Tag Archive for: web design

8 Effective Web Design Principles

If you read around you will come to realize that the approaches to effective web design principles don’t vary much from one source to the other. The simple explanation is that conventions are a good thing and there is no need to reinvent the wheel. That is not to say your website can’t have bells and whistles (although the need for them is debatable). The core principles of web creation don’t address details, but mandatory basics.

Define the Purpose of Your Website

Before collecting advice, tips and how tos, take the time to precisely define the purpose of your site. Why do you need one? (Do you need one?) What do you expect from the visitors (buy, subscribe, interact).

If you want to build a website just because it seems like the right thing to do in this digital age, save yourself some money. A site is not a virtual business card, its purpose is to provide the users with an experience that produces results for you and satisfaction for them. In other words, forget what you like and want and switch to user-centric mode. The fundamentals of effective web design are indeed revolving around the visitors.

Core Design Principles of Effective Web Design

The way users browse the internet has changed and so have their expectations. You may have a great offer, a beautiful product or a one-of-a-kind service, it’s useless if haphazardly laid out or if information is hard to reach.

Site Map

Users have become used to sites working a certain way. While a website can still be distinctive and original, navigation should always be logical, intuitive and seamless. An effective web design shows only as many pages as is truly necessary. Don’t think that the more pages you have, the longer they will browse your content.

Usability

Right along with navigation, usability tops the list of items that deserve your full attention. Users want to go from one page to the next as easily and quickly as possible. Keep it simple. Make it easy to recognize hyperlinks, find contact tabs or forms.

Layout

This is one of the key tenants of effective web design – users like to understand what they see at first glance. If they have to squint to find relevant information or pull back to take it all in, they will likely make their visit a short one. Focus on the flow, make sure elements are aligned and don’t shy away from white space.

Text Content

High quality, relevant content scores bigger than fancy animation and takes precedence over color scheme and interactivity. The consumer comes to your web site in a quest for answers, with the hopes you can answer a specific need. (Keep an eye on text to HTML ratio).

Visual Content

Pictures and videos play a huge role in effective web design only if they offer relevant support to quality content. Should there be too many and you will lose the user’s interest. It goes without saying all visual elements you deem necessary should be optimized.

Behind the Scenes Web Design Principles

A lot more goes towards improving the user’s experience than graphic design and friendly navigation. To make the most of your site and reap the conversion rewards you need to tirelessly work on optimization.

Responsiveness

If browsing your site on a mobile device is frustrating, counter intuitive and near impossible, you might as well close it down and start over. Traffic originating from mobile is consistently growing. Your website must be responsive across all devices.

Speed

You have only a few seconds to spare before a visitor click the “close tab”. The digital age has spoiled us and patience is no longer part of our process. Your customers expect instant rewards, a fast loading page due to effective web design is one of those.

Testing

Testing, fixing and testing again. The ultimate principle to follow to ensure your site is functioning properly, provides a satisfactory experience and bears no major flaw: speed, responsiveness, links, images, code. Test everything, starting early.

Effective web design goes beyond the mere visual beauty of it. From concept to creation, always keep the purpose and the user in sight. If usability conflicts with your own personal taste, choose wisely. Internet users are demanding and not very forgiving.

5 Reasons Why You Shouldn’t Use a Free WordPress Theme

At first, a free WordPress theme for your blog may seem like a simple and effective way to garner attention and attract customers to your products. It’s true that there are a lot of color and layout combinations, and given the advantage of saving money, it’s easy to see why a free theme might be the way to go. However, a free wordpress theme will actually end up hindering you in the long run due to opportunity costs.  If you’re thinking about a free wordpress theme, before you finalize that choice, here are some things you should definitely consider.

A Free WordPress Theme is Not Unique

A free WordPress theme has already been created and made available to everyone. If you decide to go with a free WordPress theme, another business has also probably selected the same theme. More than likely, several other businesses have also selected the same theme. If you’re looking to make your business stand out, you want to make sure that your products, services, and platforms stand out from the competition. Consider a list of the top 50 free WordPress themes: big picture background, words laid over it. Impressive, right? Think again.

