Professional Website Design

 Contrary to what you’ve read recently, professional website design is not dead. In fact, the professional website designer is alive and well and business is thriving. Do you wonder how I can be so confident in these statements? It’s simple. We’re human and we need humans to help create an environment where other humans can emotionally connect.

We’re Only Human

The internet connects people and businesses across the world and usage continues to grow with each month, season, and year. While desktop website usage has gone flat, overall internet usage as a whole continues to grow at staggering rates. Users have moved beyond the desktop and are using tablets and mobile phones to keep them connected with the world.

And as device usage changes and internet adoption grows, content is becoming more diverse and engaging. The internet of things is connecting humans and machines and virtually everything around us.

Artificial Intelligence and Templates Cannot Solve Human Problems

Each week my team and I help companies with WordPress development projects, but in doing so we don’t just build

Front Page of Your Website

 The relationship between a customer and a business is based on trust. Is your website customer-friendly? Start with the five things that belong on the front page of every business website.

1. Contact information: A recent survey by Chantilly, Va.-based local media and advertising research group BIA/Kelsey indicates that nearly 75 percent of small-business websites don’t have an email link on their homepage. And six out of 10 don’t have a phone number. Minimally, your site should have a clear email link and a phone number. If you have a physical location, consider including the full address with the state and zip code, as well as a map and directions.

2. Images that represent what you do: If you sell wedding cakes, for instance, the front page of your website should have a picture of one of your cakes. As basic as this sounds, many business sites use irrelevant graphics such as butterflies and family photos, or worse, no graphics at all.

But be mindful of how you display images. Think twice before making them spin or shake or do anything else that can be distracting or irritating.

3. Clear

Top Professional Website Builders

 To give you an insight into some of the options available, this guide is going to show you some of the top picks that you should consider. With 77 percent believing a poor website is a weakness, you need the right builder.

Which of these top professional website builders will you use for your small business website today?

1. Website Builder.

The Website Builder platform will help you to build a professional website in just three steps. Despite the simplicity of this platform, there are thousands of templates to choose from. And you don’t have to stick with the templates available. Every template is freely open to editing, so you can do what you like with it and make a completely unique website.

2. Wix.

Wix is one of the most well-known website platforms in the world. Other than WordPress, this is one of the best free website builders available. You can create practically anything using Wix, but it tends to work best with fashion and apparel websites.

3. Weebly.

Weebly is

Website Navigation

Navigating Through the Grocery Store is the Same as Navigating Through a Website.

  • Navigation affects traffic: how high you’ll rank, how much traffic you’ll get from search
  • Navigation affects conversions: how easy the site is to use, what percentage of visitors convert into leads and customers

I’ve been shopping at this particular Meijer every week for about seven years. I know where the groceries and products are located and I could probably walk blindfolded to many things I commonly buy. But what if I normally shop at Kroger and this was my first trip to Meijer? How overwhelmed would I be? Meijer is huge and the store sells everything from milk and paper products to bathing suits and auto supplies. If this were my first trip I would be utterly overwhelmed by the variety of products and the size of the store. Meijer has obviously considered this because their ceiling provides an easy to use map of the store layout and it quickly navigates you to core locations (or departments) within the store. Need baby products or kitchen supplies? There is a sign for both and they even offer an image for those of us frantically looking for diapers

Website Visitor

Website visitors, however, do not offer than same continuity. Unlike my best friend, the average visitor gives you about 30 seconds before they make a decision and put your website and company into a box. Your box can quickly become the “expert”, the “clueless”, or worse yet, the “has been”. Website visitors have short attention spans, multitasking lives, and they simply have to much data thrown at them to weed through useless rambling and ill contrived text.

When I sit down with a prospective website design client, I always ask about visitor personas. A visitor persona is simply a box for your website visitors. It helps segregate your web traffic into manageable groups similar to what I do in my personal life. Personas help define your target market and helps web designers formulate a design that direct a more precise marketing message to the various personas.

Why would a web designer or company want to segregate their web traffic into boxes? So the marketing message can be tailored to each persona or group of visitors. Once you have your personas defined, you can create unique messaging targeted to those personas, you can better articulate your offering, and thus convert more web traffic.

Trials And Tribulations of Website Developer

48 Hours of Real-World Trials and Tribulations

Meet Sally

Sally is a prospect that arrived as a referral from another WordPress developer. She spent $50,000 on a website that was built with a page builder she can’t really use or modify. The rebuild of her website took her search traffic to virtually zero and her sales funnel has dried up into nothingness.

