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Design & Coding

Is Your Site Mobile Friendly? Does it Matter?



Making your site mobile/iPhone friendly is relatively simple to do. If you’re a WordPress blogger, all you have to do is install WP Touch (previously discussed here) and adjust the options to suit your liking.

But if you are among the bloggers that haven’t created a mobile-friendly version of your site, you are not alone. The vast majority of sites on the Web do not have mobile-friendly versions, especially small-to-midsized sites, and there doesn’t appear to be any rush to add the capability.

Though the growth in mobile browsing has grown faster than desktop Web browsing, it still only makes up a fraction of overall Web surfing. Furthermore, even those who are using mobile surfing are not generally using it as their primary or sole means to access the Web, but rather, are using it for specific tasks.

This begs the question of how important mobile optimization is for Web sites and if it is something bloggers should worry about. The answer, however, is far from cut and dry.

Mobile IS the Future

To be clear, mobile browsing is the future of the Web or at least a bit part of it. There isn’t much debate about that. Internet use on mobile phones is growing rapidly and with the introduction of new devices, such as the iPad, that are targeted for this purpose, that trend is only going to speed up. Factor in netbooks, which function as PCs but serve a more mobile-oriented function, and it seems the days of a desktop computer are numbered.

That may be the case, but more likely we are heading to a more hybrid environment where all methods of accessing the Web are used in conjunction. Desktop PCs will continue to be around in some form, but consumers will use other means to access the Web as well, making them less dependent on their non-mobile machines than they already are.

But this revolution isn’t being fueled just by a desire to cut the cord, but also by the amazing power of these tools. In just a few short years a mobile browser has gone from being able to only display text to browsers, such as those on the iPhone and Droid, that are capable of displaying text, images, video and the full layout of the page.

In short, the mobile revolution is less about making sites that work well on mobile phones and more about making mobile phones that work well with Web sites. This is great news for Web developers as it keeps standards consistent and lets users access our sites no matter where they might be.

While there are still some heavy concerns for Web developers, including the limited speed of mobile Web access (even over 3G networks), as mobile broadband becomes more common, those fears will wane, making the existing Web even better for those using mobile devices.

It’s About the Apps

However, just because mobile browsers can display content on any Web site doesn’t make it an ideal solution. The problem is that traditional Web sites are formatted for much larger screens, requiring the user to take extra steps to view it on a mobile device, usually zooming in and scrolling around the screen.

Mobile versions of a Web site can mitigate that, making it easier to browse as well as faster to load on the limited connection. Though the burden of viewing a full site on an iPhone is not that large, having a mobile-friendly version can make your site more appealing to those who do a lot of mobile browsing.

However, according to an article by Gigaom for Businessweek, mobile browsing may be giving way to apps for specific sites and services. Already there are countless apps for Facebook and Twitter, but even some individual blogs are getting in on the game, including Mashable.

These apps provide a tight, integrated and speedy experience that can’t even be matched by a mobile-friendly site. Throw in push alerts and other notifications and it easy to see why these apps may be the way of the future. Not only are they more convenient for users, but the offer new opportunities for publishers to connect with readers.

Whether this actually comes to pass or not, especially with the growing acceptance of HTML5 for building Web-based apps, but it is easy to see why it might be very tempting.

Is It Right For You?

This leaves bloggers in a pretty strange position. Should they keep going as is, create a mobile version of their site or perhaps invest the time and money to create a mobile app? There is no right or wrong answer.

The key lies in how visitors are using your site now and in knowing your audience. If you write a blog that talks about mobile gadgets, then you probably need at least a mobile-friendly site, possibly even an app. If you write about how cell phones are evil and are destroying society, you probably shouldn’t bother.

Most sites, however, lie somewhere in the middle and have readers that will come to it from multiple sources. If you look at your traffic stats, you should be able to get a feeling for how big mobile browsing is on your site and if it is worth creating something a new version to cater to them.

GIven that, for many bloggers, creating a mobile-friendly version of the site is as easy as installing a plugin, there probably is little harm in doing so. However, if you use certain caching systems, you may find that WP Touch is incompatible, as I did.

If you don’t have a large mobile audience at this time, there probably isn’t much cause to take action. However, you definitely do want to keep an eye on the mobile market and start thinking about when might be a good time, in your niche, to make a more concerted effort.

Bottom Line

Though there has always been a lot of variety in the way people view Web sites (browsers, operating systems, plugins, etc.) and those have always produced challenges for those building sites, we haven’t seen anything yet.

Soon enough, for a site to be successful, it will have to function on computers, phones, tablets and more. Where previously the biggest challenge was coding for IE6, soon it will be coding for all of the hardware platforms too.

