6 Ways Illustration Improves UX

The old saying “a picture is worth a thousand words” is still relevant to today’s experiences. People are attracted to visuals faster than text, and this natural property of photos and illustrations make them very useful for visual design.

In modern user interfaces, both photos and illustrations became functional elements along with text and interactive elements. Illustrations are a versatile way to create a unique design. From hand drawn hero-style illustrations, to small icons, everything about a sketched image feels like art. In this article, I would like to review some of the functions of illustration from the perspective of modern UI design.

How Illustrations Help Improve User Experience

Similar to other visual elements, illustration can be a powerful communication tool. Well-crafted illustrations have following benefits:

  • Can attract user’s attention and deliver the most critical information in easy-to-understand visual format.
  • Can add clarity to a complex idea. There is no need to use any words if you can provide this information using visuals.
  • Can engage users. Beautiful illustration not only attracts user attention, but it also makes users interested in a product itself.
  • Can play with users’ imagination. It’s possible to merge reality and imagination by using illustration.

6 Ways Illustration Improves UX

There are a lot of cases where illustrations can improve user experience of a product. Here are 6 of them:

1. Deliver The Main Point Faster

As said before, illustrations have an excellent potential for explanation and clarification. In the context of websites and mobile apps, there are a dozen ways of using illustrations improve UX right from the first screens. For example, it’s possible to make the onboarding process more engaging by using illustrations on tutorial screens. This approach has the additional benefit for mobile apps of helping to avoid too much text on screen.

Image credits: Divan Raj

Using illustrations, it’s possible to show the difference between product plans.

Illustrations demonstrate the difference between service plans. Image credits: Dribbble

Last but not least, when user encounter a problem, illustrations can be used to add a little sense of humor to humanize the problem.

Error page in Flights by Google. Image credits: Dribbble

2. Create a More Memorable Experience

As users, we use a lot of products on a regular basis, but only a few of them create a truly memorable experience.

As designers, if we want to create a memorable experience, we need to learn how human brains work. Barbara Fredrickson and Daniel Kahneman proposed a psychological heuristic called peak-end rule which dictates the way our brain works with information. The peak-end rule states that people judge an experience largely based on how they felt at its peak (i.e., its most intense point) and at its end, rather than based on the total sum or average of every moment of the experience. The effect occurs regardless of whether the experience is pleasant or unpleasant.

In other words, when we remember experiences, we tend to recall not entire experience but only key events that happened. A pleasant illustration is an opportunity to become such key event and increase brand awareness.  

Using mascots in a user interface is a popular way to apply illustration techniques in design to create a more memorable experience. Branding elements such as mascots become the elements of identity and inter-connector between the user and the product.

Silverback, an app for Mac that makes Guerrilla usability testing easy, uses an illustrated gorilla as a mascot.

3. Create an Illusion of Direct Communication With User

Each user interaction with a product is a journey. Behind each journey is a goal the user wants to accomplish by using the product. For some experiences, it’s possible to convert a journey into a story in which the user will be a character, and the goal will be a final destination. Illustrations can act as a proxy between user and app by engaging users in the experience.

One good example is Omono. The app uses an owl to guide users through the interface and reinforce the user-friendly nature of the application.

Illustrations can make the user feel confident in their tasks and inspired to continue the journey.

4. Reinforce Existing Stylistic Concept

Illustrations can be applied in a user interface to provide visual support of the general stylistic concept of the app or website. Along with other branding elements, such as logos, fonts, color schemes, illustrations have a significant impact on product’s style. When illustration is created according to the style, it provides more natural and harmonic feeling of the product (and brand in general). But for that to happen illustrations should feel consistent, like they came from the same source even if they were created by different people.  

Image credits: Zurb Foundation

5. Live up the process of interaction

When we think about our apps and websites, we rarely think of them as static pages linked together. The concept of interactions requires us to add animated effects and transitions to make the experience look and feel more natural. Same as any other parts of a design, illustration can be enriched with animation.  Illustrations combined with animation can deliver not only a truly memorable experience, but they can also make the experience more dynamic.  

