This month the Rainmaker Digital team is rolling out a brand new offering called “StudioPress Sites and holy cow they might just have something special here.
I’ve long been a fan of StudioPress and the Genesis Framework and was even a beta user for Genesis back in the day. When the Rainmaker Platform arrived I dug into that as well and was highly impressed with the beautiful admin panel and ease of use.
Let’s hit the hottest questions on StudioPress Sites so you can get the rundown on what they are, who they are designed for, and why you might want to use them.
What are StudioPress Sites?
StudioPress Sites are built on the WordPress software platform, but they are different in the fact that they don’t reside within WordPress.com and they don’t have to be hosted with WordPress.org software at a third party hosting company. Say what?
In other words, StudioPress Sites have the power of WordPress but they don’t require the maintenance and upkeep associated with self hosted websites or blogs.
This distinction is important because
I’m a strong believer in preparing website content before initiating graphic design and this applies to both websites and blogs. Some will argue with me, but I’ll fight this battle and dig in because I know content before website design is the right approach.
Strong website design extends past colors, fonts, and layout boxes.
Strong design focuses on the user.
Website design should be crafted around the user, their needs, and the desired outcome of a website visit. It should be focused on the user’s challenges and the website’s ability to solve these issues.
It should not be focused on coding trends and prepackaged templates.
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.
On Friday I had to laugh. A sad laugh that is brought on by the strong desire not to cry.
Within 48 hours I had received three different pieces of communication from people speaking negatively about their website developers. Which is beyond frustrating since this is my profession and we’ve been working with WordPress development for over seven years.
Does a website design and development project really need to be filled with trials, tribulations, and ongoing angst? Can the process ever go smoothly and within the expectations set prior to money changing hands?
Yes it can, but these successes are never the stories we hear about.
My communication this week made me think of the phrase “trials and tribulations” and it took my back to Sunday school and listening to Bible verses from Corinthians or Romans. So much disappointment and struggles fills these project. Money is wasted, time lost, and sales disappear into thin air.
Think I’m being overly dramatic? Let me share some real-world comments received within the last two days.
48 Hours of
301 redirects help protect your website during an upgrade, redesign, or move. While they are really easy to implement, many website owners and developers forget about them and in the process, this derails SEO efforts and can completely wipe away ranking in search.
I’ll be honest, I didn’t think much about 301 redirects until recently. Creating and managing 301 redirects have been a core part of our website design and development projects and we have to do items listed for these within each project plan.
But lately, I’ve been seeing more and more questions in social media, email inquiries, and my Clarity.fm calls where website owners and bloggers have had major issues because no one considered or created 301 redirects when websites and blogs were redesigned or updated.
Today I had a call with the lovely Ivy and this was once again a problem. The sad part is that Ivy is a blogger and she had both WordPress developers and SEO consultants helping her, yet neither had a great handle on 301 redirects. They also failed to educate her on the importance of them, which really makes me angry.
After my call with Ivy I decided a blog
Truemag is a premium WordPress theme by StrictThemes that looks great and packs a lot of functionality, including support for responsive Google AdSense and plenty ofplaces for monetization. If you want to build a site that sells, then Truemag is a worthy contender.
To Ad” or Not to “Ad?”
One of the key elements of a successful site is a monetization strategy. By default, everybody assumes that monetization equals ads. Nope. Mozilla’s website, for example, has no ads. They use the website to promote projects, which, in turn, brings in money from donations and partnerships.
On the other hand, if you visit a bank website, you’ll notice ads promoting products and services, because banks make money from financial transactions. Why save money for that new Camry when your bank lends the money you need for a small fee and an honest interest rate? You need that Camry now anyway! Get it?
Your favorite food blogger has an eye candy site, with a nice color scheme and a giant ad, promoting a book that will make you the greatest chef of all times. In addition, some small ads will point either to the all-new, Bluetooth-enabled
Many times, we’ve talked with important developers and web designers and they said us that it would be really interesting to have a showcase of handpicked web tools and services. But really handpicked, tested by guys with experience that know the issues and what is needed. This is that showcase and it contains 18 web tools and services that will help you.
Codester is a complete marketplace where you can buy and sell different web development products like all kind of themes (WordPres, HTML, Joomla,eCommerce etc), PHP scripts (there are 238 available, for sure you will find what you are looking for), plugins and even code snippets and much more. The team behind Codester targeted the first spot in this market and they are investing massive amounts of money for having the greatest marketplace. It is structured correctly, logically, so finding the best fit product for your projects will happen in less than 60 seconds.
With Codester you can also earn lots of money. There are 2 options for doing so. First, you can start your own store in a few steps and earn 70% commission via PayPal from your sales. Codester has some
We often speak about decluttering in the sense of physical stuff like closets or storage. But, we can also speak about decluttering designs too. Decluttering can help improve usability and the user experience on websites.
Here are four tips for decluttering you designs.
1. Shorten the Copy
Dating back to 1997, Nielsen Norman Group conducted a study to learn how users read on the web. I’m sure you know that they don’t read. Instead, most people scan the pages. Yet, there are plenty of websites filled with unnecessary words. Unfortunately, copy that is messy or indirect is common. You can clean up the content of a website by removing the amount of words on the screen.