The good news is that, unlike the previous challenges, this isn’t about sites breaking on one browser. Due to the power of these new tools, sites will function “good enough” so long as they don’t have features, such as Flash, that aren’t on all mobile platforms. Rather, this is about optimization and giving the best reader experience possible.

This makes sense. After all, it is much easier (and cheaper) to build new phones that work with the existing Web than to try and build a who new Web for the old phones. We don’t have to reinvent the wheel, but we may have to tweak the engine in order to ensure that we give our visitors the best experience they can have.

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Design & Coding

4 Uncommon Design Tricks That Improve User Experience 100%




Everyone’s concerned about improving conversion rates. The general consensus is that user experience is the place to start.

There are several ways to improve user experience on your blog. Most strategies center on tweaking the design of your website, but sometimes it’s how you organize your navigation. You’ve probably made basic changes like switching to WordPress or alphabetizing your drop-down menu’s items.

Here are some strategies you may not have tried:

1 – Color-code your menus with matching page color schemes

If you’re like most bloggers, you probably created a workable color scheme for your site and called it a day. If you want to improve user experience, that’s not enough. Consider coordinating the colors between your main menu links and each of your pages.

In an article describing why color-coded, hand-written notes improve efficiency of thought, blogger Kevin Purdy reveals that “color improves recall time for graphs and charts, and can be a very effective performance factor if not overdone.” The article also summarizes the work of Michael Tipper, a speaker and consultant on mind mapping and organizational software. Tipper says that color-coding the branches of a mind map stimulates the creative side of your brain, and visually separates distinct themes (which improves recall).

This same idea can be applied to your website for optimal results. Improve user experience by color-coding your main menu with a matching color scheme for each page you link. For instance, Pioneer Seeds implements color coordination extremely well. From one side to the other, all mega menu drop-downs have a unique background color that matches the color scheme of the pages listed within that particular section. There are no complicated color schemes. Each page presents one solid color.

The continuity of matching colors feels good, it’s easy on the eyes, and it helps people keep track of what section they’re viewing.

2 – Hire a design agency to create a custom design from scratch

The era of templates is here to stay, but not without consequence. Templates are easy and cheap (sometimes free), but they lack the flexibility you need to create an impactful and smooth user experience.

For example, most templates feature a gigantic header that encourages you to create an enormous header you don’t need. The most popular templates today force users to scroll endlessly through horizontal sections containing nothing but large icons with a few words underneath. You can change a template, but not without effort and the frustration of having to settle for “good enough.” This is especially useful for anyone trying to making their mobile site look similar to their desktop experience. This is best accomplished when having a fully responsive theme in place for all platforms.

A design agency can give you exactly what you want from the beginning. When your website design is created from scratch, you don’t have to spend hours tweaking a template only to find out your final tweak – the one that matters most – isn’t going to work.

Men With Pens is a well-known design agency that has created custom WordPress themes for years. They specialize in design, and know exactly how to create a better user experience. Their website embodies their expertise in user experience.

Check out their tips for bloggers and see if you notice anything unique about the page design. The design fills the entire page, and the graphics extend outside the lines and boxes. When you land on the page, you’re engaged right away. Capturing a visitor’s attention is your first priority to improve user experience. If you don’t have a user’s attention, they won’t have an experience at all.

3 – Simplicity

Simplicity never goes out of style. Simplicity in design embraces the approach that “less is more.” It’s a cliché, but it’s true.

Nobody knows simplicity better than Steve Pavlina. He’s been publishing articles on his personal blog for over a decade, and until recently, his site was as plain as plain can be. He recently switched to WordPress, but managed to maintain the simplicity responsible for his success.

Simple designs are easier to read, navigate, and interact with. Less menu items, less distractions on the home page, and minimal or no sidebars is what simplicity is all about. A simple design draws attention to what’s important.

4 – Create a unique design for mobile

Don’t just optimize your website for mobile users. Create a custom design for mobile users based on your original design. When you optimize your existing design for mobile, you often sacrifice important aspects of your desktop design. Using code, you can program your site to display a different design based on a user’s device.

Statistics show that 83% of people say a seamless experience across all devices is important. By creating a custom mobile theme based on your existing theme, you give mobile users that seamless experience. It’s the best of both worlds. Just be sure to include all of your navigation links. Some people suggest limiting selections for mobile users, but that will crush the seamless experience.

How to Best Prepare Your Site for Design Success!

User experience can be improved not just by tweaking your design, but by applying principles of color, navigation, and organization. Instead of chasing the latest revelation in conversion gimmicks, invest your time and money in fact-based strategies that improve user experience. Shift your focus away from the minutia of testing every tiny design element, and toward creating a psychologically-sound foundation for your users.

