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Five Popular Trends in Website Design for 2014

Five Popular Trends in Website Design for 2014

While a site’s content is certainly more important than its’ design, there’s no doubt that design plays a large role in determining whether potential customers stay on a website, or go elsewhere. The design of a website could be viewed in a similar way to a storefront window: An attractive, creative display will draw customers in, while a cluttered, disorganized one will drive customers away.

Listed below are five particularly popular trends in website design for 2014. Being aware of these trends can help designers to create websites that will appeal to their target audiences, and thus generate sales:

Grid Style Layout

It is worth mentioning that the grid style layout is not suitable for all types of websites. However, it can be perfect for e-stores, photography websites and other, similar sites.

The grid style became popular when Pinterest starting using it on its’ platform. Since then, other popular websites have adapted and modified it for their own use. The grid style makes it easy for users to scan a site for information, and find what they are looking for quickly and easily. Also, it is visually appealing, so it keeps people on a site for a longer time, compared to what would otherwise be the case.

Focused Landing Pages

There was a time when a webmaster only had to create a single page for his or her website. That time is long past. Anyone who is serious about selling stuff online will need to create focused, targeted landing pages for each of his or her most important products.

Doing this serves multiple purposes. In terms of design, it enables webmasters to reduce clutter, as each page only deals with a single topic, rather than several or more related topics. Targeted, focused landing pages are also ideal for SEO, as Google prefers sites to use targeted landing pages, as opposed to a general home page for on-site and off-site links. Additionally, studies have shown that linking online advertisements to a focused landing page, rather than a general one, increases sales and profits. This tactic makes it easy for people to find what they are looking for, without having to do a website search.

HTML5 Video Players

While including video content on a website is a good way to attract customers, Flash video players are no longer nearly as popular as they once were. Nowadays, more and more webmasters are switching over to HTML5 video players. These players display high quality content, and only take up a modest amount of bandwidth. This ensures that a site will load quickly, even if there are large photos and/or other graphics displayed on the page.

Another important reason for using HTML5 is the fact that Flash is not compatible with most mobile phone devices. This means that sites that use Flash are unable to reach tens of millions of people, who use their mobile phones to browse the Internet and shop online.

Personal Portraits

People do not only want to find out about a product, they want get to know the person behind it as well. A personal portrait is a great way to connect with customers, and it adds a friendly touch to any website. Such a portrait can be included on the home page, about page, or even along with blog articles on the site. The photo should be clear and convey the image that the owner wants to convey (i.e. casual, friendly and professional, etc).

Mega Navigation Menus

Mega navigation menus are ideal for sites that have a lot of content. As the name implies, these menus enable a user to see a large number of links on a single page, thus making it easier to find appealing products and/or articles.

The goal of being aware of modern, popular website design trends is not to create clone sites that look the same as everyone else’s. Instead, being aware of these trends, and other popular design innovations, can enable webmasters to broaden their horizons, and use new, cutting edge techniques to create websites that are easy to use, and visually appealing to their target audiences.

Why Creating a WordPress Child Theme is Always a Good Idea

Why Creating a WordPress Child Theme is Always a Good Idea

Thanks to its power and notable flexibility, WordPress is a popular site design choice with webmasters of all experience levels. One often overlooked aspect of WordPress is the use of child themes. Most designers, who understand the benefits of these themes, are keen to take advantage of them. The benefits of using a child theme all relate to ease-of-use in some way. Child themes greatly facilitate the creation and maintenance of fresh and interesting websites. This frees designers to focus more on creativity, which is a big plus. The caveat is that child themes require a good parent theme, to provide the many benefits that are sought.

Ease of Initial Development

With a good parent theme to use as a framework, a child theme offers webmasters the opportunity to concentrate on the style of a site’s design. The high level of functionality included with a good parent theme, means less time spent on aspects like optimizing a site for search engine traffic. Often, designers waste time trying to reinvent the functions that are expected of modern websites. With these elements of a site ready for use, designers can direct all their development efforts towards creating a website presence that is unique and fresh.