For example, Readme.io, a service that provides beautiful documentation to the world, makes users smile each time they enter the password. People love such little touches because they make the experience more human.

6. Add Elements of Gamification into UX

Gamification is a popular technique used by product designers to increase user engagement. A designer can consider using illustration in the interface when the user should be rewarded for some achievement.

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10 Ways To Learn PPC Like a Pro

Businesses looking for online marketing and web services are rarely looking for one provision. Typically, they are looking for an agency that can act as a one-stop-shop for all their internet-based projects.

Pay-per-click advertising is one such service that businesses are interested in. The ability to promote their company on search engines like Google and Bing is integral to earning revenue online. But if you’ve never delved into the world of PPC, how do you bring this service into your wheelhouse?

In this article, we will cover ten cost-effective and actionable ways you can learn to set up, manage and optimize Pay-Per-Click campaigns for your clients. When used, these resources will make it easy for you to confidently offer PPC to your customers.

1. Lynda.com

This online learning platform is owned by LinkedIn and specializes in expert led training. They offer a range of PCC courses, from beginner level to advanced techniques. For a fee of $19.99 per month, you can have access to over 6,000 courses. The PPC focused courses cover everything from sophisticated targeting methods to account structuring and auditing. A great resource for employees looking to take on PPC responsibilities or business owners who want to have a firm understanding of the services they offer.

2. Google Adwords

When it comes to PPC advertisements, there is no disputing that Google is the giant. Website hosting company godaddy spends over $5 million per year on Google Adwords alone. If you want to be a successful PPC service provider, you have to know the Google Adwords platform inside out. Thankfully, Google offers several courses and official documents that can be accessed for free. Even better is that the courses are self-paced, so you can learn on your own schedule and have peace of mind knowing you are getting the information straight from the horse’s mouth.

3. Udemy

Udemy is another online learning site that offers affordable classes on a variety of topics. They update their courses each year, so you can be confident you are learning all the latest tips and tricks. Over 11,000 people have already taken their 2017 PPC course, and it has a rating of 4.8 out of 5. If you want to learn how to use PPC to boost traffic to websites or remarket to your previous website visitors, this is the perfect place to start.

4. Unbounce

Unbounce is landing page creation software. If you plan on managing PPC campaigns, chances are you will have to learn how to create landing pages. What is a landing page? It’s any web page that is created specifically with conversion focus in mind. Usually, PPC ads will include the link to a landing page rather than a website homepage to reduce the likelihood that visitors will be distracted on the website or click exit before completing the conversion step. Unbounce has a PPC blog that is full of insider tips, recent updates, and valuable tidbits of information.

5. Wordstream

When notable brands like The New York Times, Entrepreneur Magazine, and The Huffington Post trust an online learning site, you know it is worth considering. Such is the case with Wordstream, a marketing software and PPC management solutions site. Wordstream offers proprietary programs like their Adwords Performance Grader, which analyzes your current campaigns and lets you know where there is room for improvements. But what really helps them stand out is their absolute mountain of PPC learning material. Better yet, you don’t need to be a Wordstream customer to access most of their content

6. Bing Ads

Bing is owned by Microsoft, and the multinational technology company offers its own courses on learning its platform. The Bing Ads Training Courses take you through every step of creating, managing, and optimizing a Bing advertising campaign. And while Bing is commonly viewed as a secondary search engine in comparison to Google, it is still a lucrative path to take for businesses looking to gain traction online. Did you know that the Bing Network Audience spend 34 per cent more online than average internet searchers? Potential customers on this platform are likely to buy and invest in brands they see as trustworthy. A great place to make your company known!

7. The Ultimate Guide to PPC Advertising

This book by Richard Stokes is available on Amazon for approximately $20.00. Richard is the founder of the digital intelligence firm AdGooRoo, and has unique insight into the world of online paid advertising. In this book, he shares his personal strategies to increase click-through rates, steal impressions from competitors, and much more. Well worth the read!