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Design & Coding

Fotor Photo Editor – The Perfect Graphic Design Tool for Bloggers



As bloggers and content creators, it’s important to always have visual content built within our best articles and site designs. Infographics, clip art, stock photos and more… but customized and original images will always grab the most attention.

When it comes to actually creating such visuals, you will have many different options to choose from. Whether you are looking for a free application, one that is browser-based, or even if it’s a premium software you need to download and pay for — it’s important to know what’s out there.

Today we are going to be looking at Fotor photo editor which is a free and powerful tool that lets anyone get started with their own graphic design in just a few short minutes.

This tool allows anyone to start using it through a web browser or even with their mobile application. Whether you need to edit a photo, make a collage, or create a custom and original design, it can all be done through the power of Fotor.

The most popular features of this tool are it’s one click filters and fixes that allowed anyone to make their images pop and stand out like never before.

Let’s take a look at some of the many benefits to using Fotor photo editor for your website, blog, or just everyday life.

With most people looking to customize their mobile screenshots on photos with a few simple click of a button, and this is exactly what fotor photo editor will allow you to do. It will also allow you to create custom YouTube banners that can be used to liven up your channel as well.

You can see a few of these examples in the screenshot below.

When comparing Fotor to other graphic design applications like Photoshop, you are going to find many similarities, but it’s also important to note that premium applications like Photoshop are much more advanced, but also more costly in the process. The software is free to use, you can upgrade to Fotor Pro and find even more upgrade and options available.

What makes this design application and tool great for site owners and bloggers, is that it has a unique set of design tools and features — which are what most content creators are looking. In short, it provides users with what they need, while not overwhelming them in the process.

Fotor also offers a nice selection of design templates to choose from, which makes the process of creating new and original content even easier. These template designs scale across the many different design themes, sizes, and concepts on the site.

In addition to everything else mentioned, there is also a nice collection of resources, guides, and tutorials that can be found on their site blog. Such resources will provide users what the information and walk-through processes to get the most out of Fotor.

If you are currently looking for a new design editor to improve the look and feel of visual content on your site, be sure to give Fotor a try.

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Design & Coding

4 Essential Elements of Web Design (No.3 Will Shock You!)




If you’re a small business owner take note of these four elements of web design. They’re essential for boosting your online presence. Click here for more info!

Have you ever wondered why most business websites tend to look the same? It’s like you’ve seen one and you’ve seen them all.

The truth is a lot of business owners prefer the easy route. That means going for a website builder, which offers templated designs.

If you want something different, you’ll have to go custom. But that takes a lot of time. Plus, you’ll have to look for a skilled designer/developer.

Whatever route you choose, you need to understand the elements of web design. After all, it’s your website. If you choose to hire a pro, you need to know what to ask for.

And if you opt to DIY it, then you can steer clear of cringe-worthy web design. That said, here are 4 web design elements that will help boost your online presence.

1. User Journey

You can scroll through countless website design guides and you’ll never see one that says, “ignore what users think.”

Consider mobile apps. Would you download something that’s hard to use and has a lot of annoying ads?

When you design your website, put yourself in your visitors’ shoes. Is your website hard to navigate? Does it load fast?

But how do you know if your user interface is good? Aside from consistency, it has to be simple, intuitive, responsive, and flexible.

This is why it’s good to test different designs first before committing to one. It saves time and eliminates the need for major changes later on.

2. Content

Designing for the web doesn’t stop when you have a “pretty” website. Sure, your target customers will appreciate nifty graphics and all. But if your content doesn’t offer value, users will leave your website.

Now, this doesn’t mean huge blocks of text that will drown your visitors with information. Opt for conciseness. Give your target audience content that’s easy to digest so they can process it better.

Depending on what CMS you are using, content creation is usually the easy part. This is especially the case when using platforms like Weebly, WordPress or Wix. Since most of these platforms are drag and drop, it’s simply a matter of getting familiar with each platform, and knowing how to create great content. There are no programming or design skills required.

3. Accessibility

Did you just check the title again? If yes, you may be wondering why this would be shocking. Shouldn’t this be part of any website designing guide?

The thing is there are plenty of websites that use low contrast for text because it’s trendy. But you have to take into account users who have vision problems.

There has to be enough contrast between text and background. And you also need to choose your colors well. You don’t want to alienate color-blind and blind users who use assistive technologies.

4. SEO

Some people approach website design as a separate entity from search engine optimization. But there’s a way to be strategic about the process so that design elements improve the SEO of your site.

The easiest way would be to outsource to an all-in-one design company such as When they build your site, they also take care of the backend coding stuff. This ensures your title tags, meta tags, etc work for better search ranking.

Want to Know More About the Elements of Web Design?

Knowing the elements of web design is your first step to a website that looks and functions well. But getting them all right takes a bit of trial and error.

For more web design tips, don’t forget to check out our other blog posts.

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