A Free WordPress Theme is Not Personal

Along the same vein, it is distinction and brand distinguishing that wins in marketing. If your product and platform looks the same as everyone else’s, it doesn’t matter if you’re offering superior quality. Branding requires a personalized touch that clearly separates your business from others, complete with qualities and features customers can’t find anywhere else. A free WordPress theme is not made with your vision in mind, and therefore has no ability to convey that vision, quality of service, dependability, or system of values. It’s a generic template with no life or personality.

A Free WordPress Theme Indicates Little to No Effort

If you settle for a free WordPress theme, it suggests to your customers that the products and services you provide are nothing special (see distinction). If you have a generic, basic platform, potential customers probably think your company is also generic and basic. If customers don’t believe you care to present and support your products thoroughly, they certainly won’t care to invest their money in those products. You didn’t invest in your own product. Why would they? A customer would no doubt prefer to see commitment and control. Speaking of control:

A Free WordPress Theme Offers Less Flexibility

A free WordPress theme comes completely set-up, right out of the box. As mentioned earlier, it lacks personalization, and you are limited in your ability to add to this. You have a limited ability to tailor it to your needs, and if you do so it’s at your own risk. What does this mean? Well, if for whatever reason you end up having difficulty, you’re on your own for the most part. That’s never good. Furthermore, you become reliant on plugins or add on packages, which may or may not be available, in order to stay up to date and secure. Essentially, it’s like buying a car, except you only get half of the trunk space, have to rely on maintenance to come to you on their schedule when something breaks, and you never get to look under the hood to make any real modifications. Would you drive a car like that?

A Free WordPress Theme Offers Poor Search Engine Optimization

This last heading is misleading. A free WordPress theme doesn’t really offer search engine optimization(SEO) to begin with. That is up to your business, your marketing department, etc. However, when you consider the previous points about personalization, customization, and the lack of support, it becomes clear how difficult SEO is when working with a free WordPress theme. Sound bad? It gets worse. When it comes to websites and hosting in general, the thing about free themes is that there is often some kind of cost in trade, usually in the form of a plug. Somewhere in the html, there’s likely to be advertising- only it’ll be advertising WordPress, rather than your business. That plug won’t help you climb search rankings. In fact, it will definitely hurt your rankings.

All in all, a free WordPress theme is not going to do enough for your business when you consider all the costs and limitations that come with it. Not convinced? Take a look at a comparison between a free theme and its premium counterpart. Even setting functionality aside, perception is king; having a custom made platform well tailored to the specifics of your company increases your image rather than taking away from it. In the long run, you’re better off with a professional, personalized website that is continuously customizable and upgradeable; one that fully expresses your vision and demonstrates quality of care and commitment to customers.

5 WordPress Website Themes To Use In 2016

Finding a needle in a haystack might seem easier than choosing from the staggering collection of available WordPress website themes. That job becomes a lot easier with careful consideration of your website’s purpose and priorities. Use this rundown of features in five important WordPress website themes to determine what’s best for your site.

5 important WordPress website themes

While WordPress website themes come in free and premium editions, those listed here are all premium. Due to their price point, there is a glut of websites using free themes, while a premium theme offers more features and customization to set your site apart. Customer support is multifaceted for premium themes, including email, chat and public forums. Premium themes are updated more often, usually periodically, so security issues are identified and patched.

1. Avada

Avada

Avada by Theme Fusion is one of the best-selling WordPress website themes, known for excellent customer support. The visual page builder allows for fast and easy customizing with no coding necessary. Avada offers full responsiveness, optimized speed, auto theme updates and 2D/3D layered sliders. It has five custom headers, a built in SEO plug-in, and is optimized for speed.

2. X Theme

X by Themeco is one of the most customizable WordPress website themes available due to its stacks, which are four exclusive designs in one, rather than a few standard layouts. Drag and drop page builders make everything customizable without coding, including logo, font, color, menus, sidebars and headers. The live previewer ends the need to constantly refresh, granting intuitive front-end editing. Along with SEO readiness, X also brings custom extensions, Responsive Visibility, and optimized speed.

3. Enfold

Enfold

Enfold by Kriesi has been called one of the most user friendly WordPress website themes out there, with 18 predefined skins for non-coders to insert their own information. The drag and drop templates support customizing layouts, typography and color, with options for audio and video. Enfold is optimized for SEO, high resolution, and 2D/3D layers. It is responsive for any size screen and optimized for speed.