8. PPC Hero

PPC Hero is the perfect go-to website for all things PPC. From interesting and educational blog posts to webinars and toolkits, there is something for every learner. Learn everything from Adwords Smart Display to how to utilize Excel to capture your PPC data. Be prepared to dedicate a fair amount of time to this website, however. The sheer amount of valuable info is astonishing!

9. Klientboost

Klientboost is a well-recognized resource in the online marketing industry. They are known for helping clients build landing pages that convert and PPC campaigns that drive traffic and revenue. They offer several courses, some more complex than others. Their 7-Day Adwords Toolbelt course is packed with useful tips. You can also check out their guides, webinars and blogs. Each has a plethora of practical, game-changing material to learn from!

10. CXL Institute

If you are already able to create a PPC framework and complete the basics, but you want to optimize the work you have done to increase conversions, this is the site for you. You won’t find run-of-the-mill updates and tutorials here. The CXL Institute prides itself on offering detailed, comprehensive articles, courses, workshops and conferences. Topics often covered include A/B split testing, Google Tag Manager, email marketing, and more. Google itself trains some of their employees by sending them to the CXL Institute courses, so you can be certain that you are learning from the very best.

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Framer Launches Fresh New Design Tool

Framer is known as a prototyping app, but in an unexpected move they have just announced the launch of a fully integrated, browser-based, visual design tool.

Aimed at creative professionals, the new Framer is designed to rival established options including Creative Cloud and Sketch, new kids on the block Affinity and Figma, and is timed to steal the thunder of InVision, whose own much heralded design app is expected next month.

We’re betting on something that our competitors aren’t — that designers will want a tool which does both high-fidelity design and prototyping.

—Koen Bok, co-founder, Framer

Framer claims that this latest release makes it the first prototyping app to fully consolidate the entire designer toolkit—at least for screen based design.

The new app allows you to design everything from icons, through to hi-fidelity interactive mockups. Unlike some competitors, who are promising the moon in 2018, you can use Framer’s design tool now. The not unfamiliar interface is simple to use, and initial reactions have been broadly positive.

Framer’s approach has been a little…interesting, to put it succinctly. They have integrated AI [facepalm] so that you design something once, and Framer ‘intelligently’ reshapes and resizes the design across any device. I’m not saying this is a dubious approach, I’m not saying that responsive design is about more than making shapes fit a viewport, I’m not saying that this goes against a mobile-first methodology; I’m not saying any of that because we should be positive about any new tool that people have worked hard on.

Perhaps the best news for designers is that the tool is being released at all. We all saw the stagnation in design apps—and the corresponding impact that had design work—when Adobe was the only player in town. The more companies are forced to compete to win your custom, the better the tools on offer. It seems that 2018 could feature a design tools ‘space race’, with a dozen or more developers vying for an established slot in designers’ workflows.

Framer’s evolution into a full design tool, is on the one hand ambitious, and on the other inevitable. Framer won’t be talked about as an Adobe killer, it’s a different beast altogether; it may be that designers anticipating InVision’s new tool are tempted away. A creative process is a very personal thing, some designers will love Framer, others will not; it’s always nice to have a choice.

Framer is available now as a 14 day free trial, plans start from $12 per month.

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Download 140 Free Images From Storyblocks

‘Tis the season of peace and goodwill to all people, and to celebrate we’ve got an early Christmas gift for you: Storyblocks is giving everyone in the WebdesignerDepot community 140 downloads, absolutely free!

The Storyblocks library has over 400,000 stock photos, vectors, icons, backgrounds, and more for you to choose from. Whether you fancy a shiny new icon set for the New Year, or perhaps you’re putting the finishing touches on your latest blog post ahead of January, or even if you just want to save a few bucks on stock images so you can splash out on mulled wine and candy; everyone will find something great to download.

Storyblocks is one of the best providers of stock images, here are just some of the reasons why:

Professional Quality Images at Wallet Friendly Prices

Storyblocks provides premium grade stock images to professionals worldwide. But don’t just take our word for it, try it yourself by grabbing 140 free images to use in your design work.