Ease of Customization

A child theme is the best option for a site with a dynamic appearance and dynamic content. Frequent style and function modifications create the risk of inadvertent damage to a theme. However, if a designer applies numerous changes to a child theme, the parent theme remains intact. If errors or an unforeseen problem occurs, the webmaster has the convenient option of reverting to the parent theme, until corrections or a new plan for the theme can be implemented.

Ease of Securing the Site

Eventually, all webmasters have to install security patches, or updates for their site software. The need for vigilant security is a reality of operating a website. With a WordPress theme, the dilemma is that customizations are overwritten when the theme is updated. Even if they understand the importance of updating themes, many web designers cringe at the idea of losing custom changes, due to a security flaw that must be addressed. When modifying a child theme however, it is a simple task to safely update the main theme, when that becomes necessary. A webmaster can keep the site secure, without risking customizations that took hard work to implement.

Ease of Updating

Just as the need to update a theme due to security concerns is inevitable, new editions and upgrades to a theme will become available periodically. New or improved functionality is often a bonus of updating a theme, but sometimes it is a competitive necessity. Typically, updating the parent theme will offer website visitors an improved experience. By using a child theme, webmasters can do this while still maintaining all their previous modifications. Thanks to the range of strategic options available, regarding the application of customizations, site designers do not have to choose between their own site modifications, and the improved features that come with updating the parent theme.

Ease of Creating Child Themes

It is becoming increasingly easier to create a child theme. There are a number of plugins available that take the time and work out of generating these themes, and applying changes to them. Site designers can experiment with the various plugins, and the process of modifying the new child themes they create. Webmasters can quickly begin working on new child themes, safe in the knowledge that the parent themes will be available and unchanged, should it be necessary to revert back to them for some reason.

It is easy to underestimate the potential of a site powered by WordPress. Once a savvy designer gets to work though, the possibilities become more evident. The direction taken with a site design begins with the theme selected. At this point, the designer must decide between directly modifying a theme, and creating a child theme to adapt as desired. What many webmasters come to realize is that a well designed WordPress parent theme, which can serve as a framework for a child theme, gives them the best of both worlds. This option allows designers to create the customized experience they envision, and also secure their websites and take advantage of parent theme improvements as they become available.

Current CSS3 Design Trends

Current CSS3 Design Trends

Sometimes, it is hard to tell which web design trends will be fleeting ̵ as the word “trend” itself implies ̵ and which will become established practices. Happily, there is a place for both kinds of trends, and they often work together to keep websites fresh, interesting and constantly improving in functionality. Some trends reflect current tastes in aesthetic appeal and visual interest, but others mark a technological evolution in the tools and delivery of high quality websites.

Large-Scale Graphics

Typically, graphics are not the first thing to spring to mind, when CSS3 is mentioned in relation to web design. However, this is becoming more common. Nowadays, designers can use CSS3 to create and present graphics in a remarkable way. Bold and striking graphics that make a website memorable are a current aesthetic trend. Thoughtfully incorporated, large graphics and even background video can make a powerful statement. Some of the graphics that designers can devise now with CSS3 could be mistaken for creations crafted in Photoshop.

Spectacular Text

Similarly, bold typography can make a strong, positive impression on site visitors. CSS3 makes it possible to apply a number of creative and impressive effects to page text. Remarkably, some of the stunning effects and bold text possible can be done without the use of any Javascript, or base images. The potential is vast, and astute designers are taking advantage and pushing creative boundaries.

Microinteractions

The integration of microinteractions on a website can make a significant impact on the user experience. Rather than just being impressive to view, a site is at its best when users can enjoy a degree of engagement and interaction. The individual interactions must feel natural to website users. They must meet the needs of users too. CSS3 is helping designers to subtly integrate microinteractions, which create an enjoyable user experience that does not feel forced. Users can interact seamlessly, without feeling as though they have been asked to complete a chore.

