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How to Get Dark Mode Design Right

Dark themes are everywhere these days. 

As human beings continue to spend more of their time interacting with technology, dark themes provide a more relaxing way to engage with the digital world. More often than not, these themes are easier on the eyes, more attractive, and perfect for the dedicated user

Throughout 2020, countless leading brands have debuted their own version of the dark theme. Google has a solution for your Drive, while Apple and Android have built dark theme performance right into their operating systems. 

If you haven’t learned how to make the most out of dark mode yet, then you could be missing out on an excellent opportunity to differentiate your design skills, and earn more clients going forward. 

Why Dark Mode?

Before we dive too deeply into the possibilities of creating your own dark theme, let’s examine what dark mode is, and why it’s so effective. 

Ultimately, dark themes are created to reduce the amount of luminance emitted by everything from your desktop and laptop, to your smartphone and smartwatch. Dark themes help to improve the visual ergonomics of design, by reducing eye strain, adjusting brightness to suit current lighting conditions, and more. Additionally, many dark mode offerings are also fantastic at conserving battery life. 

Here are some of the main benefits of adding dark themes to your design portfolio

  • Better user experience: A focus on user experience is one of the most important trends of the digital age. You need to be willing to deliver incredible experiences to everyone who visits your website if you want to stand out today. Dark mode reduces everything from eye strain, to battery power consumption. This helps to keep customers on a website for longer.
  • Innovation and cutting edge appeal: Most companies want to prove that they can stay on the cutting edge of their industry. The ability to offer an opt-in dark mode version of a website theme or appearance can help your clients to stand out from the crowd. As the environment becomes more mobile-focused, more companies will be looking for designers that can provide the best mobile experiences. 
  • Support for universal design: Dark mode isn’t just great for people who have light sensitivity at night. This solution could be more comfortable for visually-impaired users who would struggle with eye strain when visiting your websites otherwise. If you want your content to be more inclusive for a wider range of viewers, then learning how to design for dark mode is a good way to start.

Best Practices When Designing for Dark Mode

Designing for dark mode is easier than you’d think. Most of the time, it involves simply thinking about how you can replace some of the brighter, more overwhelming aspects of your site, with something deeper and darker. 

Here are some useful tips that will get you moving in the right direction. 

1. Experiment with Colors

A big issue for a lot of web designers when it comes to developing a dark mode solution is that they get too caught up with things like pure white text against pure black backgrounds. However, this high-contrast option can be a little much after a while. 

It’s often much easier to use a dark grey as your primary surface color, instead of a true black. Additionally, rather than using bright white, think about slightly off-white alternatives that will be warmer to the eye.

Experiment with surfaces and color combinations that are unlikely to cause too much eye strain. Dark grey foundations often offer a wider range of depth, too, because you can demonstrate shadows on grey. 

Additionally, when you are experimenting with colors, remember that saturated colors often vibrate painfully against very dark surfaces, making them harder to read. Desaturating your colors will help to reduce the contrast and make your websites more welcoming. 

Lighter tones in the 200-50 range will have better readability on dark themes. However, you can always experiment with your choices. Google Material Design recommends using a contrast level of around 15:8:1 between your background and text. 

2. Consider the Emotional Impact

Much of the effort involved with dark mode design is figuring out how certain colors work together. It’s easy to get carried away with stark contrasts, particularly when you’re used to working with a white background. However, you need to remember that you’re designing for a user that’s primarily looking for an easier and more subdued browsing experience.

While you’re working, remember to consider the emotional aspect of the design too. The emotion in colors can make or break a buyer’s journey in any environment. However, an often overlooked-aspect of color psychology, is that people perceive shades differently when they’re on a black background

For instance, think of the color green. On a light background, it conveys nature and even financial wealth. However, on a dark background, the same green could come across as something venomous, toxic, or even sickly. It’s important to think about the kind of impressions end users are going to get when they arrive on your site.

3. Give Users the Freedom to Choose

One of the biggest mistakes you can make when you begin designing for dark mode, is thinking that you should focus entirely on your dark themes, and nothing else. This lines you up for a problem if you interact with users who want the best of both worlds. If you’re designing for apps in particular, you’re going to need web pages that can switch naturally between light and dark themes. 

Learning how to implement both a dark mode and a light mode option into the desks you create will help you to reach a wider selection of customers. Remember, you’ll need to test the performance and impact of your designs in both themes, to check that they deliver the same kind of experience, no matter how your user chooses to browse. 

Although dark mode should offer a different experience to end-users, it still needs to feel as though they’re browsing on the same website. That means that you’re going to need to experiment with the most natural combination of light and dark mode options.

4. Remember the Basics

Remember, although the three tips above will help you to get on the right path for dark mode design, you’ll also need to consider the opportunities and limitations of the platforms that you’re designing for. The kind of dark mode experience you can deliver for Google Chrome websites is going to be very different to what you can create for something running on iOS.

Examining the documentation provided by the system that you’re designing for will help you to develop something with a close insight into what’s actually possible. 

Other top tips for dark mode design include:

  • Focus on your content: Make sure that your content stands out on the page, without being too overwhelming. 
  • Test your design: In both light and dark appearances, you need to make sure everything is working as it should be.
  • Adopt vibrancy for your interfaces: Vibrancy helps to improve the contrast between your background and foreground. 
  • Use semantic colors: Semantic colors adapt to the current appearance of a website automatically. Hard-coded color values that don’t adapt can seem more aggressive. 
  • Desktop tinting: Try experiment with things like transparency and filters to give your websites and apps a slightly warmer tint – ideal for late-night browsing
  • Icons: Use individual glyphs and icons for dark and light modes if necessary. 