Most stock photo services only offer the option to download a few carefully selected sample images as a trial, but Storyblocks is different. Because they want you to really experience their service fully, when you sign up to a 7-day free trial you’ll be able to download 20 images per day throughout the trial period; that’s 140, professional quality images, to download and use in personal or commercial projects.

Unlimited Downloads for Annual Members

If you enjoy your trial—and with this many free images to download and use, why wouldn’t you—you might like to think about signing up for an account.

Annual members get unlimited downloads. That’s right, you can download 400,000 images if you want to—although the library is still growing and will probably be a lot bigger by the time you get through them all.

With your annual membership the downloads are royalty-free and come with zero additional licensing fees. Storyblocks is committed to giving their members the best service available, so if you choose an annual membership, you can download as much as you like, and forget all about tricky licensing options.

What’s more, if for any reason you decide to cancel your membership, you can keep the images you download and continue to use them, as often as you like.

No-Strings-Attached Royalty-Free Licensing

Unlike some stock providers, Storyblocks doesn’t apply complex, restrictive, or disruptive conditions to your account.

Storyblock’s royalty-free license allows for both personal and commercial use—you’ll never have to log back into your account to check if you need to pay additional fees, because there aren’t any.

Everyone from full annual members, to free trial members are free to design personal and commercial projects using Storyblocks’ content. And if you’re still unsure, simply give the in-house customer service team a call and talk to a real person.

Get Your 140 Free Images from Storyblocks

To get your 140 royalty-free images from Storyblocks, all you need to do is head over to the Storyblock’s site, and sign-up for a free trial. Every day for the following seven days you can download 20 images—140 in total.

At the end of the trial, you’re free to keep all of the images you download, whether or not you choose to upgrade to a full membership plan. Head over to Storyblocks to start downloading now.

 

[– This is a sponsored post on behalf of Storyblocks –]

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To Hell With Subtle Design

Don’t try to be so damn subtle in web design.

Okay, let me explain that…

About a year or so ago, I made a terrible mistake: I tried to be funny; More specifically, I tried my hand at stand-up comedy. I sat down, wrote out a bunch of jokes that I found amusing; and collected some online acquaintances in video chat to try them out. I did it this way because I live in Mexico, but my first language is English.

And here’s what I found out: Unless people already know you, they may not immediately understand you when you’re trying to be clever. They tend to take what you say rather literally. Also, they will only trust you with a joke that has a long set-up if they already think you’re funny. Also, Mexicans can have a really dark and subtle sense of humor that doesn’t translate to everyone else and it has rubbed off on me. The only Mexican in the virtual room was my biggest fan.

Cleverness is overrated; Subtlety is useless

In web design, those first two points are the ones that truly apply: Cleverness is overrated; Subtlety is useless.

Just give them what they want without making them jump through mental hoops. As a comedian, I failed my “audience” by presenting them with small puzzles. I mean, I thought they were just clever references with obvious punchlines. I figured if they just thought about it for a split second, they’d laugh like I did. That was silly of me.

When people go to a comedian, they don’t want puzzles. They want laughs. That’s why some of the most obvious jokes can carry entire careers. It’s why comedians usually start a set with quick, almost-guaranteed jokes. Once they have captured the attention of the audience—once the audience trusts them to deliver the laughs—they can go into subtler material, and longer jokes.

When people browse the Internet looking for information, they don’t want websites to be puzzles. They don’t want references or clever gimmicks. Those things can be a nice bonus (or Easter egg) but users shouldn’t have to get through them to get to the information or product they want.

So What Exactly Do You Want Us To Stop Doing?

I’m so glad you asked! Let’s tackle subtlety and overwrought cleverness in UX Design: Every time someone comes up with a newfangled form of navigation, an overly-artistic layout, or hides content behind unnecessary clicks, Sir Tim Berners-Lee cries. Stop making Sir Tim cry.

