Web Design – Costly Mistakes to Avoid

Web Design MistakesWhen designing your website, your main aim should be to improve the user experience of your visitors. When people have an easy time on your site, they are likely to come back for more and even refer others. However, many designers make mistakes which not only drive visitors away, but also destroy their credibility.

Here are some of the most common web design mistakes that should be avoided.

1. Slow loading pages

Web users would enjoy browsing a site which has fast loading pages. Most people don’t have the patience to wait around until a web page finishes loading. If it takes too long, they are likely to leave and go elsewhere. Therefore, don’t make the mistake of having slow loading pages which only contribute to a poor user experience. Generally, pages load slowly due to large or excess graphics or animations. Therefore, it would be advisable to keep the number and size of graphics on your site at a minimum.

2. Large or small text

Having text which is too tiny on web pages is another common mistake which designers make. Such text is usually very difficult to read. On the other hand, some designers have very large text on their pages which looks unprofessional and unattractive. To avoid making similar mistakes, take time to check the size of text used on popular sites out there. In addition, you could ask different people to read the text on your site. This will enable you to choose a size which would be comfortable for readers of all ages.

3. Poor color combinations

An attractive and harmonious color scheme plays a key role in creating a pleasant user experience. Therefore, when it comes to web design, having poor color combinations is unforgivable. Generally, it would be advisable to keep your color scheme as basic as possible. For instance, simply having a white background with back text can look very professional and attractive to visitors. Such a color scheme also makes your standard link colors very visible. To enhance the appearance of your web pages, you could add one or two colorful graphics.

4. Pop-up windows

Pop-up windows that appear immediately you land on a web page can be very annoying. In addition, they are an unnecessary distraction for visitors who have to close them first before accessing the web page. As a web designer, your main purpose should be to allow visitors to enjoy the content on your site. Pop-up windows draw the attention of visitors away from your site’s content and might cause them to leave permanently. In addition, such windows make your site look unprofessional and might be associated with spamming.

5. Links opening in the same browser window or tab

Some sites have links that open in the same browser window or tab, while others have links that open in a new window or tab. Most web users would prefer the latter option which offers a more pleasant user experience. This option allows them to access information in the new window or tab, and still be able to refer to the earlier web page. This ensures a more organized browsing experience for your visitors.

Web Design – Tips for Staying Inspired and Current

Web DesignThe field of web design is constantly changing, with new technologies being developed every day. Therefore, to stay competitive and relevant, every designer must strive to keep up with the new developments in the industry. Here are some tips which will help you remain inspired and current.

1. Explore a new idea with each project

Instead of trying to grasp every new technology all at once, it would be more advisable to learn one thing at a time. For every new project you undertake, apply a new technique. For instance, you could try out the latest coding technique or WordPress plug-in. This approach makes it easier for you to learn and master new technologies. In addition, it avoids monotony and predictability in your work.

2. Teach others

One of the best ways of keeping yourself updated on new technologies is by looking for opportunities to teach others. Seeking to educate others will compel you to carry out some research so as to have a good understanding of concepts. This in turn will enable you to pass information in clear way to your audience. Teaching can be done through commenting in forums, writing tutorials, private consultations or blogging. In addition, you could offer in-depth teaching on a specific subject by writing an eBook or publishing a podcast. Besides just offering valuable information, you could also make an extra income through teaching others.

3. Read widely

Reading is a great way of staying informed on new developments in web design. You can get a lot of fresh and quality material from websites, podcasts, blogs, magazines and screencasts. However, don’t only read content from the specific resources. To stay inspired and informed, you should always be on the lookout for new sources of information.

4. Browse galleries and showcases

Browse galleries and showcases can offer lots of insight on new trends in the world of web design. For instance, one of the areas that has evolved significantly is web design for mobile devices. There are many new concepts that have been developed for coding and creating interfaces for small screens. However, the idea is not to copy what others are doing, but to derive inspiration from it. When you see what others are doing, you will be motivated to be more creative and versatile.

5. Network with others

Building a relationship with others in the industry can be a very effective way of learning new things. Engage people in social media and participate in different forums discussions. Share information which might be helpful to others and ask questions where you need clarification. Such interactions will enable you to stay up to date on new developments in the industry.

 

The Benefits of Website Usability Testing

Website UsabilityUsability testing is vital for the success of any site. Testing the usability of your site will ensure a pleasant user experience for your visitors. Here are some of the benefits of website usability testing.

1. Uncovers problematic areas in your site

Usability testing enables you to find out exactly which areas in your site have a problem. For instance, if you have an ecommerce site, usability testing could help you discover a high shopping cart drop-out rate. This could be due to a lengthy or complicated checkout process, high prices or inadequate product information. Once the reason is clear, you can then take the necessary steps towards dealing with this problem.