Ready to Design for Dark Mode?

Preparing your web development and design portfolio for an era addicted to dark mode can be a complex experience. You need to think carefully about how people are going to browse through your websites and apps when they’re searching for something more subtle, and less visually overwhelming than the websites that we’re used to making. 

The most important thing to remember is that everything on your website or application should look just as beautifully tailor-made in dark mode as it does in light mode. Simply adding a dynamic black background when people want to switch settings in an app isn’t enough. You need to go in-depth with your designs and examine how different fonts, colors, and images work together.

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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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Source de l’article sur Webdesignerdepot

Why AI & Automation Are Actually Friends to Design

Artificial intelligence. Just hearing the phrase has been a trigger for many in the technology world since that creepy Haley Joel Osment film circa 2001. But more recently, artificial intelligence and machine learning strike fear into the hearts of skilled workers for an entirely different reason: job security, or lack thereof.

Smart-home devices, streaming services, self-checkouts, even Google searches are ways that artificial intelligence has seeped into everyday life, exemplifying the abilities of computers and machines to master both simple and complex tasks. In some instances, these technological advancements make our lives easier, but for some people, their proliferation has meant job loss and skill replacement. There’s no wonder that when artificial intelligence starts being mentioned along with web design and site creation, the spidey senses of designers all over the world start tingling.

designers think outside the box, something that AI just can’t do

But let’s get real about what AI and automation really mean for designers for a second. Talented designers with busy schedules should view these advancements as virtual assistants. For some small businesses on a limited budget, the websites that artificial intelligence can pump out might be fine…for a while. However, as businesses grow, change, require updating and customization to adapt to their customer base, the expertise of creative and talented designers will always be needed. Even the best AI that we see today is limited by evaluating, replicating, and revising what already exists. It may be able to mix 1,000 different color schemes into 10 million potential combinations, but great designers think outside the box, something that AI just can’t do.

In fact, rather than being scared of automation, designers ought to embrace automation and artificial intelligence as a way to unleash their creative thinking. Delegate repetitive, straightforward tasks to the right software, and suddenly you have time to bring your best ideas to the table and push the boundaries of your own innovation. 

Where AI has Failed in Design

The ultimate goal of artificial intelligence and automation in design work is a grand vision that has yet to be realised.

Consider the case of The Grid, which began as a crowdfunding campaign in 2014. The “revolutionary” product posed itself as an artificial intelligence solution for building thoughtfully, yet automatically, designed websites in five minutes. Research “Reviews of the Grid” in any search engine and you’ll be met with scathing criticism with only some small praise sprinkled in. Most of the initial users cite underwhelming results, the feeling of being duped by the Grid’s marketing tactics, nonsensical placement of text, and ultimately, the Grid being a complete waste of money for the resulting product. Even at the low cost of $100, compared to hiring a talented designer, most users felt their investment was wasted.

For the AI capabilities that exist now, most small business owners, or those looking to put together a simple website, are better off using drag and drop site builders (Wix, Squarespace, Weebly, etc) that have been around for ages. Even so, there are plenty of businesses still willing to hire designers to take this simple task off their plate due to a lack of technical expertise or lack of time. And let’s be honest, are there even enough talented (keyword here!) designers out there to keep up with the millions of websites created every year, without each one working themselves to death? 

Where Automation Shines for Designers

Fortunately for good designers, it appears for now that the days of artificial intelligence completely taking over their jobs is a fantasy. However, what AI and automation do offer designers is a solid starting point for success, eliminating much of the lower-level grunt work that most designers would rather skip anyway.

Even well-received AI website builders like Firedrop still require a basic eye for design and specialised knowledge to produce truly unique, high-converting, and user-friendly websites. Tools and practices that designers should adopt are the artificial intelligence and automation resources that will help them do their jobs better, faster, and leave them with more time to focus on project elements that AI cannot accomplish on its own.

Bridging the Gap Between Designers and Developers

Well-established brands are likely to already have design systems in place that guide the creation of new elements across their digital profiles whether on social media, various mobile apps, or different sections of a website. But even in large corporations — excepting those who have perfected the process — there’s often a breakdown between a designer’s vision and resulting product from the developers. It stems from the basic difference in how they each approach their work and the limitations of the systems they use.

While component libraries — or even full design systems for that matter — won’t reconcile every question, they provide both developers and designers a source of truth to work from that both parties can understand. Design collaboration tools like Invision and Visme, specifically, keep designers and developers on the same page with automated version saving and code-friendly workflows.  

Understanding the Consumer

I don’t suggest using artificial intelligence to produce content for your site

Digging into and understanding the behaviours and habits of site users is a relatively new component of site design, but offers invaluable insights. Tools like HotJar, Mouseflow, or Smartlook make it simple to see holes or leaks in your conversion funnels, detect which page elements users are interacting with, and which they’re not interested in to refine the look and feel of a page for maximum conversions. Even though these tools provide the data, it still takes a keen eye and understanding of design to implement the right changes to improve site performance.

