. His first book (Hooked) examined consumer behavior and how to design around it. His second (Indistractible) turned the focus on us — the doers and creators who build experiences and products for consumers.

The first of his free resources to explore is this 30-minute presentation on why we’re so easily distracted and how to keep those distractions (and ourselves) from getting in the way.

The second free resource to snag up is the 80-page workbook available on the homepage. Here’s a preview of what it looks like:

You’ll learn about common distractions, identify those that are specific to you, and then work through exercises to defeat them.

If this is something you’re struggling with, these resources will empower you to make a much-needed change.

BONUS: WebDesigner Depot

Although WebDesigner Depot doesn’t offer video courses, I consider each of the articles contained within this site to be mini-courses of their own. And you’ll learn everything you’ve ever wanted to know about becoming a web designer and growing your freelance business.

 

Featured image via Unsplash.

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12 Best Google Design & Development Tools

Google resembles an iceberg: there’s the part above the water we can see and use everyday; there’s also the part beneath the water, that we don’t see and know little about.

While many of us are concerned about the aspects of Google we don’t see — the parts that threaten our privacy, or monopolize the web — there’s no denying that Google offers some amazing products and tools, many of them free, all from the convenience of a single login.

Today we’re going to take a look at 12 tools from Google that really do bring something positive to the table.

1. Polymer

Polymer is an open-source JavaScript library from Google for building web applications using Web Components. The platform comes with a ton of libraries and tools to help designers and developers unlock the web’s potential by taking advantage of features like HTTP/2, Web Components, and Service Workers. 

The main feature of Polymer is Web Components. With Web Components, you can share custom elements to any site, work seamlessly with any browser’s built-in elements, and effectively use frameworks of all kinds. Products like LitElement (a simple base class for creating fast, lightweight web components) and PWA Starter Kit make Polymer easy to use. If you like, you can build your app entirely out of Web Components.

2. Lighthouse

Google Lighthouse is an open-source, automated tool for improving the quality of web pages. The software allows you to audit web pages for performance, SEO, accessibility, and more. You can run Lighthouse using ChromeDevTools, directly from the command line, or as a Node module. 

To use Lighthouse in Google Chrome, just go to the URL you want to audit (you can audit any URL on the web), open ChromeDevTools, and click the Audits tab. After you have run the audit, Lighthouse will give you an in-depth report on the web page. 

With these reports, you will see which parts of your web page you need to optimize. Each report has a reference doc that explains why that audit is important and also shows you the steps you can take to fix it. 

You can also use Lighthouse CL to prevent regression on your sites. Using Lighthouse Viewer, you can view and share reports online. You can also share reports as JSON or GitHub Gists. 

Lighthouse also comes with a feature called Stack Packs that allows Lighthouse to detect what platform a site is built on. It also displays specific stack-based recommendations.

3. Google Analytics

Google Analytics is the gold standard of analytics services. Google analytics can be installed on your site for free with a small amount of JavaScript and allows you to see all kinds of details about your site visitors, like what browser they’re using, and where they’re from.

By using Google Analytics you can make decisions about your site based on science, and therefore be somewhat confident that the decisions you make will result in the outcome you are expecting.

4. Flutter

Flutter is Google’s UI toolkit for building natively compiled applications for mobile, web, and desktop from a single codebase. The toolkit is open source and free to use. The best part of Flutter is that it works with existing code. 

The toolkit has a layered architecture that allows for full customization, which results in fast rendering and flexible designs. It also comes with fully-customizable widgets that allow you to build native interfaces in minutes. With these widgets, you will be able to add platform features such as scrolling, navigation, icons, and fonts to provide a full native performance on both iOS and Android.

Flutter also has a feature called hot reload that allows you to easily build UIs, add new features, and fix bugs faster. You can also compile Flutter code to native ARM machine code using Dart native compilers. 

5. Google API Explorer

Google has a huge library of APIs that are available to developers but finding these APIs can be difficult. Google API Explorer makes it easy for developers to locate any API. On the Google API Explorer web page, you will see a complete list of the entire API library. You can easily scroll through the list or use the search box to filter through the API list. 

The best part of Google API Explorer is that each link to a reference page comes with more details on how to use the API. API Explorer is an excellent way to try out methods in the Monitoring API without having to write any code.

6. Puppeteer

Puppeteer is a project from the Google Chrome team. The platform enables web developers to control a Chrome (or any other Chrome DevTools Protocol based browser) and execute common actions, much like in a real browser. Puppeteer is also a Node library and it provides a high-level API for working with headless Chrome. It is also a useful tool for scraping, testing, and automating web pages. 

Here are some things you can do with Puppeteer: generate screenshots and PDFs of pages, UI testing, test Chrome Extensions, automate form submission, generate pre-rendered content, and crawl Single-Page Applications. 

7. Codelabs

Google Developer Codelabs is a handy tool for beginner developers and even advanced developers who want to improve their knowledge. Codelabs provide a guided, tutorial, hands-on coding experience. Codelabs’ site is broken down into several tutorial sessions on different topics. 

With the tutorials on Codelabs, you can learn how to build applications from scratch. Some of the tutorial categories include Augmented reality, TensorFlow, Analytics, Virtual Analytics, G Suite, Search, Google Compute Engine, and Google APIs on iOS. 

8. Color Tool

Color Tool makes it easy for web designers to create, share, and apply colors to their UI. It also measures the accessibility level for any color combination before exporting to the palette. The tool comes with 6 user interfaces and offers over 250 colors to choose from. 

The tool is also very easy to use. All you need to do is pick a color and apply it to the primary color scheme; switch to the secondary color scheme, and pick another color. You can also switch to Custom to pick your own colors. After you have selected all your colors, use the Accessibility feature to check if all is good before exporting it to your palette. 

9. Workbox

Workbox is a set of JavaScript libraries and Node modules. The JavaScript libraries make it easy to add offline support to web apps. The Node modules make it easy to cache assets and offer other features to help users build Progressive Web Apps. Some of these features include pre-caching, runtime caching, request routing, background sync, debugging, and greater flexibility than sw-precache and sw-toolbox. 

With Workbox, you can add a quick rule that enables you to cache Google fonts, images, JavaScript, and CSS files. Caching these files will make your web page to run faster and also consume less storage. You can also pre-cache your files in your web app using their CLI, Node module, or webpack plugin. 

10. PageSpeed Insights

PageSpeed Insights is a handy tool from Google Developers that analyzes the content of a web page, then generates suggestions on how to make the page faster. It gives reports on the performance of a web page on both desktop and mobile devices. At the top of the report, PageSpeed Insights provides a score that summarizes the page’s performance. 

11. AMP on Google

AMP pages load faster and also look better than standard HTML pages on mobile devices. AMP on Google allows you to enhance your AMP pages across Google. It is a web component framework that allows you to create user-first websites, ads, emails, and stories. One benefit of AMP is that it allows your web pages to load almost instantly across all devices and platforms hence improving the user’s experience. 

12. Window Resizer

When creating websites, it is important that developers test them for responsive design – this is where Window Resizer comes in. Window Resizer is a Chrome extension that resizes the browser window so that you can test your responsive design on different screen resolutions. The common screen sizes offered are desktop, laptop, and mobile, but you can also add custom screen sizes. 

 

Featured image via Unsplash.

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