How to Prototype Website Ideas Fast

rp_Ecommerce-marketing-300x168.jpgIt’s often said that creating a working prototype of something before you start building the intended result will save you a significant amount of time in the long run, as although this seems counter-productive (you’d expect yourself to save time if you missed out the prototyping element), you’ll come up against many less problems later on if you first encourage (and overcome) them in the prototyping stage.

Your depth of knowledge in this area, and the time you want to spend on it, will play large factors in the types of prototyping you decide to ultimately move towards. If you want to get your website online as soon as possible, using a free website builder is always a good idea, as you can build your prototype as you go, eventually publishing the finished result when you’re happy with it.

If you have more time, and indeed a greater knowledge of the process of website creation (you’ve created several in the past), you may wish to go the slightly longer route, slowly building up the idea in your head into a full, working prototype that can be used as an accurate model of what your final website design should look like.

When going through the website prototyping process you’ll want to work your way up, allowing yourself to make as many mistakes as possible in the beginning, as the sooner you make mistakes, the easier they are to fix. For this reason, it’s recommend that you:

Create Pencil Drawings

Drawing out prototype ideas in pen or pencil doesn’t get the credit it’s due; there’s nothing more versatile than a blank sheet of paper, as it allows you to really spill the contents of your brain onto it, without the usual constraints that come with advanced design or prototyping software.

Drawing your initial website prototype in pencil allows you to:

  • Get the main points of your website down,
  • Not be constrained by digital barriers,
  • Not overly commit to one single idea; giving everything a chance to shine,
  • Start over (roll the paper into a ball) anytime.

Build Digital Mockups (Wire-framing)

Once you’ve drawn an initial website design that you’re happy with you should move onto building digital mockups of your design (also called wire-framing) to make sure everything you’ve drawn out can fit into defined spaces.

There are certain guidelines that all website designers much follow, and this is the perfect time to figure out who your website is aimed towards so you can start following these guidelines. Building websites with elderly users in mind, for example, is an entirely different process to building websites with teenagers and twenty-somethings in mind.

Create an Interactive Prototype

Lastly you’ll want to create an interactive prototype using a prototyping framework, such as Bootstrap, to build a prototype that can be reviewed and played around within your browser. This is the most important step of all, because at this point your website prototype is being created on the same code basis that it’ll eventually be released on.

If you have a delicate design that can be shifted around depending on the words or images that are placed into it this is the perfect opportunely for you to add your website copy and any relevant images; as these may reveal some failings in your prototype that you’ll have to address before launching your final website.

In conclusion, building a working prototype of your website before you start building the finished product will save you a significant amount of time in the long run, as it’ll allow you to fail often in the early stages of your prototype, saving you time later on.

How Businesses Can Use Social Media Images Effectively

TutorialWhen it comes to digital marketing, images are very important. Images will grab the attention of your audience, send a clear message and encourage engagement. Nowadays, with mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets, it is very easy to take photos and instantly upload them to your social media profiles. Here are some of the ways businesses can use social media images:

1. Showcase your product

Share clear and sizeable photos showing customers what your product looks like. If the product is multi-dimensional, have several photos displaying it from different angles. In addition, you could share photos showing how the product can be used.

2. Celebrate an achievement

Whenever your business achieves a specific milestone, you need to share the good news with your customers and prospects. You can do this by posting images celebrating your success. For instance, if you’ve received an award, you could share photos from the award-giving ceremony.

3. Go behind the scenes

Many of your customers would be interested in knowing what goes into creating the products and services you offer. Therefore, you could consider posting photos showing what happens behind the scenes. For example, if you are in the construction industry, share photos highlighting every step of the building process.

4. Highlight your customers

One of the best ways of promoting your brand is by showing photos of customers using your products or services. However, be sure to get the consent of your customers before posting their photo on social media. And don’t forget to tag them.

5. Showcase your team

Sharing photos of your team gives your company a human face and makes it easier to connect with customers. For instance, you could post photos showing your team at work. This will communicate to customers that you are passionate about what you do. You could accompany individual photos with a short profile about the team member.

6. Show them what they missed

Whenever you have an event, remember to take as many photos as possible. Sharing such photos on social media will give your audience an idea of what they missed. In return, this could enhance their chances of attending the next event.

