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Category Archives: Web Design

Improve Your Site

E-mail Marketing
Use HTML to give your emails a professional look. Use customizable templates to reduce your work effort. Alternatively, you can hire e-mail marketing services or even web designers to create interesting emails for you. Add a concise and appealing subject line to your emails and double check them for spelling and grammar mistakes.

To keep customers coming back to your site, make your emails attractive in appearance and content. Do not go overboard with lengthy messages. Just add short messages with interesting content. Add a ‘tip of the week’ or discount offer in your emails to ensure that subscribers read them instead of simply putting them in trash.

Design for Multiple Web Browsers
Your site should appeal to customers, irrespective of the web browser they use to access it. Make sure that your site works well in popular web browsers like Firefox and Internet Explorer. To make it work consistently across multiple browsers you may just have to tweak a bit for each browser.

Get Linked Up From Other Sites
Design a website that attracts other website owners to link up with you. Website links on relevant sites can significantly improve your rankings in organic search results. Get linked up to sites that offer products complementing your products. Send out emails to prospective link partners explaining reasons as to why they should add a link to your website on their sites. Always offer a link back in return. Once you have agreed to exchange links, promptly list the other website’s link. Also, check if the other website has added a link to your site on their web pages.
Building links is a time-consuming and ongoing process, so do not lose your patience. While link exchange is a good start, you should aim to get other sites to link with you without having to exchange a link. This can be accomplished by writing interesting articles and publishing them in article directories across the net. You may also bookmark your web pages on dofollow social bookmarking sites to get SEO some juice. Remember to add a link to your site with desired anchor keywords.

Key Keywords
The right keywords and phrases are essential for the success of your search engine marketing campaign. Be creative and experiment with new search terms for maximum benefit. Ask family and friends to suggest keywords and phrases. You may also like to use the free Google keywords tool to get keyword ideas. Regularly monitor the effects of your chosen keywords and refine them for maximum effectiveness.

Responsive Website Design

When you hire a web design company for responsive website design needs, you should check whether your service provider follows the industry’s best practices while designing responsive websites. With touch sensitive devices, people are not going to be using pointing devices like mouse or touch pads for clicking actions. Here, the links or the buttons should therefore be big enough so that it is easy for the users to make their selections using their fingers without touching the adjacent buttons or links. Designing responsive websites is more about designing websites that are user friendly.

One of the reasons why we are going for responsive websites is due to the fact that internet users access the web using the following types of devices:

  1. Regular desktops and laptops without touch sensitive displays.
  2. Touch sensitive devices like tablets, laptops and desktops.
  3. Touch sensitive devices like iPhones, PDAs, etc., that have very small display.

In other words, there is great diversity in the nature of the devices used and most of the devices today have touch sensitive displays. Your focus here should therefore be on creating optimum browsing experience for your users that use touch sensitive devices regardless of the size of the display.

Yet another factor that you need to remember here is that when people use mobile devices they are not going to have the comfort or the luxury of a large keyboard to input the required information. If you design websites, which require the user to do a lot of typing then it will affect the overall user experience because it is not easy to type using the virtual keyboards on the touch sensitive devices. The best practice here is to reduce the amount of typing input required while using your website. All the possible options should be provided in the form of a dropdown menu from which the users can select by simple clicking actions and this will certainly enhance the user experience.

UX Design

The easiest way to approach the planning phase for UX projects is to determine the approach you think ought to be taken for a project, then examine the constraints and amend the approach based on these constraints. This should enable you to determine budgets and timescales if they weren’t given to you by your potential client beforehand. UX projects that are well planned are easier to execute and offer a higher chance of succeeding than those that are managed on an ad-hoc basis For designers working in the ever-changing field of user experience, it’s always important to consider the fundamental principles of design. At many levels, the nature of the work that we do constantly shifts and evolves-whether we’re designing for new technologies or different contexts, ranging from apps for personal use to cross-channel experiences. When we’re called upon to solve design problems that we haven’t solved before, design principles provide a sound basis for devising innovative solutions. All of these trends have required us to look at design afresh and come up with new interaction models, design patterns, and standards-many of which are still evolving.