Site content is another way that artificial intelligence has the potential to improve our understanding of customer behaviour and improve site performance for individual users. I don’t suggest using artificial intelligence to produce content for your site, no matter how much the results have improved. However, static landing pages or a single set of further reading recommendations are unlikely to appeal to the majority of site visitors. Artificial intelligence tools like CliClap and Personyze instantly collect and analyse consumer data to provide dynamic, personalised experiences that drive more leads and encourage conversions. Creative designers will also learn from this data to improve customer experience with other pages or elements throughout the site.

Removing Distracting, Time-Sucking Administrative Tasks

Because “artificial intelligence” has become a term with such negative connotations, we often overlook the simple way that AI actually makes our work lives better and easier. Machine learning in email filtering is a great example of this. Consider a simple interface like a Gmail inbox. We have the option to mark certain senders as spam or as important, and our inbox learns that type of communication is and isn’t useful to the user. Pandora, Spotify, Apple Music, and more all take cues from the user behaviour of liking a certain song, artists, or genre of music to build customised playlists. There are a myriad of ways that artificial intelligence and its branches of disciplines merge with our everyday lives. 

Some of the most useful automations for business, and especially for designers, are related to the administrative tasks that frequently take time away or distract from more pressing projects. A perfect example of automation that can relieve stress and cut down on mindless work is an email autoresponder. I’ve always found that having time blocked off in my calendar to tackle complex or important projects helps me to focus on the task at hand and be more efficient. In order to more effectively block out my time, closing my email and setting an autoresponder to reply to all incoming emails serves two purposes: 

  1. Lets those trying to get in touch with me know that I only check my email at certain times of the day and that my response may not be immediate — tempering their expectations of when they might hear from me.
  2. Relieves my personal stress of being tethered to my inbox, splitting my focus, and also saves the time of having to initially respond to each email individually. 

This is just one simple way to use automation in your email, although there are many others to explore.

While Zapier isn’t the only workflow automation service on the market, it’s probably the most well known. Workflow automation reduces time spent on mind-numbing, repetitive tasks and helps designers connect apps that might not natively work together. Do you keep a task list in Todoist? Set up a Zap, then create a task in Todoist anytime someone mentions you on Asana or assigns you a task in Trello.

This is especially helpful for freelance designers who work with multiple clients across various project management platforms. The potential for automation to relieve unnecessary mental overhead for designers is nearly limitless.

Don’t be Afraid of AI, Embrace It

The bottom line of this brief overview of artificial intelligence and automation in design is that this emerging technology isn’t something designers should be scared of. In fact, it’s something to welcome with open arms because ultimately it can make our jobs, and our lives, better. Leave the monotonous tasks of collecting and analysing huge amounts of data or administrative minutiae to the machines; they can handle it.

Save the interesting, creative, abstract work for the talented designers who can turn AI recommendations into unique and intuitive digital experiences. Making the relationship between artificial intelligence and design symbiotic will yield the best results for every entity involved: the business, the AI, and yes, even the designer.

 

Featured image via Unsplash.

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Source de l’article sur Webdesignerdepot

SAP partenaire des DesCodeuses pour augmenter le nombre de femmes dans la tech

SAP annonce accompagner la prochaine promotion des DesCodeuses, association engagée au service des femmes et des territoires. Par ce partenariat SAP entend renforcer son action en faveur de l’augmentation du nombre de femmes dans le secteur de la Tech. SAP apporte son expertise et le volontariat de ses collaborateurs engagés sur l’égalité et la mixité.

Depuis sa création en 2017, l’association DesCodeuses a pour mission d’informer, sensibiliser et de développer le pouvoir d’agir des femmes des quartiers prioritaires en les outillant, en les formant et en les accompagnant vers les métiers du numérique.

Depuis 2019, l’association a créé sa propre formation de développeuse / conceptrice permettant à des femmes de développer des compétences techniques, métiers et la confiance en soi. Après le succès de la première promotion, les DesCodeuses continue son aventure cette année avec SAP comme parrain de sa promotion « Katherine Johnson », physicienne, mathématicienne et ingénieure spatiale.

« Avec ce partenariat, l’association profitera de l’expérience et de l’expertise d’un des leaders mondiaux de la tech pour accompagner et mentorer nos étudiantes. SAP et les DesCodeuses ont cet ADN commun avec une culture de la mixité et du développement des femmes dans le monde de l’IT. Les parcours exemplaires de femmes chez SAP seront inspirants pour nos candidates de la promotion Katherine », explique Souad Boutegrabet, CEO et fondatrice des DesCodeuses

Membre du comité de sélection des futurs candidates, SAP accompagnera également l’association au travers de :

  • Mécénat de compétences : les collaborateurs de SAP partageront leurs connaissances du milieu de la tech et accompagneront les femmes de la promotion. Au programme : des ateliers de Design Thinking, des cafés virtuels, des session tech et des simulations d’entretiens d’emploi.
  • « Women role model » : les talents féminins de SAP témoigneront sur leur parcours, métier et challenges. Une occasion unique d’appréhender le monde de l’entreprise et celui de la tech sous le prisme féminin et découvrir les multiples enjeux technologiques des organisations : ressources humaines, ventes, IA…
  • Hackathon : Pour stimuler les étudiantes à élaborer un projet tech ambitieux, SAP et les DesCodeuses organiseront pour la première fois un hackathon.

Ces sessions et activités font écho avec les différentes actions et objectifs que s’est déjà fixés SAP sur son engagement pour la mixité au sein de son entreprise.