User Engagement via Storytelling

One application of microinteractions is with the storytelling trend in the use of CSS3. In this design approach, a website actively engages users by telling a story, via the site design and subtle microinteractions. With clever design tools and ideas, a designer can present content in a way that makes meaningful connections to the users. Effective storytelling can evoke responses in site users, making their visits memorable. An imaginative designer can create a compelling setting, characters and storyline using the tools available with CSS3.

Motion

Since the emergence of the Internet to the wider public, motion has fascinated web designers and website visitors alike. Some of the earliest attempts to animate site elements were flashy and often painful to view. They were a novelty, but the true potential for visual interest meant that web designers continued to try. Fortunately, technology has advanced significantly over the years, and it is now easier for designers to create visual interest and motion, which is subtle and appropriate for the site being designed. Today, CSS3 represents a powerful tool designers can use to infuse motion that is elegant and sophisticated.

Mobility and Responsive Design

More than just a current buzzword, responsive design is a whole new approach to serving content to mobile users. Until recently, one of the common approaches was to create a separate mobile website from the primary version meant for desktop or laptop users. The intention was to create an experience that catered to mobile users, and provided what it was assumed they needed. Some attempts were more successful than others, but separate designs for mobile users are no longer necessary. With a responsive design, the site adapts itself to the user visiting. CSS3 media queries make it possible for a page to use different style rules, which are applicable to the device being used. Tailoring the experience to each user is built into the design in this way.

A responsive design approach is clearly one of those trends that will have staying power, as long as Internet users surf the web on a variety of devices. More than a trend, it represents an approach to site design that welcomes the broadest possible visitor base. Inevitably, other design choices will gain and lose popularity, as other trends take hold. Conveniently, tools such as style sheet languages

Three Ways to Improve Your Google Rank in 2014

Three Ways to Improve Your Google Rank in 2014

Google is continually updating its algorithm, which means that the SEO tips and tricks that worked well in times past, may not be effective today. What is more, some old SEO tactics can be downright harmful to a website, causing a business owner to miss out on reaching potential visitors and customers.

Listed below are three tried and proven ways to improve a website’s Google rank in 2014. These tips may take some time and work to implement, but the results are sure to be more than worth it:

Choose Keywords With Care

As more and more businesses take to the web in an effort to reach customers, the competition for any given keyword is steadily rising. Even so, it is possible to find keywords that not only have the potential to be lucrative, but are reasonably affordable to purchase online advertisements for. These keywords should be used throughout the website too, particularly for title tags and headers.

The first step in finding keywords is to identify what the business should be best known for. Next, a business owner can find variations of these initial keywords, using a keyword generation tool. After this, Google Analytics and other free keyword tools can be used to see how much traffic and competition each keyword phrase has.

Build Links the Right Way

Because many companies used underhand link building tactics in the past, the concept of link building has received a bad name. Even so, building the right links is imperative to the success of any website.

There are two key factors to keep in mind when building links. First of all, a link from a high ranking, authoritative site will have much more impact than a dozen links from sites of questionable quality. Those who want to build links would do well to target highly relevant websites and blogs, which have a high Google ranking for the keywords that have been identified.

Another important point to keep in mind is that link building must look organic, if it is to be successful. This means that a person will need to create various types of links over an extended period of time, in order to gain a high Google ranking. One effective way to do this is to target a range of different websites. A successful link building plan may look something like this:

• Create and upload several videos on YouTube, and add a link at the bottom of each one.
• Write two or three guest blog posts, and add one or two links inside each post.
• Send out a press release, with a link at the end.

Aside from creating links on different types of websites, a person will want to use various types of anchor text as well, to link back to his or her own site. Furthermore, most (if not all) of the links should be for the inner pages of the website, rather than the home page.

