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Design & Coding

Ten Web Publishing DOs

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As a website designer and web publisher myself, i know the importance of ‘must-do’ things online. If you follow some basic rules on things you definitely should do, and be careful of the things you shouldn’t do, your sure to be successful at it.

In the first part of 2 articles, here are ten things you should definitely do when publishing online.

 

DO Think About Your Target Audience

Who is your Web site targeting? A little thought along these lines can make your pages much more appealing to your visitors. Before you begin creating your Web site, choose the right look and feel and a style of presentation that is appropriate for your audience.

For instance, if your target audience is your family, keep your site simple and fun; but if it’s a business site, keep the personal stuff well separate.

Include links that your visitors find interesting, not just the ones that you find interesting — unless that’s the point of your page, of course.

DO Use Good Sites as Models

To say that the web has many good sites is to make a huge understatement. Therefore, it is also an understatement to suggest that ignoring those good examples when designing your own site is not the best idea. Take a look around and find the designs that work. Many top-rated sites have settled on relatively simple designs. Think about why each design you like works well. Is it

  • The use of colour and the layout of the Web page?
  • The fact that the site loads quickly?
  • The well-organized content?

Google is a good example of a site that is well-focused around a key observation: speed matters. The Ford site, which could hardly be more different, also does a good job for their customers – by giving cars pride of place.

Note what works and why, and then strive to duplicate that effect in your own Web pages. Look for conventions in presenting information that web users have grown accustomed to, neat design ideas, and various types of content.

DO Think Before You Create

A surprising number of people just jump in and start throwing around text and HTML tags with no clue about where they’re going or what they want to accomplish. That approach is fine if you just want to play around; in fact, it can be a lot of fun. But if you want to make a good impression on the Web, sitting down and thinking about a few things ahead of time really pays off.

Sketch your ideas on paper. Then describe them to someone else and ask for feedback. This prep work forces you to consider things that you may not think about otherwise:

  • Page layout
  • Graphic design
  • Target audience
  • Content structure

All these issues and more, when properly considered and acted on, can make your site a first-class net surfing experience.

DO Get Permissions for Content

You can easily peek at the HTML source of any Web page, and that’s legitimate, and a good way to figure out new design techniques. But you can also easily grab any content that exists on the web, even privately owned content that belongs to others. However, the fact that you can easily grab others’ content does not make doing so right or legal. It’s also not necessary.

You can find a great deal of public domain content, and getting permission to use some private content is not all that hard to do. If a Web page doesn’t explicitly say that its content can be freely borrowed, assume that it’s copyrighted or otherwise protected, which means you should ask before borrowing any of it. Many people are happy to let you use their content as long as you provide proper attribution and reciprocal links so that they can gain exposure to new web users who visit your pages.

DO Use Links to Outside Sites

No matter how great your content is, you’re wasting the most important feature of the web if you don’t include links to sites outside your own. No matter what your topic, you can find complementary sites out there. Giving your visitors links to those sites is not only courteous — its part of the foundation on which the web was built.

If you research your links carefully and organize them well, your links can be a valuable resource for others. In your own web surfing, you’ve probably found that one of the best experiences on the web is the chance of stumbling upon some cool site that you had no idea existed. Give your visitors that same experience.

DO Use Graphics and Multimedia

A prime attraction of the web is that it’s designed to present graphical information; yet there are still many beginning web authors who are intimidated by graphics and shy away from using them. Include pictures, icons, bars, and graphical menus in your web page. Go ahead, try out transparent GIFs. Multimedia is a great addition, too, where appropriate;

The bottom line is that sites that carefully use graphics and multimedia are much more interesting than purely text-oriented ones. Give it a go.

DO Test Your Pages

Testing your pages is easy. You probably don’t send out a memo without spell-checking it. Similarly, you should not put up your web pages without testing them. That means looking at your pages on your own machine before testing them on the web – follow links, see how graphics and text fit together, and so on.

Also, looking at your pages in different browsers doesn’t hurt. If you can’t do it, ask a friend or even a stranger to help. And, of course, don’t forget to spell check your pages.

After you upload your files to the web, test again on your own machine, your friends’ and neighbour’s machines, any machine you have access to – you may be surprised by the differences you see.

DO Publicize Your Site

Nothing is more frustrating than putting up a site that no one visits. Fortunately, there are many ways to publicize your new website on the internet. Although most of the quality and quick promotion services do cost money, if you’re willing to do a bit of the hard work yourself, you will be rewarded with new visitors and search engine rankings in the long-run. checkout our recent article, Online Marketing Techniques – An In-Depth Look for some great ideas on marketing your website.

DO Ask for Feedback

Put your e-mail address on your home page and ask for comments. You’ll be amazed by what people say about your pages. People who have never before seen your site can offer a good, fresh perspective and give you feedback on things that you may not have previously thought about.

Everyone can benefit from outside input. Criticism by your prospective audience is not only useful, it’s also educational. You can learn a lot about what people expect and want. Criticism can’t hurt anything but your pride, and listening to it almost always improves your site.

DO Update Your Site

A static site is a boring site. True, it works for some purposes, but in general, if you want people to continually revisit your site, you must keep it updated. The best sites are those that continually provide new and interesting content. Include pointers to information that’s frequently updated, like “Thought for the day” or “Links to new, cool sites.” Let users know how often to expect updates and be sure to showcase new content.

In addition to updating your site, update yourself! Broadening your knowledge of Web design, new trends and technologies, and what’s “cool” at the moment can only help in improving your site.

In our next article, we will be looking at the 10 things you shouldn’t do when publishing to the web, so be sure to sign up to our RSS feed to be notified when the article is published.

Andy's blog is about creating content your site’s visitors will fall in love with, it’s about teaching you the most important tips to help you succeed in what you do. It’s about providing tips and tricks on marketing your blog or website successfully and gain top search engine rankings.

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Design & Coding

4 Uncommon Design Tricks That Improve User Experience 100%

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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

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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!)

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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 https://www.databerry.com/. 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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