7. Share fun ideas

Teaching something new and fun using images can be a very effective way of building relationships with your audience. Such information is likely to be shared with others, thus attracting even more customers and fans.

8. Support a worthy cause

People are usually drawn to businesses which embrace the same values as themselves. Therefore, if your business is involved in supporting a specific cause, it will naturally attract people who are passionate about the same cause. Therefore, be sure to share images showing how your business supports a cause. This will increase your fan base, and ultimately your customer base.

9. Highlight other businesses

You can promote other businesses by sharing photos of their products, services or events. This can be a very effective way of building strong relationships with other businesses. In return, they are also likely to offer you exposure to their own networks.

10. Offer a glimpse of the past

Whether it has been around for months or years, every business has a story behind it. Take time to share photos showing customers where you are coming from. Such photos could be posted once a week on a day like ‘Throwback Thursday’. This will help build a stronger connection with your audience.

Conclusion

These are just a few ideas for using social media images effectively. Applying these strategies consistently can have a significant effect on your business’ bottom line.

Tips for Improving Website User Experience

ecommerce nicheYour website is much more than just a platform to advertise your services or products. In fact, for many customers, it’s the primary point of contact between themselves and your business, outside of your actual physical, bricks-and-mortar shop or service centre.

It is therefore vital that your customers have a pleasant user experience both at their initial point of contact, as well as during their return visits. To ensure that your customer’s experience remains positive, it is always worth regularly testing your site to check for areas that could be improved upon or possibly even redesigned.

If you aren’t sure which areas of your website could be improved to offer a better user experience, here are a few ideas that could help to get you started.

1.  Loading Speed

For many people, your website loading time is a very important factor. According to the dedicated analytics service KISSmetrics, 40% of users leave a website if it takes more than three seconds to load. This, of course, is a very important factor, and one that is certainly worth looking into.

2. Reliability

Your website is only as reliable as your hosting service. If you use a budget hosting service, there is every chance that the reliability of the provider may occasionally come into question. There are lots of hosting providers that offer good reliable services. You can check customer’s reviews to find one that that is suitable for your requirements.

3. Correct Spelling and Grammar Mistakes

To make sure that your message is clear to all of your customers, it is important that your spelling and grammar is correct. Poor grammar and spelling mistakes can lead to misunderstandings, as well as not being conducive to good SEO results.

4.  General Usability 

Usability and easy navigation are key to good user experience. Clear uncluttered pages with easy to use main bar menus can improve the entire user experience. Easy to find home page or back buttons are also important to visitors to your site. Keep it simple and clear for better around functionality.

5. Pop Ups and Overlays

For most off us, pop ups and overlays are annoyances if not even full blown distractions. They do not improve the overall user experience and are best avoided.

6. Images

Good quality images can improve your customer’s user experience. A well-chosen image can compliment copy very well, improving the overall feel of the page. You can find some great royalty free images on Flickr to boost your presentation value.

7. Copy

Good, clear copy can make all of the difference. Keep your copy simple, easy to read, and above all else, to the point. Customers do not want to read long paragraphs to get the information they are after. If your copy appears slightly long-winded, edit it down to a more punchy and concise message.

8. Responsive Designs

More and more people are using their phones or hand held devices to access the Internet. For these people to get the best out of their experience, a website needs to offer them a responsive design. Responsive design offers automatic resizing, which makes both navigation and reading that much easier. If you don’t have responsive design, it would be worth contacting your website designer to find out more.

9.  De-Clutter Your Website

Over time, a website can get cluttered with images, redundant buttons and even banner ads or video. Take a long look at your site and figure out what you can remove to leave a cleaner and more organized platform. The more streamlined the site, the faster it will load and the more user-friendly it will become. At the end of the day, your customers just require an easy to use platform that is uncluttered, simple to navigate, and reliable.

Emma Meyer is writing on a freelance basis for WickedWeb Digital Agency, a company with 10 years of experience in the digital marketing industry.

Guidelines for Successful Sports Blogging

sports2Sports is a discipline that boasts millions of followers worldwide. As a result, there is a high demand for sports updates both online and offline. If you love sports as well as writing, you could consider launching a sports blog. Here are some great guidelines for successful sports blogging.