« Être le parrain d’une promotion des DesCodeuses, entièrement composée de femmes est un message fort et encourageant dans notre combat pour la mixité au sein de SAP. Je suis ravi que les collaborateurs SAP soient si engagés, volontaires et motivés pour accompagner ces talents au féminin qui, peut-être, se retrouveront un jour dans le bureau d’à côté. L’ensemble de nos actions menées avec les DesCodeuses permettront de mettre en lumière l’expertise et le savoir-faire nécessaires pour travailler dans une entreprise du monde du numérique » explique Erik Marcadé, directeur R&D de SAP France

The post SAP partenaire des DesCodeuses pour augmenter le nombre de femmes dans la tech appeared first on SAP France News.

Source de l’article sur sap.com

Editors’ Picks: Summer 2020


Agile 

AI

Big Data

Cloud

Database

DevOps

Integration

  • Mulesoft 4: Continuous Delivery/Deployment With Maven by Ashok S — This article is a great example of what we want every tutorial to look like on DZone. The main aim of this article is to provide a standard mechanism to release project artifacts and deploy to Anypoint Platform, from the local machine or configure in continuous delivery pipelines.
  • Integration With Social Media Platforms Series (Part 1) by Sravan Lingam — This article helps you to build a RESTful API through MuleSoft that integrates with LinkedIn and shares a post on behalf of one’s personal account. I like this article because, in the age of social media, it’s so important for businesses to be connected and integrated!

IoT

Java

Microservices

Open Source

Performance

  • What Is Big O Notation? by Huyen Pham — Aside from a silly name, this article is an example of an in-depth analysis on a little-spoken-about concept. In this article, take a look at a short guide to get to know Big O Notation and its usages.
  • Is Python the Future of Programming? by Shormisthsa Chatterjee — Where is programming going? This article attempts to answer this question in a well-rounded way. The author writes, "Python will be the language of the future. Testers will have to upgrade their skills and learn these languages to tame the AI and ML tools".

Security

Web Dev

  • A Better Way to Learn Python by Manas Dash: There’s so many resources available for learning Python — so many that it’s difficult to find a good and flexible place to start. Check out Manas’ curated list of courses, articles, projects, etc. to get your Python journey started today. 
  • Discovering Rust by Joaquin Caro: I’m a sucker for good Rust content, as there’s still so many gaps in what’s available. Joaquin does a great job of giving readers his perspective of the language’s features in a way that traditional docs just 

Source de l’article sur DZONE

How to Design the Perfect Developer Portfolio

As a freelance web developer, how many clients do you get from your website? If you’re like most, you’re probably lucky to get one client every 2-3 months. Unfortunately, that’s very common.

These days it’s not enough just to be a web developer if you want to make really good money. You have to be able to differentiate yourself in the marketplace to get more opportunities. If you can do this successfully, I’m 100% sure that it will help you win more projects and charge higher rates.

So today I’d like to share with you a little bit of my own story. In the last 4 months, I was able to position myself as a specialist with my personal site that ultimately helped me win more projects and get better clients.

The Importance of Niching Down

The first thing that I would invite you to do is to shift your thinking a little bit.

If you want to be a high-paid professional (especially if you’re a freelancer), you need to learn how to market and sell yourself. And the first rule of marketing is to identify your target audience and the result that you help them achieve.

I can’t over emphasize the importance of this.

You need to know exactly who you help and the outcome that you provide. That is ultimately what you get paid for. So you need to define your ideal client.

My suggestion is to pick a market segment that you would love to work with, that has the money to afford you and (ideally) those that have already done some projects for. Once you have identified your target market, you need to create your positioning statement. Your positioning statement should immediately tell who you help and what results you help them achieve.

Here is a formula that you can use to create your positioning statement:

I help __ (target audience) __ do (build/achieve/overcome) ___ (problem that you help them solve).

For example: I help startup SaaS companies build highly converting websites. You can go even narrower if you want, but this is already much better than just saying, “I’m a web developer.”

If your positioning statement is “I help startup SaaS companies build highly converting websites” it can still be narrowed down and improved. As you gain more experience and work with more clients, you can refine it to something like: “I help healthcare SaaS companies build highly converting websites.”

Now imagine if a SaaS startup founder from a healthcare niche came to your site and saw that positioning statement vs a very generic one like “I’m a web developer”. How much easier would it be for you to differentiate yourself and gain a huge advantage over your competitors in the marketplace?

4 Elements of a Perfect Landing Page

“I am passionate about coding, I have 10+ years of experience, client satisfaction is my main goal…” 

Have you ever seen statements like that on someone’s portfolio site? Or maybe it even says that on your own site. From my experience, statements like that don’t really help you convert site visitors into customers.

If you personally go to a company’s website, what would you like to see yourself as a visitor? Somebody saying how good they are, or to find out if they can be a good fit to solve your problem? I think that most of the time the latter is what you’re after. That’s what other people usually go to your website for; they want to know how you can help them solve their problems.

For instance, take a look at this section from Tom Hirst’s website:

As you can see, this immediately helps the visitors understand if Tom is a good fit for them or not. He doesn’t just boast about how good he is, but rather helps the client understand what problems he can solve for them. Another important part here is that Tom doesn’t use a lot of technical terms. Since a lot of his visitors may be not as tech-savvy as he is, there is no point in confusing them with technical jargon. The more you can speak their language – the easier it will be for you to build trust and connection that will later help you during the sales process.