4. Jupiter

Jupiter by Artbees is known as a one size fits all WordPress website theme. Now on version 5, Jupiter’s modular composition, reduced file size and total number of files have improved the loading times. Users find numerous drag and drop variations for customizing layouts, headers, post types and content importers as well as a background customiser using color gradients. Features include SEO readiness, Edge Slideshow, adaptable responsiveness, and 50 templates.

5. Salient

Salient

Salient by ThemeNectar is one of the most innovative WordPress website themes, giving websites a creative edge. The visually enhanced features include video backgrounds, sliders, and a custom homepage that lays out all parts of the website in an array. SEO compatible and speed optimized, Salient contains 350 icons and eight page layouts formatted for any size screen.

How to choose?

With so many features available in these WordPress website themes, pinpointing priorities can be difficult. Website speed should be near the top of your list; if your site takes too long to load, viewers will give up and Google will assign a low rating. Sluggish themes are characterized by an overload of features and too many large files. Focus on the features that best characterize your business, whether flashy background videos and sliders or simple customized colors and headers, and choose a theme that specializes in those particular components.

User experience goes hand-in-hand with speed, since the purpose of having a website is to attract users. Ease of use can make or break your site, so limit complicated features. Smashing Magazine suggests experimenting with demos to get a feel for each theme: “Do you get a headache looking at it? Does it excite you?” First impressions are important, and your first impression should be a positive one.

Just like looking at a model home, however, a theme demo can distract you with a beautiful set-up that has nothing to do with your needs. Look for demo features that will fit your purpose and content. Make sure positions and sizing of logos, headers and text blocks fit your requirements. A live preview admin area will allow you to test-drive the demo for a better idea of how it meets your specifications.

All of these WordPress website themes demonstrate SEO compatibility, responsiveness, optimized speed, customizable design and easy-to-use drag and drop options to various degrees. Your priorities and personal impressions will determine the best fit for your website (your needle in the haystack).

Do higher conversion rates depend on both SEO and CRO

Do higher conversion rates depend on SEO and CRO working hand in hand? Many digital marketers will focus on search engine optimization and let another team take care of what happens after a visitor landed on a page. Does it make sense? Are conversion rates not intimately related to SEO? Is CRO not depending on how well SEO professionals do their job?

Once upon a time, a CMO analyzed SEO results, while wondering if CRO was getting enough attention… Beyond the humor (and the alphabet soup that makes the marketing industry sound like government agencies), SEO and CRO should both equally take credit for higher conversion rates.

What do SEO and CRO share that can lead to higher conversion rates?

SEO, Search Engine Optimization, is the art of better ranking your pages on search engine results page (SERP).

CRO, Conversion Rate Optimization, is the art of transforming a visitor into a customer.

The 2 fields already have ⅓ in common: Optimization.

Both strategies work towards the same goal, albeit possibly not consciously. What would the benefit of ranking first (due to stellar SEO work) if once the visitors land on the page, they don’t purchase, subscribe, watch your video (whichever your conversion goal is)?

On the other hand, CRO done well means your site is a model of user experience, call to action is irresistible, products are efficiently displayed and testing is ongoing so you can constantly improve, yet the conversions don’t happen because nobody can find you.
Here is a perfect example of SEO/CRO collaboration gone awry.SEO and CRO

The search yielded a few results and the San Diego Tribune was ranked 4th. Not a bad performance, good enough that we’d want to check the content.

SEO done right. There was focus on keywords, meta description was good, the source reputable enough that we’d think they could provide useful information.

Obviously, all SEO factors were reunited so Google deemed it worthy to rank well.
Sadly, the content is gone. We won’t even spend time talking about the format, layout and uninviting navigation. Any visitor landing on such page feels cheated. And conversion is unlikely to happen (mainly because nothing happened that could convert anyone, be it merely to subscribe to a newsletter).
Higher conversion rates happen when SEO and CRO know what the other is doing. And let’s not forget that CRO can help SEO in more ways than we realize: acquiring customers, followers, viewers and subscribers, generating positive reviews and shares and traveling across social media will put a site on the SERP map.

Where do SEO and CRO meet?

Search Engine Optimization focuses on allowing access.SEO and CRO

Conversion Rate Optimization focuses on convincing to act.
The objective once a visitor finds a page is to give him the information he was searching in the first place. Both areas can find a compromise in good practices (why would you not want to insert the focus keyword that got you a prospect in your page content?).