Meet Charles

Charles is my SEO consulting client and I’ve been helping him with keyword research, site mapping, and content creation for the last few months. This has been taking place while he had an outside designer and website developer build out his new website. He recently sent me the URL to his development website so I could check it out. Friday morning I had the unfortunate task of telling him what I found in just a few short minutes of review.

Each page has a whopping 10+ h1 headers. You’re only supposed to have one per page. This is basic coding and anyone with a adequate level of coding skill would know this requirement. His page URLs don’t match what we had planned and were simply defaulted to page

Website Design: Beauty is in the Eye of the Beholder

It generally takes a third party to point out a website’s physical and esthetic flaws. Sometimes it takes a few hundred of your dearest friends and colleagues to convince you that your website is ugly. An ugly website can come in many shapes and sizes. It may have a horrendous color scheme, a nasty logo, outdated architecture, inappropriate images, spelling errors, or it just might be difficult to navigate and locate information. Regardless, these ugly ducklings exist and they seem to be growing and living well past their intended lifecycle.

As a small business owner or C-level executive, listen to those around you and seek outsiders’ opinions. If someone you know and trust or even a prospective customer tells you your website has “issues”, it probably does need a refresh or a complete overhaul. Seek outside help and seek it quickly, before you are labeled one of the ugly ones. This isn’t the playground and you won’t hear your girlfriends whispering behind your back. All you’ll know is you are receiving little traffic, few conversions, or virtually zero website leads or sales.

Simple tips for improving your web design

1. Have a polished, professional logo–and link it to your home page. “Your logo is

Value Content Before Website Design

Design Trends Come and Go, But a Focus on the User Should Not

I’ll receive emails from people discussing their website design requirements and many times these lists will be focusing on specific project criteria like infinite scroll, hamburger menus, hero images, video backgrounds, and motion. Rarely do people approach a design firm and present data based on their visitors, the user’s needs, and the ultimate goals of a website visit.

Website owners get caught up in design trends, their competitors’ websites, and what they believe is modern and current design elements. In doing so, they lose track of the actual website visitor. All too often people select a website template or blog theme and get caught up in the graphical presentation or bells and whistles it offers. It’s an emotional buy that supersedes the desire to help the actual website visitors.

Once they buy the stock theme, they force their content to fit within the template’s available content blocks. Or worse yet, they force a custom design to adhere to the same style and presentation of a top competitor’s website. In most cases this leads to disappointment and buyer’s remorse. The reason this occurs is

Website Design Inspiration

1) FreshBooks

Why It’s Brilliant

  • It’s easy to consume. There is much debate on whether short or long homepages work better. If you choose to do the latter, you need to make it easy to scroll and read — and that’s exactly what this site does. It almost acts like a story.
  • There’s great use of contrast and positioning with the primary calls-to-action — it’s clear what the company wants you to convert on when you arrive.
  • The copy used in the calls-to-action “Get Started for Free” is very compelling.
  • FreshBooks uses customer testimonials on the homepage to tell real-world stories of why to use the product.
  • The sub-headline is also great: “Join over 10 million small business owners using FreshBooks.” FreshBooks expertly employs social proof — 10 million is a big number — to compel its target audience to join their peers and try the tool.

2) Airbnb

Why It’s Brilliant

  • It includes the destination and date search form that most visitors come looking for, right up front, guiding visitors to the logical next step.
  • The search form is “smart,” meaning it’ll auto-fill the user’s last search if they’re logged in.
  • The primary call-to-action (“Search”) contrasts with the

Create More Engaging Website Landing Pages

If you’re concerned that your current landing pages may be driving visitors away instead of encouraging them to engage further with your content, consider the following strategies to optimize your landing pages:

1. Create custom landing pages.
Keep in mind that you aren’t limited to a single landing page. You can create multiple pages, each customized to a particular type of visitor.

Ideally, a landing page should form a bridge between your traffic referral source — such as a link in an ad or from social media — and the rest of your website, providing information that’s tailored to the individual visitor’s needs. For example, if you run a pay-per-click (PPC) campaign promoting a specific product in your ad and then drop your visitors onto your home page, they may feel discombobulated.

 

2. Split-test your landing pages.
Landing page optimization isn’t over once you’ve created custom pages for distinct groups of visitors. To truly improve the performance of your website, consider running split tests on your individual landing pages. Split testing essentially allows you to compare two or more versions of a web page to determine which elements or features are most effective.

To determine which landing page features are more effective, you can

Your Landing Pages Can Maximize Conversion Rates

This article will discuss the rising importance of personality and trust in brand communication, particularly in landing page optimization. I’ll give you five strategies for presenting a user-friendly landing page and a personable business that you can apply to improve your conversion rates. We’ll go through techniques that can give your website that certain “something” which gets a visitor to convert.