Every time someone…hides content behind unnecessary clicks, Sir Tim Berners-Lee cries

I’m not saying to never do anything new or interesting with your layout. I’m saying that you need to be more careful about it. Every time you consider a brand new approach in web design, ask yourself if it’s going to make things easier or harder for users to find. Then go ask some users. Any users. For the love of all that is holy, stop hiding information and UI elements that people need.

Now, on mobile devices, it might make some sense to hide your navigation behind an extra tap, but that’s really the limit. On tablets and desktop computers, primary navigation just shouldn’t be hidden. It just shouldn’t. There is no good reason. Aesthetics is not a good reason.

Let’s take another example: forms. There is no reason they should not look like forms. No matter how clever it might seem to make text inputs look like something else, it’s really not a big help. Not unless you put up a sign that says, “Click here, and here, and here…”, and then you’re just making more work for yourself.

Yes, forms are sometimes ugly, boring, and frustrating—just like in the offline world. Can they be better? Yes, but only as long as they are still recognizable as forms. The moment they look like anything else, users have to spend extra time figuring them out. Congratulations! You made forms more irritating.

The bits of your website that users actually interact with don’t have to be clever, innovative, or subtle. They just need to work.

On Subtle UI Flourishes

Let’s address UI design next: drop shadows, gradients, and contrast. Specifically, let’s talk about the near-complete absence of contrast on some sites. I’ll admit, this is a trap I’ve fallen into many times, myself: Please don’t look at my current writing portfolio, I’m just about to redesign it yet again.

When you make a gradient, or a drop shadow, it can be tempting to make it as subtle as possible. Light grey stuff on white backgrounds looks elegant. Or at least that’s something we tell ourselves. The truth is, if your user is looking at your site on a screen where that’s not quite calibrated right, a lot of those details can disappear entirely.

If you’re depending on something like a drop shadow or gradient to create affordances (or clues as to how the interface works), having those details disappear can seriously affect usability. It’s a different kind of subtlety, yes, but it needs to be addressed.

Conclusion

Don’t hold back. Be bold with your colors, your contrast, and your user experience design. Go wild! The only real constraints should be usability, and efficiency. And by that I mean don’t hide the content or features that your users are looking for.

Metaphorically hit them in the face with what they want. It’s what they want.

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What’s New for Designers, December 2017

The holiday season is upon us, and that’s the perfect time to give yourself a few design goodies. While the season for new releases has slowed some, there are still plenty of news design tools and beta releases to test out. Take the opportunity to play with some of these great new elements for designers.

If we’ve missed something that you think should have been on the list, let us know in the comments. And if you know of a new app or resource that should be featured next month, tweet it to @carriecousins to be considered!

DesignEvo

Want to create a logo on your own in just a few minutes? DesignEvo is a free online logo maker that has more than 3,000 templates to help you create a simple logo in a hurry. Search by template type (or brand category) to start working on a custom logo right away. Everything you need, including icons, color swatches and fonts, are included in your logo design.

Oiga

Project management tools are a must have part of the creative workflow. Every project comes with assets, colors, fonts, files and schedules that team members have to be aware of. Oiga, which is currently in beta, is a modern project management tool that helps you keep track of everything in one place. It’s designed for remote work and unlike many other project management tools, it also includes an asset manager so that everything is in one place.

Google Poly

Google is developing a great repository of three-dimensional assets for AR and VR apps. What’s even better is that all of these assets are open source and come with creative commons licenses so that you can use them. The database is growing quickly and is a great resource for getting started with these cutting-edge apps.

Flawless

Flawless is an app that uses real-time comparisons of expected and implemented designs to help you ensure the quality of mobile apps.

SessionStack

Ever wonder what your app looks like to users? SessionStack helps you see web app problems in the same way users do. This tool can help you pinpoint and correct small issues before they become major problems. The biggest feature of this tool is the record and playback tool.

Direction Reveal

Direction Reveal is a plugin that detects which direction a user enters and exits a block so that content and hover actions follow the same user action. Hidden content animates from the direction the user enters or can animate based on the direction a user leaves. This makes for pretty interesting animated effects. Animations can swing, slide or rotate.