Ultimately, SEO work is not over simply because CRO has to take over. Both fields have the user intent in mind. A site that doesn’t log satisfying conversions loses its purpose and SEO becomes a moot point.Let’s not forget that Google Analytics also measure engagement (such as time spent on a given landing page). That metric alone is proof that CRO is complementary to SEO. If the time spent is insignificant, a lot of hard work is lost.
Higher conversion rates do indeed depend on a collaboration between SEO and CRO. Visibility is one step towards conversion. Conversion is one step towards loyalty. By integrating practices and sharing credit, SEO and CRO focus on keeping customers to achieve what they both aim for: Optimization.

How to Identify ‘Not Provided’ Keywords in Google Analytics

In the SEO world where keywords play an important role, not being able to identify ‘not provided’ keywords in Google Analytics (the search terms that brought visitors to a site) is comparable to sailing through heavy fog. The imposed blindness weakens our performance and productivity. In the absence of actionable data, what can we do to gain some insight on what works? There are a handful of methods that help us get the information we need.

What are ‘Not Set’ Keywords in Google Analytics

not provided Google Analytics

Back in 2011, Google implemented a way to hide search terms issued from a secure connection linked to a Google account (Gmail, YouTube, Analytics, and a few more) in its Analytics reports. The move was officially motivated by privacy concerns: any query keyed in using the secure protocol “https://” would not reveal the keywords in Google Analytics Reports. In other words, it became impossible to identify true organic traffic to a website. (Since then, some browsers have defaulted to this standard).

keywords Google Analytics

The exception to the rule is that keywords associated with paid Google ads are exempt from the lockdown.

Between a secure search connection and a website Google filters the search terms: PPC associated keywords pass through and show up in your data; independent search terms do not.

As a result, you are getting traffic on your pages (and possibly conversions and sales), but you don’t know what visitors searched for to land there, making it difficult to know your audience and implement action plans and targeting campaigns or improve your SEO.

Methods to Identify ‘Not Provided’ Keywords in Google Analytics

Create a Custom Report for Landing Pages
Creating a report that filters ‘not provided’ keywords per URL can help weed through the unknown, at least for new visits.

• From a profile in Google Analytics account, select Filters
• Select ‘+ New Filter’
• Add (advanced) Filter to Profile

Google Analytics optimization

The output will list all pages that were visited while the search terms are unavailable.

If you are confident the pages carry relevant keywords, you will have a better idea of their performance based on number of visits.

If you are running PPC campaign, you can correlate the ranking with ‘not provided’ keyword analyze the trends.

Use Google Webmaster Tools Reports

Another way to identify ‘not provided’ keywords is to use the queries report from Webmaster Tools. It displays the Google search queries that generated the most impressions for your URLs. All you need is to set up Webmaster Tools data sharing.
Analyze the traffic sources to understand where the searches are coming from. The queries report allows you to identify the most popular keywords and provide new keywords to consider. With this data, you can isolate the pages that have a good position but low click-through, and focus on improving content.
The inconvenient of this method is it works for one website at a time. If you manage several sites, you have to manually change the association between Webmaster and Google Analytics each time.

Google Analytics keyword analyze

Use Adwords reports to identify ‘not provided’ keywords

Paid search is not subject to the privacy filter, so this is a good place to go fish.

The Adwords keyword report gives the whole data of traffic sources  in “Matched Search Queries”.

If Adwords is part of your campaigns, comparing page data between paid and organic searches is useful.
Where it gets interesting is to analyze your competitors’ performance in the Google Adwords Auction Insights Report.

This reveals great information on keywords that hit, along with a glimpse of your competition’s strategies: if a keyword consistently makes it to the top, it could mean they are focusing on it…for a (good) reason.

When Google pulled the plug and created the ‘not provided’ keywords creature, they sparked a fierce controversy. Solutions to identify organic search or circumvent the absence of data exist but are far from providing satisfactory results (not to mention the amount of work it represents to get information that was available before). Third party developers are working around the clock to bring back sanity to the SEO world.

Best Mobile Analytics Apps 2016

Mobile devices have become an extension of our desk and mobile analytics apps let us do our job anytime, anywhere.

Running an online business, managing websites, or optimizing digital marketing campaigns… We are not necessarily sitting in front of a screen all day; we need access to data when we are off work. Such is the virtual world that it changes constantly and necessitates we take prompt actions.