Remove unnecessary words. Shorten run-on-sentences and remove redundant sentences, too. Always have one idea per paragraph. It’s a good form of writing and it’s better for those readers who scan. Finally, and this is true especially of long-form content, use the inverted pyramid structure. Start with the conclusion and add more detail as the content gets longer.
This is one of my favorite apps, Days. It’s an app for counting down days until an event. The app’s
When visitors land on a new website they usually have no idea where to begin. They usually just look around for nav links that might provide the info they’re looking for. But the newest trend of the “start here” page offers a much better experience.
Brand new users on your site should be inspired to keep browsing deeper into your posts. The best way to achieve this is with a single unified intro page featuring links, a small guide to the site, and even some background about yourself & the site’s history.
In this post I’ll look into the trend of start here pages to see what they offer and how you can take advantage of them in your own projects.
Introduce Your Website
The biggest reason to use a “start here” page is to introduce new visitors to your website. Since each site offers something different the “start here” pages will have a different goal based on content.
Your page should share vital information and aim to educate visitors about the site. But it should also drive visitors further into the site by sharing the best resources and links
You can be the most creative and productive designer in the world, but it doesn’t mean anything without paid work. Designers can rely on repeat clients but it’s important to keep meeting new potential clients and building future relationships.
In this post I’d like to share tips and strategies for getting your work out there into the eyes of clients and other designers. There is no one best method to use, and in fact you should employ multiple strategies to garner the largest reach possible.
But make a game plan and learn why self-promotion is so important. Through practice it’ll become a lot easier like second nature.
It All Starts With A Portfolio
This should be obvious but I’m surprised how many designers have a weak portfolio of work, or even worse nothing at all.
Everyone uses the Internet and there’s no reason to believe this is slowing down.
If you do any digital work then you should have an online portfolio. This includes all creative jobs whether you’re an icon designer, web designer, digital artist, motion graphics designer, or anything similar. And this doesn’t mean that you need
I won’t surprise if we tell you that European e-commerce market is hot and that a mobile-friendly website is a key to success in that field. Last year, approximately 296 million online shoppers spent over 455 billion euros. And 16.5% of that money was spent on small-screens.
You may think it’s just 16%, but the pace at which the share of mobile grows is quite shocking. Argos, the UK retail giant, reported that on the Black Friday morning, they received 700 000 visits per hour and just 20% of that were desktop visits.
This is a strong signal for all of us working in web design to revisit how we handle one of the biggest hurdles for mobile users – the forms. A recent study by UseItBetter, a company behind Form Analytics, can be of great help in that task. You can check out the full study here or continue reading what we found the most interesting.
Why are good, optimized registration forms so important?
In e-commerce, UX elements and micro interactions are not there just to create a beautiful experience for the user. How these elements and interactions function, andhow well they function,
Ready to refresh your website? The start of the year is a great time to take a hard look at your existing design – or even new projects – and think about how to incorporate some of the latest trends into the framework.
From functionality to color and typography, 2017 will be a year of new ideas and new visual concepts to explore. Some of those designs are already starting to pop up, providing you with just enough visual inspiration to get off to the right start in the new year. Let’s take a look.
- 2014 Web Design Trends
- 2015 Web Design Trends
- 2016 Web Design Trends
Web Design Trends 2017
Missing from the design landscape for a few years, gradients are making a major comeback. But the look of the color blurring technique has shifted.
In the last round of gradients, there were subtle variations throughout the design. Apple’s iOS icons were a prime example. Now, gradients are big, bold and use plenty of color.
The most popular usage is a two color gradient overlay on photos. (This technique can look absolutely amazing!) It’s a great option
As a business owner, have you ever been totally clueless as to why your website isn’t converting? Do you feel like you have everything in place, yet your audience isn’t following through on your call to actions buttons, and your bounce rate is sky high? There could be a few crucial web design features that are missing on your website, and adding and adjusting them might mean the difference between success and failure.
Use this article as a ‘checklist’ to see whether your web design is on par, and which features you can implement to boost conversions and encourage engagement.
At the end of the day your audience will be attracted to modern design, elements they sub-consciously accept as the norm, because they’ve had that user-experience on other websites. Think of modern design as a combination of art, design, and functionality. When these elements ‘work’ in harmony your page will be undeniable and ultimately guide the visitor to where you want them to be.
So, ‘What’s Missing’?
1. Web Design That’s not Unique to Your Industry & Brand
Your web design is the first impression a visitor will have about the business. This
Interfaces are all about communication and getting things done. A website’s UI is a means to an end, and the designer’s job is to create an interface that helps the user reach that end quickly.
Icons are perfect for interfaces because they convey meaning without words. Users can learn how an interface works just by studying the visuals and interacting with the elements.
In this post I’ll cover a few different ways to use icons to improve the quality of UX on a website. There are no perfect uses but there are commonalities between great icons and an improved user experience.
Icons naturally help users navigate through a website based on visuals alone. The best icons are the ones that most people recognize so you always want to stick with these first.
But you can design icons for links with label text for clearer usability.