Visual design trends shift as well-sometimes for the better; sometimes not. For example, in the recent past, we saw the prevalent use of small, light-gray fonts that were both too small and too low contrast for good readability-for almost anybody, not just those with serious visual deficits. Now we’re seeing bigger fonts-solving that readability problem. UX Design Principles course provides foundational level skills for those interested or working in user experience design. The workshop covers aspects of designing for web, apps, and mobile. This UX workshop is suitable for designers, business analysts, product managers, and developers. No UX or design previous experience is required. It serves as the foundation for the UX Classes as well as the UX Certificate program at American Graphics Institute.

User Interface Design is its complement, the look and feel, the presentation and interactivity of a product. But like UX, it is easily and often confused by the industries that employ UI Designers. User interface design (UID) or user interface engineering is the design of websites, computers, appliances, machines, mobile communication devices, and software applications with the focus on the user’s experience and interaction. UI Design is closer to what we refer to as graphic design, though the responsibilities are somewhat more complex. Human-Computer Interaction (HCI) integrates concepts and methods from computer science, design, and psychology to build interfaces that are accessible, easy to use, and efficient. There are three factors that should be considered for the design of a successful user interface; development factors, visibility factors and acceptance factors. Development factors help by improving visual communication. These include: platform constraints, toolkits and component libraries, support for rapid prototyping, and customizability. Visibility factors take into account human factors and express a strong visual identity. These include human abilities, product identity, clear conceptual model, and multiple representations. Included as acceptance factors are an installed base, corporate politics, international markets, and documentation and training. There are three fundamental principles involved in the use of the visible language.

User experience online is very similar to the user experience you get when going to a grocery store. You want a pleasant time without any hassle. You want to be able to navigate the store quickly, get what you need right away, head to the checkout line without a wait, and get back home. You don’t want to deal with a slow cashier, items not where they should be or out of stock, hostile employees, or a crammed parking lot. You simply want what you came for (groceries) and be on your way. Stores understand this and have spent a considerable amount of time and money to help you navigate the store easier, make sure items you want are in stock, and to provide fast and friendly checkout lines. It may seem a bit corny to think of UX design in terms of going to your local grocery store, but the experiences are similar. Our customers are visitors to the sites we create, and the groceries are the content in which they came to the site for. For those of us who go to the store, it’s easy for us to pinpoint things that irritate us or think should be improved. However, when it comes to our own designs and user interfaces and the creation of them, we may not be able to point out these irritants ahead of time before users do. We can fix this by taking a step back and look for these weak points in our design, so that we don’t cause them unnecessary frustration and keep them on our site so they can get to the content they were looking for. To help us designers step back and look at our designs and user interfaces from the eyes of the visitor, let’s run through some do’s and don’ts to look out for so we can help them get exactly what they came for without irritation or a bad UX.

1. DO: Provide a similar experience regardless of the device Visitors are coming to your site using many different types of devices. They can visit your site on their desktop or laptop, tablet, phone, music player, game console, or even their watches. A big part of user experience design is ensuring that no matter how the visitor sees your site, they are getting the same experience they would if they were to visit from another device. This means that if a visitor is seeing your site on their phone, they should still be able to find everything they need without trouble just like they would if they were viewing your site on their desktop at home. A seamless experience across all of your devices helps keep your users on your site regardless of the device they are using.

2. DO: Provide instantly recognizable and easy-to-use navigation The key to providing a pleasant user experience for users is to understand that they are in search of content. They want information that you are providing on your site. The way they get there is by using your site’s navigation to quickly get to the content they are looking for. Provide a user-friendly navigation system that is easy to recognize and easy to use. Design your navigation in a way that gets visitors where they want to go with the least amount of clicks as possible while still being easy to scan and locate where they need to go.