Let me tell you a bit about the 4 parts of my site that I think have contributed significantly to having me win more projects. The 4 elements are problem, solution, proof, and call to action. Let me go over them 1 by 1 and explain why they’re important.

1. Problem

A good way to start your landing page sales letter is by identifying the problem of the client. If you know their pain points and you mention them, you should be able to hook them into reading your copy. And a well-written copy plays a significant role in persuading your visitors to take the next action.

2. Solution

Once you have mentioned their problem, you need to present them with a solution that you provide. You need to show them how working with you can solve their problems. Whatever their problems are, you have to show them that you understand them and can help solve them.

That’s what UX designer Matt Oplinski is doing on his website is doing. He knows that his clients might need help with 3 types of projects: Digital Products, Marketing Websites or Mobile Apps. For example, the clients who are seeking a redesign of their website may have an issue with their current conversion rates. And that’s exactly what Matthew lists in the middle section under “Custom Marketing Website” headline. I would even argue that he may have been a bit more specific with the solutions that he can offer.

The main takeaway here is that it’s important to be very specific with the result that you can help your clients achieve. The more accurate it is, the better it is going to convert.

3. Social Proof

Social proof plays an extremely important role in converting a lead into a customer. When someone comes to your site, they don’t know if they can trust you. If they were to spend one, two, five, ten or even more thousand dollars – they need to feel comfortable with you. They need to have at least some level of trust. That’s why they want to see as many signs as possible that you’re trustworthy.

Social proof obviously can come in many different forms. The most popular and important ones, in my opinion, are case studies with results that you’ve produced and testimonials. They will be absolutely crucial to persuade your clients and be able to differentiate yourself from others.

Here is a good example from Bill Erickson’s site:

Ideally, your testimonials should showcase a particular business goal that you’ve helped your client to achieve. But even if you don’t have those, you can use ordinary testimonials that your clients give you. That alone is better than no testimonials at all.

4. Call to Action

Last but not least you should have a single call to action on your site. Most likely it will be a button to contact you, or book a call with you.

In my opinion, it’s important to have a single call to action because if you give people too many options they will not be so focused on taking an action that you actually want them to take.

I also suggest that you have a call to action button at least 2-3 times on the page: one on the first screen where you have your positioning statement and/or your offer, and one at the very bottom of the page so that when they finish reading they don’t need to go back to the top to take action. Having another call to action in the middle of your page is also a good idea. My advice would be to add it after you’ve described the problem, your solution and presented yourself as someone who can help your leads with their problems.

Results

I started niching down and created my own website four months ago. Being a member of multiple freelance platforms, I’ve been fortunate enough to get enough leads in my target market to test out my strategy. So far the results are pretty amazing.

It has become a lot easier for me to win projects, get clients that respect my knowledge, and my process. Besides that, I’ve been able to significantly increase my rates for my work. A great thing about working with similar projects every time is that you automate and streamline a lot of things, improve your delivery process and become much more efficient. You can even create a productized service. This is something that is very hard to achieve if you’re constantly working on custom projects that have different requirements and involve different technologies.

To be completely transparent, I’m still in the process of building my authority in the niche, polishing my offer and gaining experience. I still have a long way to go. What I can certainly say today is that it has been one of the best decisions in my professional career.

To become a high paying professional in your industry you have to do things differently. Today I tried to show you one of the ways that you can improve your career or freelancing business fast. It probably won’t happen overnight, but in a matter of a few months you can be so much ahead of your competition if you deploy some of the strategies that I’ve shared with you today.

I really hope that this article has helped you gain some perspective and you will start to consider doing a similar thing that I did to achieve amazing results.

 

Featured image via Unsplash.

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5 Tips for Designing One-Page Websites That Work

Smart design choices can help reduce the fatigue and frustration people would otherwise feel when using the web.

There are a lot of ways web designers can minimize distractions, information overload, and analysis paralysis. For instance, designing with abundant white space, shorter snippets of text, and calming color palettes all work.

One-page websites might be another design choice worth exploring.

When done right, a single-page website could be very useful in creating a simpler and more welcoming environment for today’s overwhelmed consumers.

With its diminutive structure, it would leave a unique and memorable impression on visitors. What’s more, a well-crafted one-page website would provide visitors with a clean, narrow, and logical pathway to conversion.

For those of you who use BeTheme’s pre-built sites (or are thinking about adopting them for your next site), there’s good news. In addition to the great selection of traditionally structured sites available, Be also has single-page websites for you to work with.

So, the technical aspects you’d need to master to get the one-page formula right are already taken care of.

Let’s have a look at some of the features that make single-page websites shine and how you can design them:

1. Give Visitors a Succinct Journey Through the Website and Brand’s Story

The typical business websites you design include pages like Home, About, and Contact, as well as pages that explain the company’s services or sell their products. Unless you’re building really long sales landing pages, there’s usually about 400 to 600 words on each page.

That’s still a lot of content for your visitors to get through and it can make perusing a single website an overwhelming experience. Imagine how they feel about reading through all that content when they have to do it multiple times when comparing other websites and options.

In some cases, this multi-page website structure is overkill. The information you’d otherwise fill a full page with can easily be edited down to fit a single pane or block on a one-page website and still be as useful.