Color Scheme Generator

Generate a color palette from a base color. See different optimum color combinations rooted in color theory. This is a great tool for designers that struggle with picking colors.

Superstruct

Superstruct makes it easy to define interfaces and then validate JavaScript data against them. It is designed for validating data at runtime, so it throws (or returns) detailed runtime errors. This can be useful for accepting arbitrary input in a REST or GraphQL API. But it can also be used to validate internal data structures at runtime.

World City Icons

The world cities icon pack includes graphic representations of popular cities from around the globe. Each icon is drawn in a vector format and collections include Asia and Oceania, Middle East and Africa, Europe, North and Central America and South America. Each icon comes in line style, but can be filled.

Threed

Threed helps you generate three-dimensional mockups in-browser. Just upload a design, adjust a few settings and download the mockup. The tool, which is still in beta, is free to use.

Scri.ch

Draw something on the screen and save the unique link to share. It’s like the grown up (digital) version of an Etch-a-Sketch.

Akaunting

With so many creative professionals working in the gig economy, it’s important to have plenty of effective and low-cost tools to help with business tasks. Akaunting is free accounting software for small businesses and freelancers. It is an open source tool that provides invoicing, expense tracking and basic accounting so you can keep up with finances easily.

Orion

This tool bills itself as the best icon tool with a large database of elements to search, download and customize. The search features are robust when it comes to finding just what you envision (and don’t want to draw yourself).

Electron Toolkit

Electron Toolkit is a lightweight open source application to launch Electron apps. It bundles a suite of tools to generate assets and artifacts such as installers, binaries, icons, screenshots, and product videos. You can even generate full landing pages.

Instabug Integrations Tool

The Instabug Integration Tool help you receive detailed bug reports and in-app messages directly from whatever tools you use. Whether it’s Jira, GitHub, Slack and more, there are dozens of integrations to help your team focus on what matters without disrupting workflow.

Creative Equals

There’s a lot of talk about making sure the creative space is welcome, diverse and inclusive. Creative Equals includes resources and information to help you or your business, and the industry as a whole, drive change and provide a more equal playing field for all creatives. It’s packed with training resources, campaigns and even a talent recruiting tool.

Lona Studio

Airbnb has a new tool for defining and using design systems and it is making the experiment public. “What if we had a single design system specification that encodes all of the detail needed to accurately translate from design to code? This spec would act as the source of truth. An engineer could then write code which captures the design with 100% accuracy. If the design file is missing a key piece of information, the designer and engineer could work together to add it to the source of truth.” That’s the concept of Lona, which operates on component files and is supposed to work with your current design tools.

Ballada

Ballada is a brush-style typeface with a slanted stance and plenty of loops and curves. It has a somewhat feminine feel and is designed for display use. It is free for personal and commercial projects.

Brewmaster Gothic

Brewmaster Gothic is a block-style sans serif for display type. The typeface is powerful and bold and includes a full set of uppercase letters.

Onomber

Onomber is an interesting geometric style typeface with mixed cap heights for extra visual interest. It has open letterforms that can work well in display uses.

Spirited

Spirited is a set of hand-drawn letters that create a modern script with a retro feel. This typeface could work for logos, display type or other special projects that require a font with a special touch.

Studio Gothic

Studio Gothic is a simple sans serif with uniform stroke widths with thick and thin options. The versatile typeface can work for display or larger text blocks and has a modern feel.

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Popular Design News of the Week: December 11, 2017 – December 17, 2017

Every week users submit a lot of interesting stuff on our sister site Webdesigner News, highlighting great content from around the web that can be of interest to web designers. 

The best way to keep track of all the great stories and news being posted is simply to check out the Webdesigner News site, however, in case you missed some here’s a quick and useful compilation of the most popular designer news that we curated from the past week.

Note that this is only a very small selection of the links that were posted, so don’t miss out and subscribe to our newsletter and follow the site daily for all the news.