3. DON’T: Letting the design of the site hinder the site’s readability The design of a site or user interface should never interfere with the user’s ability to consume the content on the screen. This includes having busy backgrounds behind content or poor color schemes that hinder the site’s readability. Busy backgrounds cause a distraction and take attention away from the content, even more so if the busy background is directly underneath the content. In addition, be careful not to use color schemes that decrease the contrast of the typography on the screen (i.e. light gray type of a white background). Focus on the typography of your site to ensure issues such as line length, line height, kerning, and font choice doesn’t pose issues for readability.

EDU Links

As these pages are hosted by universities, the topics they have can span the gambit from sports to academics. Most professors will have a page that will list their classes and research. Their will be web pages for many classes as well as pages for the different departments and levels of administration. Everyone on campus from the bursar to the gym will get their own page that has a section with contact information and hours. Many universities will have a human resource section that includes a trusted source of suppliers who have promised to give discounts to community members. It may be useful to check your local university to see if you can get a link from their trusted resource page. In fact, trusted resources are often a giveaway. So many people know about this strategy that it’s value is often not that high from a Search Engine Marketing (SEM) perspective. At the same time, the price could not be better: free. For this reason, many companies that are targeting their local area, as opposed to Internet businesses, love to get promotions from their local university.

There are several other strategies for finding ways to get links from university pages. Some people will post a job for an intern on a college job board. That is very easy, as interns generally are able to do useful work for a small amount of time for experience instead of pay. Others try to find a page of a professor a university that needs updating to include CSS or RSS feeds. In exchange for redesigning an older page, they will get a designer link. Designers should note, however, that Professors often have very exacting standards. Be prepared to work hard to make the page have both the proper aesthetic and text fitting for whatever field that professor is in.

Website Design Software

There are numerous website design software packages that are available for purchase or that can be downloaded for free from the internet. Many argue that some free downloads will rival the best website design package that you can buy so a little research is necessary to determine which will best fit your need.

When choosing web design software, make certain that it will assist you in optimizing your website for search engine optimization (SEO). Choose website design software that will link your pages together internally so your visitors can navigate the site easily. This linking design in the website design software can also boost your website’s ranking.

The web design software package that you choose should assist you in the use of Meta Tags. Using the right keywords in the Meta Tags will also boost your website’s ranking. It is not always necessary to pay and SEO expert to optimize your website. There are many products that you can purchase to help you but if your website was designed for SEO you should see organic growth on most search engines. There are a number of directories that you can submit your website to which also helps to push it up the search engine ladder.

Aside from using the SEO features in your website design software there are two services that will assist in troubleshooting your website for SEO once it is ready for the web. Yslow and Website Grader will evaluate your website and create a report about what changes will assist in creating a more SEO friendly site. Both of these services are free and can be found websitegrader.com or at yahoo.com

Once you have used the web design software to help you optimize the use of the keywords that best describe your business you can use other tools to increase traffic to your website. RSS feeds alert visitors when you have added new content to your site. Social networks are perfect and free. Write articles about your business and submit them to article directories with you company link. Whether you build your own site with web design software or your hire someone to build it for you, the process of keeping your site updated and fresh is an ongoing but very necessary process.

Web Design Mistakes

  1. Garish Colours

I would like to think that web developers have learned a lot about colour theory in the past 20 years, and for the most part, they have. The use of complimentary colours, often subtle or pastel hues that help add a visual flair to a design is now the norm.

Then there’s websites that think colour is the most important aspect of a website, more so than content. These websites then go and shove it in your face. Websites with bright red or garish green layouts. These websites are a visual nightmare and no web design expert would make these choices, so we can only hope they are caused by pushy clients.

  1. Too Many Fonts

The right choice of font can do a lot for a piece of text. It can be presented in a professional manner (Arial), perhaps with more character (Papyrus) or it can be cartoony to appeal to children (Comic Sans), whilst Sans Serif fonts are theoretically easier to read on-screens.

With all these possibilities it can be difficult to know which to choose. And what if you want a different meaning for each piece of text on-screen? Why, use 30 different fonts of course!

No. Do not do that. I was using sarcasm to illustrate a point. Too many fonts on-screen can be confusing to see as each style is fighting for attention. The text itself loses any flow it has as your eyes jump from font to font, rather than focusing on the content itself.