Like how design and development studio Pixel Lab does it:

Pixel Lab

Notice how all the key points are hit in a concise and visually attractive manner:

  • The Featured Work portfolio
  • The About Us introduction
  • The FAQs
  • The contact form

The BeCV pre-built site is built in a similar manner (and for a similar purpose, too):

BeCV

Just remember to keep a sticky navigation bar present at all times so visitors know exactly how much content there is on the page.

2. Opt For a Non-Traditional Navigation for a Uniquely Memorable Experience

Typically, the rule is that website navigation should follow one of two patterns:

  • Logo on the left, navigation links on the right.
  • Logo on the left, hamburger menu storing the navigation on the right (for mobile or desktop).

There are a number of reasons why this layout is beneficial. Ultimately, it comes down to the predictability and comfort of having a navigation be right where visitors expect it, no matter where they end up on your website.

However, with a single-page website, this is one of those rules you can bend, so long as you have a way to keep the navigation ever-present and easy to use.

There are some great examples of one-page sites that have done this, usually opting for a stylized left-aligned sidebar that contains links to the various parts of the page. Purple Orange is just one of them:

Purple Orange

And you can use a Be pre-built site like BeHairdresser to create a similar navigation for your website:

BeHairdresser

If you’re trying to make a bold brand stand out, this is a neat layout option to experiment with.

3. Tell a More Visually Striking Story

One of the problems with building a website with WordPress is that you always have to worry about how your design decisions affect speed. Even once the code is optimized, images are usually the low-hanging fruit that have to be dealt with.

But when your website only contains one page, this means images aren’t as much of a problem (so long as you compress and resize them). It’s only when you continue to add pages, products, and galleries that you have to scale back your visual content.

So, if your brand has a strong visual identity and you want the website to show that off through images, a one-page website is a great place to do it.

Just remember to keep a good balance between text and images as Vodka A does:

Vodka A

There’s no reason for a liquor distribution company to mince words when the elegant product photos effectively communicate to consumers what it’s all about.

In fact, this image-heavy, single-page style would work well for any vendor selling a small inventory of products: food, beverages, subscription boxes, health and beauty products, etc. And you can use the pre-built BeBistro to carefully craft it:

BeBistro

4. Turn a Complex Business Idea or Offering into Something Simple to Understand

When a company sells a technical or complex solution to consumers, it can be a real struggle to explain what it does and why they should buy it.

But here’s the thing: Consumers don’t really care about all that technical stuff. Even if you were to explain how an app worked or how you use a software like Sketch or WordPress to design a website, their eyes would glaze over.

What matters most to them is that you have an effective and affordable solution that they can trust. So, why bog them down with page after page of technical specs and sales jargon?

A one-page website enables you to simplify even the most complex of solutions.

Take Critical TechWorks, for instance. It offers an advanced technological solution for the automobile industry…and, yet, this is all it needs to explain the technology at work:

Critical Techworks

If your website’s visitors are more concerned with the outcomes rather than the “how”, you’d do well to make the website and content as easy to digest as possible. And you can use a pre-built site like BeCourse to do that:

BeCourse

Notice how both of these sites take visitors through a small handful of sections (pages) before delivering them to the main attraction: the contact or sign-up form.

5. Capture Leads and Sales at Different Stages of the Sales Funnel

Some of your visitors will be brand new to the site and need more information before they pull the trigger. Others will already have a good idea of what they’re getting into and just need one small push to get them to take action.

With a single-page website, you can design each section to cater to the different kinds of leads and prospects that arrive there.

The top sections should be introductory in nature, providing new visitors with information they need to decide if this is an option worth pursuing. The sections further below should drill down into the remaining questions or concerns that interested prospects have.

Regardless of which section they’re looking at, your one-page site will have CTA buttons built in along the way that drive them to conversion the second they’re ready.

This will enable your site to always be prepared to convert leads, whether visitors read the first two sections or make their way through all of them until they reach the conversion point (e.g. a contact form, a checkout page, etc.).

You’ll find a nice example of this on the Cycle website, with CTAs strategically placed along the single-page’s design:

Cycle

BePersonalTrainer is a good pre-built site option if you want to ensure that you include a CTA button at the perfect stopping points throughout your page:

BePersonalTrainer

You won’t find them at the bottom of every section, but that’s okay. You just need them whenever your visitors are seriously thinking about taking action.

What Should You Build: A Multi-Page or One-Page Website?

Although a single-page website won’t work for larger websites (especially in ecommerce), it could work well for business websites that are on the smaller side to begin with.

By centralizing all of that information into a single page, you’ll create a fresh experience that wows visitors with how succinct yet powerful both the message and offering are.

Just be careful. Many single-page websites are poorly done (which is probably why they fell out of fashion for a while).

Remember: This is not your chance to throw web design rules out the window. In fact, this will be an opportunity to clear out the fluff and the clutter that’s accumulated over the years and to return to a more scaled-back and classic approach to design.

And with the help of Be’s pre-built one-page websites, it won’t require much work on your part to make that happen.

 

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

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The Latest Research for Web Designers, September 2020

In today’s look at the latest research for web designers, we’re going to look at studies and reports from Payoneer, Robert Half, Hootsuite, and Contentsquare to see what they have to say about things like:

  • Current freelancer demand
  • Web designer earning potential
  • A change in ecommerce shopping trends
  • Unseen content rates

1. There’s Light At the End of the COVID-19 Tunnel for Freelancers

Payoneer’s The State of Freelancing During COVID-19 had to take a different approach to reporting on the freelancer workforce than in years passed.