Reviewing the Most Popular UI Design Tools in 2017

 

Top 5 UI Trends for 2018

 

The Grumpy Designer: These are a Few of my Least Favorite Things

 

The Future of Web Typography: CSS Fonts Level 4

 

A Showcase of the Best Designs 2017 ✨

 

Epic Guides for Bootstrappers – 2017

 

UI/UX Case Study : Designing a Better Cinema Experience

 

Pinterest Sees the Future

 

What UX Designers Can Learn from Disney

 

How to Design for iPhone X (without an iPhone X)

 

Sneak Peek: A New InVision

 

Graphic Designers: Here’s How to Make a Difference Right Now

 

Quiz: Logo Integrity

 

Site Design: Huge

 

Tracy – From Paper to Vector

 

Why Design Systems Fail

 

The Rise of Conversational Website

 

Xmas Card AR – Simply Add your Picture and Message to Send a Card with AR

 

How We Design Enterprise Software

 

The Importance of Side Projects to Designers

 

The Vicious Circle of Mediocre Work

 

Estonia, the Digital Republic

 

Google’s Spectral Typeface

 

Gif Without the GIF

 

Google Storyboard Turns your Videos into Comic Strips

 

Want more? No problem! Keep track of top design news from around the web with Webdesigner News.

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Comics of the Week #419

Every week we feature a set of comics created exclusively for WDD.

The content revolves around web design, blogging and funny situations that we encounter in our daily lives as designers.

These great cartoons are created by Jerry King, an award-winning cartoonist who’s one of the most published, prolific and versatile cartoonists in the world today.

So for a few moments, take a break from your daily routine, have a laugh and enjoy these funny cartoons.

Feel free to leave your comments and suggestions below as well as any related stories of your own…

Outsourcing Santa

 

Generous hacker

 

New Year’s Resolution

Can you relate to these situations? Please share your funny stories and comments below…

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The Simple Way to Turn Your WordPress Website Into a Mobile App

Even if your WordPress website is mobile-first and responsive, you could still be missing out on a huge chunk of traffic by not offering your visitors a mobile app, and the smooth user experience that comes with it. The only problem is that it’s incredibly difficult (and expensive) to build a native mobile app from scratch.

Thankfully, there are a number of high-end plugin solutions that can help you turn your existing WordPress website into a fully functional mobile app at a fraction of the cost.

In this post, we’ll run the rule over some of the best plugins to help you turn your WordPress website into a mobile app. But before we begin, let’s quickly take a look at how you can determine whether you need a mobile app for your site and whether or not your site is mobile app ready.

Does Your WordPress Website Need a Mobile App?

The customizable and refined user experience that apps offer has greatly influenced the recent upsurge in mobile traffic. And while having a responsive website that’s optimized for all kinds of devices is enough for some, others may be better off with a mobile app.

That said, not every business needs a mobile app; especially if interacting with it won’t improve your customers’ experience with your brand. However, if your online business will benefit from allowing your visitors to access it offline or store data locally then you might consider developing a native mobile app.

Those of you who are running businesses where it makes sense to have a mobile app need to first make sure your site is mobile app ready before you scramble to find a way to build one. This means that, at the very least, your WordPress website should be mobile-friendly and responsive to help you understand which bits of functionality you’ll need to translate to your app, and which to leave out. In addition to this, it’s also a good idea to take a step back and study your site’s analytics—mainly the metrics that offer insight into your audience’s behavior and the devices they use to access your site.

Once you’ve ticked all these boxes off your list and are ready to jump on the mobile app bandwagon, you’ll presumably want a low-cost solution to help you get there.

4 Plugins to Turn Your WordPress Website Into a Mobile App

If you’ve been thinking of turning your site into an app for some time now then you probably already know how much it costs to have one built from scratch. And, of course, there’s always the lurking fear that your app won’t take off.

The good news is that there are a number of WordPress plugins out there that allow you to dip your toe in the mobile app waters without breaking the bank. In this section, we’ll take a look at four of the best plugins to help you turn your WordPress website into a mobile app and highlight their standout features.