2. Enhances your visitors’ brand experience

Improving your website usability will give visitors a pleasant experience of your brand. However, if visitors have a negative experience on your site, they are likely to leave and never return. Some of the usability issues that would put off your visitors include:

  • Misspellings
  • Broken links
  • Messy layout
  • Poor grammar
  • Site errors

3. Enhances visitor retention rate

Some people who land on your homepage will exit your site without visiting any other page. Website usability testing will help you figure out the reasons for poor visitor retention. The following are some of the reasons why your site could be losing many visitors:

  • Your homepage loads too slowly
  • People cannot figure out what your site is all about
  • Visitors are not able to find what they are looking for on your site
  • Your site requires users to download a plug-in before accessing the content

Some of the most effective visitor retention tactics include:

  • Grabbing the attention of visitors with exit pop-up ads
  • Offering frequent updates on the homepage. This will enhance the chances of people returning, even if they don’t visit any other page
  • Offering a great giveaway on the homepage

Usability testing gives you some insight into how visitors use your site and how they think. Having this understanding of your visitors will enable you to offer what they really need.

4. Boosts sales and profits

When usability testing enhances visitors’ brand experience, lowers the shopping cart drop-out rate and enhances visitor retention rate, the ultimate result is an increase in your sales and profits. To enhance your bottom line, you need to ask yourself the following questions:

  • Are the people you are targeting likely to purchase your product?
  • Can visitors find information on your products fast and easily?
  • Is the information currently available sufficient?
  • If you are selling physical products, have u provided clear photographs?
  • When customers make a decision to buy, how easy is the checkout process?

Blog Roll Basics

blog rollA blog roll refers to a list of blogs which you find useful and would like to share with your audience. This normally involves listing the name of the blog, as well as providing a link to it. For instance, if your blog is about home improvement, you could have a blog roll with links to other related blogs or sites. This will enable your readers to find more information on the same subject. If you wish, you could also include a short description of the blog along with a few links to some great posts. In most cases, the blog roll appears on the homepage of a blog. However, you could opt to create a separate static page for your list.

When you decide to have such a list on your blog, you need to consider what kind of blog roll you want, how often you will update it and who will be listed on it.

  1. Type of blog roll

The first thing you need to do is figure out the kind of blog roll you would want to share with your readers. It could be a list of blogs in your niche or simply a list of your personal favorites. In case your blog is targeting a local audience, you could list some blogs in your town or city. These are just a few of the possibilities which you could consider for your blog roll.

  1. Frequency of updating

Most bloggers assume that once they create a blog roll, their work is done. This is a big mistake. If visitors to your blog always find the same list on your blog roll, they might lose interest and stop visiting that page. However, keeping your blog roll fresh will enable you to retain the attention of your readers.

  1. Who to include

Deciding which blogs to include on your list can be a very difficult decision. Since you cannot always have an all inclusive list, it’s inevitable that some blogs will be left out. This might upset some bloggers who would have wanted to be listed. However, having a short list is the best way to go. In the course of time, you can always update it and list a different set of blogs.

Once you have decided who to include in your blog roll, you need to get in touch with the blog owner and let them know that you are considering adding them to your blog roll. Though most blog owners would not have a problem getting listed, it is just courteous to get their consent first. Make sure you send out a message of appreciation to anyone who allows you to list them on your blog roll. However, it wouldn’t be advisable to ask the other blogger for a reciprocal link. In most cases, the blogger you want to include on your list has a blog which has more popularity and traffic than yours. Therefore, they might not be particularly interested in linking to you

How to Protect Your WordPress Blog from Hackers

wordpress securityNowadays, hacking has become an increasingly major concern for many WordPress blog owners all over the world. Hundreds of blogs fall victim on a daily basis to attacks by hackers who have become more sophisticated in their ways. These hackers are motivated by a wide range of reasons, ranging from pure malice to the desire to hijack your Google ranking for their benefit.

So, how would you know that your blog has been hacked? At times, it might be very obvious that your blog has been violated. However, in most cases, it is not easy to tell whether you are a victim of hacking. The following are a few indications that your blog might have been hacked:

  • Your blog suddenly loads more slowly
  • Your page rank drops unexplainably
  • Strange links suddenly appear on your blog
  • Your level of traffic drops for no apparent reason
  • A Google search for your blog yields strange descriptions and titles

Hackers use different strategies to attack a blog. In most cases, they will start by attempting to hack your admin password, FTP password or database password. Once they manage to crack any of your passwords, they will then seek to take advantage of any susceptibility in the WordPress installation or plug-ins. The hackers will either alter your files, place malicious code in your database or add new scripts to operate their malware. In addition, they might also open a fake WordPress admin account which will not be visible in the admin page.

So, how can you make your blog less vulnerable to attack? Here are some tips which will help you protect your blog from hackers:

  • Vary your WordPress admin password, FTP password and database password. It would be advisable to use complex passwords which are not less than 10 characters long. To be safe, make sure your passwords comprise of a combination of special characters, upper and lower case, as well as numbers
  • Once you have opened a WordPress account, delete the default admin account immediately. You can then go ahead to open a new admin account with a unique name. However, don’t make the mistake of giving the account your name or the name of your blog since this can easily be guessed by hackers
  • Remember to constantly update your WordPress installation as well as plug-ins. Anytime you find a notification on your dashboard about a WordPress update that has just been released, make sure you update right away
  • Don’t allow unauthorized people to access your wp-admin folder. It would also be advisable to change your admin password occasionally. This will enable you to stay a step ahead of any hackers targeting your blog