Here’s why:

When 1000+ freelancers around the globe were asked how demand for their services changed during COVID-19, this was the response:

Less than 17% of freelancers experienced an increase in demand for their services and less than 23% saw demand remain the same.

An overwhelming majority of freelancers experienced a shrink in demand, with nearly 29% saying it slightly decreased while almost 32% said it greatly decreased.

However, the data collected wasn’t just assessed on a global scale. Payoneer also looked at freelancing demand trends in various parts of the world:

Notice the differences between Asia and Australia (who were hit with COVID-19 earlier) and North America and Europe (where the pandemic arrived a little later).

It appears as though Asian and Australian freelancers are, economically speaking, already starting to feel the effects of recovery from the pandemic with demand working in their favor.

So, if you’re feeling like there’s no end to the hardships you’ve faced during COVID-19, and were considering dropping your prices, hold on for just a little bit longer. Freelancers are starting to feel optimistic about demand for their services increasing. If you go devaluing yourself now, it’ll be hard to return to where you were before COVID-19 when things get back to normal.

2. Robert Half’s Salary Guide Breaks Down the Earning Potential for Web Designers

On a related note, let’s talk about demand from the employer’s point of view.

According to Robert Half’s 2020 Salary Guide for creative marketing professionals, there’s big demand for digital talent:

So, that’s number one. We know that almost 50% of hiring managers feel as though their digital teams are inadequately staffed. That’s good news for web designers.

However, these same managers complain about creative marketing professionals’ lack of up-to-date skills as the biggest barrier to hiring or retaining them. Although the report doesn’t say so, I’m going to assume this refers both to employees as well as contractors.

This should be a no-brainer. By keeping up with the latest web design trends and techniques, you can make top-dollar for your services — and hold onto those valuable client relationships for a long time.

According to the report, this is how much you stand to earn working in web design (in the U.S.) today:

If you’re eyeballing those salaries in the 95th percentile, then you know what you need to do. Hiring managers have spoken up about what’s holding them back from hiring.

For those of you who feel as though you’ve gone as far as you can as a web designer, it might be worth exploring a new specialty. Like one of the following:

As you can see, designers in the UI, UX, and interactive space (along with web developers) have the opportunity to make more money, even earlier on in their careers. You may also find that more job opportunities are available as you move into these niches (because of less competition), which might cut down on any demand issues you’ve been experiencing because of COVID-19.

3. Hootsuite’s Digital 2020 Report Reveals an Interesting Trend in Ecommerce

Hootsuite’s Digital 2020 report is always a great resource for learning about social media marketing trends. That said, that’s not why I read it.

It’s for hidden gems like these:

It’s no surprise that we’re seeing changes in retail and ecommerce during COVID-19. What is a surprise, however, is how consumers’ online shopping habits have changed.

Here’s what we’re seeing when we compare 2020 ecommerce data with the pre-COVID benchmarks:

Site visits are 1.7% lower than expected. That would make sense considering how budget-conscious consumers are right now. It likely keeps them from going on unnecessary shopping sprees.

Session durations are 3.3% lower. This could be related to fewer site visits. It might also indicate greater consumer confidence. If they come to a website with a plan for what they need to buy, they’re going to take a straight line to conversion instead of spending time window shopping that prolongs their session.

The number of transactions is 19.1% higher and the conversion rate is 21.6% higher. Considering shoppers aren’t spending as much time with ecommerce websites, this point suggests that there’s a massive shift happening from in-store shopping to online shopping.

If that’s the case (even if consumers are currently spending less money), that means web designers need to set their sights on the ecommerce space. With the holiday shopping season expected to start sooner rather than later this year, now is the time to get in there and make sure these sites provide as streamlined an experience as possible.

4. Contentsquare Studies the Unseen Content Rates By Industry

Contentsquare analyzed more than 7 billion user sessions globally to create the 2020 Digital Experience Benchmarks report.

There’s some interesting data in here about website traffic and conversion trends, but what I find the most valuable is the breakdown by industry.

It was this chart, in particular, that really caught my eye:

According to Contentsquare’s data, between 60% and 75% of a website’s content is unseen. Some industries fare better than others, like home supplies and luxury retailer websites, but the numbers still aren’t flattering.

For example, what does it mean when consumers miss 75% of a financial service provider’s content?

Does this mean that the financial advisory content — which I’m assuming comprises the bulk of the pages on the site — is useless or irrelevant? Or perhaps it’s an issue of discoverability since blog content and other resources often take a backseat to service and product promotion?

What about ecommerce brands in the apparel or beauty space?

If two-thirds of their pages are unseen, does that mean their websites are overrun with obsolete inventory? Or, again, is it an issue of navigability and discoverability around the store?

As a web designer, I’d suggest performing your own unseen content analysis on the websites you’ve built. If over 60% of your pages never get any views, you’re going to have to decide what to do with them:

Option 1: Fix the navigation or search function so people can actually find these unseen pages.

Option 2: Remove them from the site and make room for content your visitors actually find valuable.

Wrap-Up

As you encounter research and reports online — whether it’s written specifically for web designers or other creative professionals — spend some time looking for hidden gems.