Use a Responsive Design

Bounce rate plays a large role in determining a site’s ranking. There are many reasons why a person may opt to leave a site, after spending only a few seconds on it. However, one of the main reasons is that the site has design flaws that make it difficult to use. Common flaws include slow load time, the site not being compatible with mobile phones, unclear text and confusing layout.

If the site takes too long to load, then certain aspects will need to be reworked. Often, animations and large graphics are one reason why a site will not load quickly. Black text on a white background is always best, and webmasters should also ensure that the text font is easy to read. Additionally, each landing page should be easy to browse and have a clear call to action.

Boosting a site’s ranking in Google is not easy. It will take time, hard work and even an investment of money. Furthermore, a webmaster whose site already has a high ranking will need to work hard to keep that ranking. Even so, the payoff of all this work and effort is more than worth it. As millions of people use Google to find what they need and want, a high Google ranking for a website

Is Your Old Website Hurting Your Business?

Is Your Old Website Hurting Your Business?

Having a website is a must for any business that is serious about getting customers. However, one fact that many business owners fail to realize is that a poorly made or even simply outdated website can do a company more harm than good. Listed below are three ways in which a website can damage a company’s standing online, and turn off potential customers:

Failure to Update

Your website must be updated on a regular basis, so that it accurately reflects what your company is doing and offering right now. There is hardly anything that will repel potential customers faster, than discovering that some portions of your site are out of date.

Updating a website has to do with not only design, but also with the website content. It is important for your site to clearly display what you are selling, and at what price. Also, your site should provide the relevant contact information. Adding modern features, such as a live chat service and a “contact us” page, makes it easy for potential clients to get in touch.

Non-Existent or Poor Social Media Integration

People enjoy using social media, as is evidenced by the fact that there are over one billion Facebook users alone. A site that has little to no social media integration puts a business in a bad light. It suggests that the business in question does not truly care about the website, because all reputable modern businesses have a social media presence. Therefore, prospective customers are likely to infer that the company does not care about its’ products and/or services either.

Adding social media integration to your site does not mean that you need to add social sharing buttons for dozens of social networks. Indeed, doing this would be counterproductive, as it would make your site look cluttered. However, your website should have social sharing buttons for the most popular social media sites, including Facebook, Google + and Twitter. If your products cater to women and/or are visually appealing, you will probably want to add a Pinterest sharing button as well.

Lack of Functionality

Even a good looking website can lose potential customers, if it does not function properly. Some common website functionality issues include:

• A site taking too long to load.
• The site in question not being mobile phone compatible, thus rendering it unusable for the growing number of smartphone Internet users.
• Bad links (i.e. internal links on a site that direct to 404 pages).
• Difficult to use shopping cart.
• Lack of varied payment options.
• No SSL security for e-store websites.

Thankfully, functionality problems are not difficult to fix, with a bit of time and hard work. In fact, business owners can fix the majority of problems themselves, although hiring a professional to do the work is often the fastest and most efficient course of action.

If a site loads slowly and cannot be viewed on mobile phone devices, then it may be time to switch to a new web hosting service. Many web hosts now offer free mobile phone compatibility for websites, ensuring that business owners are able to reach mobile phone Internet users. Also, a good web host will ensure that a site does not take too long to load, providing the site has been properly designed.

Adding a functional, easy to use shopping cart is not overly difficult either. There are many services to pick from, making it easy for you to find the one that best suits the needs of your online store. Better still, SSL security can be obtained from a number of providers.

Adding a variety of payment options may be a bit of a challenge, as you will need to sign up for multiple merchant services. However, the cost is more than worth it, because you will be able to attract more customers than ever before.

Simply having a website for your business is no longer enough. Because the Internet is an increasingly competitive arena, you need to make sure that your website is up to date, easy to use and offers proper social media integration. If your site is doing poorly in any of the above mentioned areas, it will not only be less visible to potential customers, but actually drive them away