Landing page optimization is a continuous exercise of testing. It is pitting control against variation until you’re satisfied (which you never should be).

Add Personality and Trust to your Landing Page

When we meet someone new, we unconsciously process minor, inexplicable cues. For no specific reason that we are aware of, we either like the person or we don’t.

An example of this unconscious decision making is the fact that we tend to trust someone who is confidently poised, has an open air, and speaks calmly, slowly, and directly. We are less trusting of people who appear weak, closed off, and (here’s where it gets a bit crazy) not very good looking.

Landing pages are no different.

When someone lands on your landing page, the decision to stay takes between three and eight seconds.

Your Site’s URL Structure

Throughout the big launch, one important thing might be forgotten. While the aesthetics may have been addressed, there may be far less regard for the project’s fundamental core: its URL structure. And this goes a long way to determining the way your site is structured, which has an effect on how it performs in search engine rankings.

  • Better organization leads to easier crawling. For any website, a logical and easily mapped out structure is desirable. If you were to sketch out how your website’s pages are connected to the home page, you would ideally end up with something that looks like a pyramid, with an increasing number of pages the further down you go. This top-down approach can be seen on a number of very successful websites. In almost all cases, the next level beneath the home page will be represented visually in the navigation menu. See this approach on the dermatology website amiea.com. Visit any of the menu navigation categories or subcategories; the URL structure is logical and easy to match with the menu item without knowing too much about the site. You could even guess the URL of a page just by looking at the navigation menu.
  • Logical

Reasons Your Website Will Never Be Finished

Your company’s website will never be finished. You will never sit back, breathe a sigh of relief, and say, “Finally! We’ve got this thing wrapped up; now we can move onto other things. That is, this will never happen if you’re doing all you should with your website. And this adds up to some good news because if you’re constantly updating your site, you’ll develop an advantage over your competitors who aren’t.

Here are three reasons you should never stop working on your website:

1. Web design trends are evolving. Compare websites designed within the past few months with those designed a few years ago, and you’ll notice some differences. Web design trends can sometimes be mere fads, but often they are driven by changes in technology. Two modern trends in web design are flat design and responsive design. Gradients, drop shadows, bevels and elements designed to resemble real objects have no place in flat web design. Proponents of flat design eschew the fancy in favor of simplicity, clean lines, bold colors and a focus on content and usability. Flat design also means cleaner code, faster-loading pages (good for SEO) and greater adaptability, which factors into the next trend.

2. Consumer preferences

Big Changes to the Internet

To keep up with the fast paced changes of the internet, web-hosting company Weebly used its own site to show how even in just the past 10 years, web design and the internet have come a long way.

Looking through the lens of Weebly’s website, here are 11 things we forgot we knew about the internet:

1. 2006: MySpace and Internet Explorer were on top.

In 2006, the web was a whole different beast. Weebly says that there was little desire for intricate web design in 2006. “MySpace was still a thing, and Weebly’s headquarters was a Penn State dorm room,” Weebly told The Next Web.

At this time, most internet users accessed the web through Internet Explorer, Facebook extended beyond educational institutions and Jack Dorsey sent his first tweet. MySpace was king of social media platforms, with more than 75 million users.

2. 2007: Apple releases the iPhone, and the mobile-friendly seed is planted.

In 2007, the idea that websites should become mobile-friendly came into play, with the release of Apple’s first generation iPhone.

Blackberry was the phone of choice at the time, with 36 percent of Americans in 2007 saying they would have a hard time giving up

The Most Deadly Mistakes in Website Design

 Avoid these gaffes, and your site will be far better than much of the competition.

1. Disabling the back button. Evil site authors long ago figured out how to break a browser’s back button so that when a user pushes it, one of several undesired things happen: There’s an immediate redirect to an unwanted location, the browser stays put because the “back” button has been deactivated, or a new window pops up and overtakes the screen.

2. Opening new windows. Once upon a time, using multiple new frames to display content as a user clicked through a site was cool–a new thing in web design. Now it only annoys viewers because it ties up system resources, slows computer response and generally complicates a visitor’s experience.

3. Failing to put a phone number and address in several easy-to-find locations. If you’re selling, you need to offer viewers multiple ways to contact you. The smartest route is to put up a “Contact Us” link that leads to complete info–mailing address, phone and email address. That link should be on each and every page of your website. Even if nobody ever calls, the very presence of this information adds real-world legitimacy and transparency to

Infinite Scrolling Right for Your Website

Facebook and other social networks such as Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram are perfect examples of this. Other examples of infinite scrolling include Google images, Mashable, The Chicago Tribune, and small business blogs like Uberflip and CopyPress.