As you can see above, there’s a ton of relevant research for web designers out there, even if it’s hiding behind the mask of a larger issue or matter. And it’s this data that will help you get a leg up on the competition since it’ll get you thinking about your business and your approach to design in different ways.

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Should We Be Designing For Voice?

Voice is one aspect of technology that is getting bigger and bigger, and showing little sign of relenting. In fact, 2019 data revealed that 22% of UK households owned a voice-controlled digital home assistant device such as an Amazon Echo or Google home. This is double the figure recorded in 2017 and it is predicted that over the next five years nearly 50% of all homes will have one. Smart home adoption rates are increasing, and it shows how voice control is something we are all becoming more accustomed to.

With these high figures, does it follow that voice should be something web designers build into sites? Or is it merely a gimmick that will die out and render sites with hardware and complex design issues? You only have to look at the failed introduction of Google glass to see that certain technological advancements don’t always have the outcome that might be expected.

Multiple Voices

One of the first issues with voice is establishing whether you want sites to recognise everyone’s voices, or just those who have registered. If you’re using the site in a crowded room will it pick up on snippets of conversation from others and think these are instructions? Google Home has a feature whereby you have to register your voice with its app to use more personalised features such as the shopping list. Is this the sort of thing websites would need?

Accents

The implementation of voice is complex, not only does it need to understand certain languages (such as English), but all the accents and variations too. With 160 English dialects alone, that is a lot that the technology needs to understand – not including mispronunciations, slang, and colloquialisms. Also, if a site is used all over the world (which many are) how many languages will it need to know?

Privacy Issues

if there are clips of your voice out there on the web…it can easily be imitated

If a website involves a feature such as online shopping or other functions which require sensitive details to be input, this could put people off using voice. Users need to know where this saved data is being stored, how it will be used and if it is secure. In 2018, HMRC had signed up about 6.7 million people to its voice ID service and HSBC said over 10,000 were registering each week. This shows many trust the service, but experts say that if there are clips of your voice out there on the web (such as in a podcast) it can easily be imitated. Bringing with it security and privacy issues.

According to futurologist Dr Ian Pearson, who invented the text message back in 1991, it won’t be long until we can complete a financial transaction with just a few words and a gesture. This can be a time-saver for things such as online shopping, but we need to ensure there are the correct security steps in place.

Users Don’t Talk The Way They Type

When speaking we tend to use shortened and more colloquial language as opposed to when we type. The voice function on a website will need to be able to adapt for this. One example is if you are filling in a form or comment box by voice for a website, you will need to tell it what to punctuate, letting it know where to add a comma, exclamation mark etc.

Website Processes Need to be Simpler

With the web as we use it now, we often browse through pages, reading other snippets of information before clicking through to the page we want. With voice recognition it will cut out these middle steps. For example, if you are looking for a recipe of something specific, you will just say the command “Show me the … recipe” and it will take you straight there. This direct access to what we are looking for could lead to a simplification of websites.

Regular Updates

With websites as they are now, they need updates semi-regularly, depending on how they are built, how complex they are, and what features we have built into them. A voice-based site will need updating regularly, whether to add new words or processes or to keep up with the fast-adapting technology. It might end up being quite a complex process.

Mistrust

While there are more of us now than ever using voice control via tech such as Alexa, Google, and Siri, there is still a level of mistrust over it. It’s still not quite clear where data is being stored, if it is being stored, and how easy it could be to abuse.

Larger Storage and Bandwidth

If a site is built for voice, will it utilise a ready-built plugin or will it have its own software built by developers? Will this feature require a greater amount of storage and bandwidth to cope with it? These are further factors to consider when thinking of the future of implementing voice to websites.

We Still Don’t Know Where It Will Go

Voice technology while working in some respects, is still a bit of a grey area when it comes to future use. Will it be the next big thing as many have predicted, or will it simply die down?

Look at Google Glass – highlighted as the big new technology, they soon died down and were eventually discontinued. Smart watches were another thing. You can see their initial downfall by reading an article published in 2017 about smartwatches – how major smartwatch makers such as Apple and Samsung rushed into the market before the technology was ready and they subsequently failed. Motorola exited the smartwatch market, Pebble and Jawbone shut down and Fitbit sold 2.3 million fewer devices than in their previous quarter. It was perceived as being a fad. However, fast forward to 2020 and more people than ever are wearing and using smartwatches. The smartwatch market was valued at shipment volumes of 47.34 million in 2019 and is expected to reach 117.51 by 2025, reaching a growth of 15.4 over the next five years.

Will voice follow a similar trend?

No More Impulse Buying

People enjoy browsing websites and many businesses rely on user’s impulse buying and ask their websites to be designed to reflect this. With voice taking you directly to the page’s users want to find, will they bypass these potential selling traps and just buy what they want – rather than added extras? Will it end up being a negative for businesses and see users not as satisfied for the experience?

Voiceless Still Matters

You will also have to remember that not all devices might work with voice, or people might be browsing somewhere where voice cannot be used. This means in the design process it needs to work both for voice instruction and manual use. It needs to work just as well for both to ensure the customer journey isn’t affected.

There are many ways voice can affect how we design websites in the upcoming future. It’s important to take note of market trends and usage – seeing how people use voice and thinking of the customer journey. It’s vital we don’t forget the end goals of websites – whether it’s to inform or to sell, the implementation of voice needs to assist this process not make it harder.

 

Featured image via Unsplash.

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