Take a look at the portfolio site of Tim Roussilhe using a vertical navigation menu.
Tim includes icons above each link label to distinguish between purpose and behavior. It’s one of the clearest methods for icon use because it’s easy to
Modal windows are those popup windows that appear over the screen rather than opening a new tab/window. They usually darken the background to bring attention to the popup.
Everything in the window takes precedence over the page so these modals are meant to draw attention. They can be annoying and outright infuriating but numbers don’t lie:they work.
Let’s delve a bit into current trends of modal windows to see how they work and why you’d use them.
Dark Backgrounds & Clickable Areas
Modal windows follow a similar design strategy and they’re not very complicated.
They mostly all use a darkened background on the page to bring attention to the modal content. This shouldn’t be a pitch black background because that can feel intimidating.
Instead the user should see a touch of the page behind the background, but it should have a reduced opacity. This could be 90% or 50% depending on how
All major trade & specialty magazines have built a web presence online. Many still release print editions but the Internet is a much cheaper medium to publish content.
The future of online blogging seems to be moving towards a magazine trend. But what does this mean? How do you differentiate between a blog and an online magazine?
In this post I’ll cover some basic design trends that have seeped into the blogging world and radically changed how we view online publications.
Ironically there aren’t many differences between a blog and an online magazine. The biggest factors are public opinion and the website’s overall design.
Featured Stories Widgets
Every magazine homepage should have some type of featured posts widget. This is the best way to set your blog apart from the rest and give it a professional look.
Each featured widget should include thumbnail images for the posts organized in a grid or carousel. This could be a large rotating carousel or a fixed grid with varying thumbnail sizes.
There are no wrong answers and the more creative you get the more unique your design will look.
Take for example The
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.
While popular media outlets like Mashable.com report that artificial intelligence and low cost WordPress templates are killing the occupation of professional website design, these are headlines geared towards driving traffic and discussion. The claims are based on promotion and not on actual facts.
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.
Have you ever issued a website RFP and received limited responses? Did you wonder what went wrong and why design agencies failed to reply with earnest?
You’re not alone.
The breakdown in the RFP process can be attributed to both the RFP issuer and the RFP responders. And it is an issue that has been growing for years.
On the client side, a lot of companies fail to publish a solid RFP, which makes it difficult for agencies to respond or even take them serious. On the agency side, design firms have grown so jaded about poorly written RFP documents that many won’t even reply. This breakdown in the RFP process flow can be corrected.
A well-written, properly executed RFP can have a positive impact on the website design process. It can help articulate the project requirements and objectives, while also providing a method for obtaining an apples to apples comparison of website developers.
So now that we’ve moved past the validity of website RFPs, let’s move on to crafting one that works for both the client and the design agency.
Top Reasons Why Design Agencies Ignore Website RFP Documents
Each and every day we take journeys. We embark on customer journeys in both the physical and digital worlds.
Years ago our journeys were limited to store fronts and physical goods. Today we live in a multimedia world of websites, social media, chat sessions, newsletters, email, and call centers. These digital journeys have changed the way we interact with companies and products.
Last week I decided I was going to try shopping at a new grocery store. I was on my way home from the ortho with my son and I was passing by a Kroger that was recently given a facelift. I thought I would try it out and forgo the extra few miles I’d need to drive to get to my regular store.
Guess what happened? I was a big fat ball of stress the entire time I was in the store. I could not find everything on my list, regardless of all the signs throughout the store.
So what went wrong with my journey? Here are a few mental notes I made as I silently vented in frustration:
- There was bread here, there, and then there was bread way over there.
- The dairy section
If I said it has been a busy couple of months inside of Web Savvy Marketing, it would be an understatement at best. While summer is traditionally our slow period, we started a website redesign and it has been a major undertaking for me and my team.
I never do anything half way and this website redesign is a perfect example of my inability to go “minor” in anything I do. Add in the fact that there are client websites builds to manage and it’s summer in Michigan and well, I feel like I’ve been pulled in a billion directions for three straight months.
In May of this year I kicked off graphic design and provided art direction on different website elements I’d like to have designed and/or coded. Design wrapped up in the end of July we began coding immediately. This coding took about a full month because – again – I just can’t do anything that could be considered normal. This applies to both my business and personal life. I tend to follow the go big or go home philosophy for life in general.
Our Graphic designer, Carla, has an amazing ability to
Hiring a web design can be an exciting process. When I talk about hiring a web design in this post, the advice can be applied in a variety of ways. First, it could mean hiring a single, usually freelance, designer for a job you need to be done. It could also refer to a web design agency.
Additionally, it could be advice for hiring a web designer for your own team. The advice is valuable for web designers who are looking to improve their portfolio. Now, let’s discuss five different but important things when trying to hire a web designer.
The work shows off responsive design
It’s still surprising how many times responsive designs don’t make it into a web designer portfolio. It’s hard to say if a designer is capable of delivering responsive design if it’s not there. It could be omitted by mistake or because they have never done it. You can’t tell if it’s not there. Now, this guide refers to a web designer.
The web is a flexible medium that works on the tiniest devices and their tiny screens to larger devices and their larger screens. It’s important for any