Imagine being out of the office for hours. No desktop computer, no laptop. At any given moment, something could happen that needs fixing.

Without the possibility to react, we lose control of productivity. In fact, even a few minutes can make a difference. That’s how fast the world moves.
In our job, in our business, all depending upon virtual behaviors, we rely on numbers, reports and graphs to continually assess our position, visibility and performance. It can all be in our palm and at our fingertips, thanks to mobile analytics tools.

Mobile Analytics Apps Best for SEO Essentials: iWebmaster Tools

iWebmaster screen

(available for iPhone and iPad- free)
For digital marketing professionals and online business owners, SEO is at the forefront of operations. The need for outstanding execution calls for powerful tools that give access to data and key metrics.
iWebmaster Tools is a mobile analytics app that scans all aspects of SEO and deliver the results in clear design. From SEO reports to Alexa stats and social analytics (counting shares, tweets and attached comments), you can monitor your performance in seconds.

The Directory Listing Checker allows you to make sure you are listed in the most popular directories, essential to your visibility.
The app is kind enough to highlight your website vulnerabilities and offer advice to improve along with providing website diagnostic (including potential malware threats using our trusted guardians Norton, McAfee and AVG).
The Resources tab and E-Learning Center offer videos from the likes of MOZ and SEOBook so you can keep up to date with the industry news and happenings, and courses about Email marketing list building or how to conquer social media (with titles like “secret strategies” and “plan of attack” , you’re set to dominate the virtual universe).

To put it simply : must have mobile analytics app.

Mobile Analytics Apps Best for in Depth Reports: Google Analytics

(available for IOS and Android – free)

Google Analytics

Digital marketers, online retailers, website owners all rely on reports to track productivity, analyse traffic and retention and increase conversion. Chances are Google Analytics is installed on their desktop.

The mobile version offers the same functionalities with the added benefit of manageable size.
Data are displayed in real time so the slightest anomaly can quickly be detected and addressed.

The mobile analytics app lets you configure your favorite views, controls are easy to master and navigation is user friendly.

While it’s loaded with reports, the one page overviews make it less daunting than the desktop version. A smaller scale forces you to look at the whole before digging in, allowing for better evaluation of your audience, acquisition or conversions, to name a few . One glance and you immediately notice if traffic is timid, giving you the opportunity to react. This mobile analytics app also features automatic alerts if it detects anomalies so you don’t wait hours before being able to fix them.

To put it simply: robust mobile analytics app.

Mobile Analytics Apps Best for at a Glance: Dashboard for Google Analytics

(available for iPhone and Android – free)

Dashboard for Google
One might think Google dominates, but we have to admit they know a lot about online business and the best tools to run it. The mobile analytics app “Dashboard” brings the essence of Google Analytics without the overwhelming effect.

In a matter of seconds, you can see if you met your goals thanks to auto-updating charts. Anything displayed in red alerts you of a matter that requires your attention. The app is particularly useful at critical times of a campaign (at launch for example), special events or promotions when you must be able to track performance and cost effectiveness. Dashboard for Google Analytics drills through over 80 reports to deliver their essence in simple, understandable form.

To put it simply: mobile analytics app for pros on the go.
Internet users are using their mobile device more and more to search, surf and shop on the net. It’s only common sense that we too use those devices to make sure we cater to their exact needs.

Why Hire a Web Design Company to Create an eCommerce Site?

By: Chad Bell
Well….its basic economics. You know, the comparative advantage theory? Actually, unless you have taken an economics class you probably are not familiar with the concept. I know a lot of potential customers that contact me do not consider this basic principal when they are shopping around for an eCommerce web designer. Just in the last month I have had many telephone conversations with individuals and companies that are looking for someone to clean up the mess that they have created trying to create a website, or eCommerce website in house, or on their own.

Now, the resources these individuals and companies spent on trying to create a site should have been spent doing whatever it is that they do best, presumably what they are in business to do. Instead they insisted on doing it themselves because they bulked at the $2500 -$10,000 price tag they were quoted by a web design company. The hidden cost here, what so many people fail to see, is the opportunity cost. Or, the money you lose by not focusing on what you do best. So, if you are debating whether or not to hire a company to create your website, ask yourself how much is it really going to cost you to go the do-it-yourself route, be careful, you don’t want to spend a dollar to save a dime.

Tag Archive for: web design