  1. Music

Music on websites is one of the most memorable aspects of websites from the early 2000s. MySpace was the most prominent of the offenders, with the ability to add your own song to your profile. The idea was to help give visitors an idea of who you are and what your personality is.

People did this for years, despite knowing that any time they went onto someone else’s profile, the first thing they did was turn off whatever awful music was playing. Adding music to your web page is distracting and anything you choose is unlikely to appeal to every (or any) visitor you get. Most importantly, however, is that it changes the users first thought from:

“What a lovely website. What should I look at first?” into

“How on earth do I turn this dreadful music of?”

That is known as “Starting off on the wrong foot”.

Link Building Simplified

1. Know What Keywords to target

From your keyword research have your top 5 or 10 keyword phrases ready to use these in your link anchor text

(you have done keyword research, right? If not stop link building and go back a step or 3 … do your keyword research!  )

So for example I would use Web Design Australia as a link rather than (say) the straight URL webdesignspecialist.com.au or even the company name Web Design Specialist. Yes you want to rank well for your company name but unless its something that you know people are going to search for you’re better off concentrate on the keyphrases instead.

2. Focus your link building strategy

There’s a LOT of ways to build back-links.  Some of these are

  1. BLOGGING. (my favourite)
  2. directory submission (Dmoz, Yahoo Directory, etc)
  3. article submission (- like this one !!)
  4. press releases (PRWeb.com)
  5. social media outlets (FaceBook, Linked In)
  6. bookmarking sites (Digg, Reddit, Furl)
  7. Forums (niche forums)

 If time is limited (isn’t it always!) pick one or two from the list and really work at it. Focus on those 1 or 2 areas and build up an expertise in them.  (For me I find blogging gives the best return ). The key it to focus… otherwise you can spread yourself too thin and get no appreciable results from anything

3. Find Authority sites and get links from them.

Most Search engines see links back to your site as a “vote of confidence” for your site. But that’s not the whole story – if only it were !

The more relevant and authoritative the site providing the link back is, the more weight is given to the link.

It’s not always easy (or cheap) try and get links from sites that are in a related or similar field to yours. But  it’s well worth it. It can count as valuable as a dozen or a hundred “not related” links.

Example of what is a “relevant link” : for me as a web designer a paid link in a web designer directory or a link from a hosting company would be valuable. To an online clothing store these links would be considerably less valuable ( since they are not thematically linked to the clothing industry)

About Basics of Link Building

Relevant – If you want strong links to your site then you need relevant links from web pages that contain content which is relevant to your own website. For example you do not want to build links to a logo design website from a page about wooden fences! This is a bad move. You need links from relevant and authentic web pages, it’s that simple.

Keywords – The most important thing you need before beginning any seo / link building journey is a list of relevant keywords / search terms that people use to find websites such as your own. If you created your list of keywords / search terms in a matter of minutes you probably did it wrong. Many people make the mistake of picking the most obvious search terms / keywords but these terms usually have many competitors all fighting to get to the top of the Google and Yahoo listings. A new website stands little chance of building a strong online presence when they try to compete with the bigger websites that have been online for years. You need to be realistic about your chances of obtaining a position in the search engines that will be beneficial to you. Fortunately though for the smaller websites while the big websites are fighting over the giant search terms, small websites can focus on the niche keywords / search terms. For example if you have a website about Search Engine Optimisation, then rather that building links for the search term ‘Search Engine Optimisation’ you could try involving the area in which you offer this service, for example you could have ‘Web Design Leicester’ for your key phrase and you would stand a far greater chance of achieving a listing in the search engines that will provide visitors to your website. There are lots of these keyword niches so it is often a good idea to have a few niche key phrases that will generate a reasonable amount of visitors to your website or ‘traffic’ as it is known in the SEO industry. You should build your links to your website from other websites containing your niche keywords.