1. Choose a niche

The first step to starting a sports blog is deciding what you want to write about. It would be advisable to go for a narrow niche rather than a broad topic. For instance, instead of writing about all the teams in the Spanish La Liga, you could choose to focus on one specific team. Alternatively, you could focus on the goal keepers or the youngest players in the league. Finding a unique angle will make you stand out from other sports blogs, and enable you to attract a specific audience. With time, people will begin seeing you as an authority in that niche.

2. Write often

Your readers will want to receive up to date information on a consistent basis. If they don’t get what they are looking for on your blog, they will simply go elsewhere. It is therefore very important to update the content on your blog frequently, preferably daily. Have a consistent schedule for publishing posts. For instance, if you decide to post twice a week, you could schedule your posts to go live on Thursdays and Mondays. This way, your readers will know when to expect updates.

3. Use images

‘A picture is worth a thousand words’. This statement rings true when it comes to sports blogging. Including a clear video clip or image to your post is one of the best ways of capturing the attention of your readers. This will also enhance the chances of your post being shared with others. If you decide to use photos from other sources, remember to give full attribution to the relevant website or photographer.

4. Contribute guest posts

Besides writing for your own blog, it would also be advisable to contribute guest posts to other people’s blogs. Guest posting allows you to build a reputation as an expert in your niche. In addition, it gives you an opportunity to attract more traffic to your own blog.

5. Promote your posts

After publishing posts on your blog, take time to share them on social media networks such as Facebook, Twitter   and Google+. Don’t forget to take advantage of social bookmarking sites such as Digg, StumbleUpon and Tumblr. Sharing your posts will enable you to reach a wider audience. Remember to respond promptly to comments left by your readers.

6. Monitor your progress

There are various tools online that can help you keep track of your blog’s performance. Alexa will show you where your blog ranks among others in the world. Google Analytics will help you keep track of statistics such as the number of page views and bounce rate. Being aware of your blog’s performance will show you what works and what doesn’t.

Conclusion

Building a successful blog takes a lot of hard work, time and dedication. However, if you stick to it long enough, you will reap good returns.

Guidelines for Social Media Marketing

social media marketingIn our time, many businesses are using social media marketing as a tool for promoting their products and services. Social media sites such as Twitter, Google+, Facebook and LinkedIn allow you to reach a wider and targeted audience with your marketing messages. Here are some guidelines which will guarantee the success of your social media marketing efforts.

1. Focus on your audience

Your success in social media marketing will be determined by your ability to meet the needs of your audience. Therefore, take time to establish the needs of your audience. Joining relevant social media forums can give you a good idea of what topics are popular. You could also check out competitors’ social media profiles to find out what is trending.

2. Specialize

Specializing in one area will enhance your chances of success in social media marketing. Don’t be a web design expert today and a home improvement expert tomorrow. This will only end up confusing your audience. Focusing on one area will help you build a strong brand and establish yourself as an authority.

3. Use several social media networks

Don’t focus all your social media marketing efforts on one network. Instead, it would be advisable to leverage on as many social media networks as possible. Sharing your content on varied networks such as Google+, Pinterest, Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn will enable you to reach a wider audience. In return, they are likely to share your content with their connections, thus providing more exposure.

4. Focus on quality

When building a social media following, focus on quality rather than quantity. Having 5,000 connections is quite impressive. However, if most of these followers have no interest in what you have to offer, then these numbers don’t add any value. Your social media campaign would be more effective with 500 followers who actively read, comment on and share your content.

5. Connect with influencers

Within any industry, there are always people who are considered as experts. In most cases, such people have a strong social media following. Once you have identified the influencers in your industry, take time to connect with them. Follow them on Twitter, Facebook or Google+ and build a relationship. Read their posts and leave useful comments. Once in a while, share their content with your followers. With time, such experts might decide to reciprocate by sharing your content with their followers, thus exposing you to a greater audience.

6. Be consistent

Consistency is a very important element of social media marketing. Don’t be active for one day, and then disappear for one month. Being inactive for a long period will only result in losing the interest of your audience. If possible, set aside time everyday to post new content and engage your audience on social media. Be sure to respond promptly to any comments left by your readers. Being consistent will keep your audience coming back for more.

Conclusion

Success in social media marketing does not come overnight. Building a strong social media following could take weeks, months or even years. However, with patience and persistence, you will eventually enjoy the fruits of your labor.