The pros

  • It’s great for mobile phones. Clicking small “next page” links make it hard to browse on your mobile phone. Simply scrolling up or down is much easier.
  • It helps keep readers engaged. It’s easy to keep scrolling without realizing it, whereas a “see more” link breaks up the experience.
  • It works well if you’re dealing with a lot of data. You can show more content at once, so it’s great if you have a lot of information to produce.
  • Real-time information is easiest to manage. Infinite scroll will update content immediately, so websites that count on real-time information (such as social media sites) do extremely well with infinite scroll.

The cons

  • Users can’t search for anything specific. You have to keep scrolling if you’re looking for something specific or something you saw earlier.
  • Users also can’t skip information. On that same note, you can’t skip down to new information because it hasn’t necessarily been loaded yet. Again, you have to just keep scrolling. For some, this can become very annoying.
  • Your website won’t have a footer. This means you will have

Protect Your Design Work on the Internet

Web designers are faced with a “catch 22” situation. To attract new clients, they must showcase their work and put it on display on the internet. Yet, by doing so, they are more vulnerable to thievery. The possibility of people taking their work and re-publishing it or using it for their own gain without giving the author attribution is a grim reality.

It’s all too easy for internet users to click and save a graphic and insert it into a blog or website without the creator even knowing it is happening.

Many people who re-post graphics are not aware of the illegal nature of their actions. People think that the internet and its images are available to anyone who wants them.

In other cases, people will “steal” designs that don’t have any copyright information stated. They do not realize that an image is copyrighted material once it is published, regardless of the lack of statements surrounding it.

Do you have a team of legal experts ready to prosecute people who steal your work? Unless you have the budget of Amazon.com, this is not a likely scenario. Most freelance web designers do

Steps to Optimizing Your Website

The goal of search engine optimization is to have the search engine spiders not only find your site and pages but also specifically rank the page relevance so that it appears at the top of the search engine results. The process of optimization is not a one-time process but requires maintenance, tuning, and continuous testing and monitoring.

Below is a broad four-step process for a strategy for search engine optimization. Use this as your top-level checklist.

Step 1: Target Market Business Analysis

  • Website analysis. Analysis of meta sets/keywords, visible text and code to deter­mine how well you’re positioned for search engines. For example, how much code do you have on a page compared to text?
  • Competitive analysis. Examination of content keywords and present engine rank­ings of competitive websites to determine an effective engine positioning strategy. Pick the top five results in the Google listing results to begin this process. Expand as necessary. Use tools such as Semrush.com and Keywordspy.com.

Step 2: Keyword Research and Development

  • Keyword analysis. From nomination, further identify a targeted list of key­words and phrases. Review competitive lists and other pertinent industry sources. Use your preliminary list to determine an indicative number of recent search engine queries and how many websites are competing

Tips to Design Newsletter Layouts

Newsletters still offer the best way to reach your audience directly and increase sales. But if you’ve never managed an email list before this can be an intimidating process.

Once you have a list you’ll need to send out emails that connect with subscribers and offer real value. This means great content and great design all wrapped up in a pretty bow.

  • Single-Column Layouts

Emails need to be designed smaller because email readers like Outlook have more restrictions than web browsers. This means your average newsletter is rarely larger than 600px wide, so it’s best to use a 1-column layout or at most a 2-column layout.

1. Create a header

No question, your newsletter needs a header. It’s the equivalent of a magazine, newspaper or website name. It sits at the very top of your newsletter and should include the newsletter title (if you have one), your company name and your logo.

Fortunately, there are online DIY tools to help you with your headers, such as Stencil or Pixlr. With these programs, you don’t need any graphic design experience to create and save graphics to your computer. Just create your header once, and use it again and again.

2. Let your logo dictate color scheme

Your newsletter needs a color scheme. Because your logo

Increase Your Website’s Conversion Rate

Getting traffic to your website is great, but if that traffic doesn’t convert, it’s almost useless. This article will outline  strategies for getting your visitors to take action, whether that’s filling out a form, handing over their email address or making a purchase.

1. Include as few fields as possible.

When asking for information in an email opt-in form, ask for as little information as necessary. Here’s an example of how using one additional form field decreased conversions by 11 percent.

2. Add a guarantee.

Include a no-questions-asked refund policy on all purchases. This reduces risk, and increased sales will usually more than make up for any returns.

3. Use tangible action verbs.

When testing out different calls to action, try using action language that spurs visitors to take action (for example, “grab yours,” “reserve your seat”)

4. Use testimonials.

Testimonials reduce risk and provide social proof. Use them on product landing pages as well as on your email opt-in landing page.

5. Clearly state the benefits of your product or service.

Listing the features of your product is important, but it’s even more important to tell potential customers exactly how