Indexed – Not all pages on the internet are indexed / read by the search engines. In fact lots of web pages that you can build links from will not be indexed. This means that your links will also not be read by the search engines and from an SEO point of view this is not good. If the links are not indexed then they will not count. Although it can be good to have links from popular websites that do not offer indexed pages as if the pages have a lot of visitors they can click through to your site but this will not strengthen your website in the eyes of the search engines it will only send a number of visitors to your website and this number is usually very small. To check if the blog or article website you are building links from will be indexed you need to look at the source code for the web page this will tell you if the page will be indexed or not. If the page contain no follow / index instructions to the search engines then the page will not be indexed and neither will your links that you build from that page.

Page Rank – Page Rank or PR as it is known in the SEO trade is a score that Google awards your website based on how important Google feels your website to be. Many people get too obsessive over Page Rank but it can serve as a good indication of how your website is doing with respect to its SEO in comparison to other websites. The Page Rank or PR which Google awards to each page on a website is marked out of 10. It is almost impossible to achieve a PR 10 and it is very unlikely that a PR of 9 will be achieved by a business website (PR 9 is more realistic for massive websites like Facebook and Myspace). A realistic PR to aim for would be a PR 4 or PR 5 website. Page Ranks are achievable of higher but this is really for individuals and businesses that really understand the world of SEO and work many hours to achieve the results. It is usually not necessary to have an extremely high Page Rank though for Business services and you can easily find your website top of the Google and Yahoo listings with only a PR 2 if you choose the right Key phrase.

Non Harmful – Building links to your websites is generally a safe business but there are a few circumstances to avoid. The first is to not only join blogs just to post comments that are only intended to build links. Try posting useful informative comments about the subject. You should try to enjoy blogging rather than just spamming / ruining the blog for everybody else by posting meaningless links (to humans) just to achieve better search engine results. If you are optimising for ‘web design Leicester’ you shouldn’t use this in your name, as this becomes the link and it will become clear you are just spamming. You may also be thrown off the blog website if you are not respectful towards it. They are there to provide useful information and to be an enjoyable experience not just for link building.

Design Links

Description on the Link: Use specific and relevant description on the link. The link description should brief all the information of the contents in it or the pages. This is very important, as the users will not waste their time clicking links after links to get the information they need. If you are using embedded link make sure that the link description helps them to predict about the destination the link corresponds.

Underlining Links: Underlining links can be avoided at some cases. It is true that the underlined links in color always states that it is clickable link. However, it is not important to have all the links underlined on the web pages. In case you have a web page with a list of menu, where clicking each title will take you to its corresponding destination. In these cases, you can avoid the links, as it will look too odd to find so many underlines on the web page.

Colors for Links: This is most important factor considering links. It is important that you have separate colors for visited and unvisited links on the website. The simple method to get this done is changing the contrast of the color. In most cases, links will have bright colors and to make it stand out of the remaining text. With that said, you can have a darker color for the unvisited links and the same color with less contrast for the visited links. This will help the user to identify the visited links.

Remove Footer Links in WordPress

1. Some Templates are simple. Footer Links can be found easily on footer.php ( I assumed you know how to locate your footer.php). Just delete the annoying Links inserted by the Theme Designer.

2. Some Templates are simple but it is coded. Usually Template Designers code their Links, They commonly used based64 encoder to hide their Links. There are two methods to follow.

a. Again, just delete the strange looking contents on the footer.php (cut and paste the deleted contents on a notepad for back up purposes in case failure) and update your theme. Check your website if its fine. If it fails proceed to the second method.

b. You need to decode the strange looking contents using base64 decoder. After you decoded the footer, replace the “coded contents” with the “decoded contents” and delete the undesirable links that you don’t like.

note: If it fails to decode, the designer used other coding method and It wishes you really not to mess with its design.

3. Some Templates are Tricky. Sometimes you can not see any signature links of the designer on footer.php, but instead they hide it inside Theme Functions (functions.php). Look inside functions.php not on footer.php the footer links that you like to be removed and adopt again steps 1 or 2 if you can’t follow.

note: If you are familiar with the famous WP THESIS theme, they used this tactic.

4. Some Footer Links are meant to be there. Designers make it hard for users to remove, If you like their design, they offer you a Fee for the removal of their Signature Links.