MobiLoud

MobiLoud is a mobile app service that takes your WordPress website and turns it into a native mobile app without requiring you to do anything. As of this writing, the service offers two different solutions to their customers: MobiLoud News and MobiLoud Canvas.

MobiLoud News is designed specifically for blogs and news websites whereas MobiLoud Canvas lets you turn all kinds of websites (community, e-commerce, directory, conference, event, and more) into native mobile apps for both the Android and iOS platforms.

The key benefit you get with MobiLoud is that you can instantly publish your app to your own Google Play or AppStore account and even charge for downloads if you’d like.

Key Features:

  • Build a native Android and iOS app.
  • Compatible with BuddyPress and WooCommerce.
  • Allows you to enable rich push notifications and leverage mobile advertising.

Price: Starting at $69 per month

AppPresser

AppPresser is a hybrid mobile app solution that allows users to build Android and iOS apps from their WordPress websites. Unlike MobiLoud, AppPresser is built on top of WordPress and Phonegap (an open-source framework) which means that it creates an additional layer.

If you’re a developer then you’ll feel right at home with the extensive customization options that go into creating a mobile app from scratch with AppPresser. However, if you’re not particularly technically inclined, you may have difficulty getting started.

With AppPresser, you can create an app from just about any WordPress website such as school apps, event and conference apps, WooCommerce apps, and BuddyPress apps.

Key Features:

  • Powerful visual app builder with side/tab menus.
  • Comes with custom extensions for WordPress that allow users to enable camera, geolocation, Facebook login, etc.
  • Makes it easy for users to setup push notifications.

Price: Starting at $19 per month

Web2App

Web2App is a premium WordPress plugin that allows you to turn your mobile-responsive website into a full, native application. It comes with a wide-range of features that you can use to improve your app’s user experience including push notifications, analytics, splash screen, and pull-to-refresh.

The standout feature on offer with Web2App is that you can turn your WordPress website into a functional app in four simple steps—without having to code a single line. In addition to this, its built-in tabs and drawer feature lets you add as many pages as you’d like and customize them with color and display options, loading bar styles, and tabs.

Web2App is compatible with Admob allowing you to monetize your app from the get-go. In addition to this, you also get access to its rich documentation and series of video tutorials from the user panel to help you get started.

Key Features:

  • Comes with push notifications and pull-to-refresh functionality.
  • Tons of customization options and editable templates.
  • Allows you to display a splash screen and rate my app dialog boxes.

Price: $19

Wapppress

Wapppress is a premium lightweight plugin that is designed to help you turn your WordPress website into a simple yet functional mobile app. Compared to the other solutions in this roundup; Wapppress doesn’t pack an extensive list of features. That said, it does offer support for e-commerce sites and allows users to enable push notifications and auto updating.

The Wapppress plugin works by taking your site and converting it into a simple, classic mobile app layout. While it may not be the best choice for online store owners, it offers enough functionality for content-based sites like news sites and blogs to get started in the mobile app space.

Key Features:

  • Simple, three-step app creation process.
  • Allows you to enable push notifications and auto updating.
  • Makes it easy for users to add custom functionality and third-party scripts.

Price: $19

Conclusion

There are a number of ways your business could benefit from having a mobile app. However, the heavy cost and time concerns linked with native mobile app development have made it difficult for small business owners to explore this ever-growing digital channel.

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p class=”p2″>We looked at some plugin solutions that are designed to help you turn your existing WordPress website into a mobile app and, hopefully, you’re in a good position now to take things further yourself.

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10 Game-Changing SEO Tips For Ecommerce in 2018

Traffic is among the deciding factors which determine the ultimate success of an e-commerce website. As it brings potential customers to the businesses, it also helps maintain a robust rank among competitors in Google SERPs.

Visibility is the key factor that ensures a website remains displayed on SERPs and keeps attracting users towards its products and services. By upholding SERP rankings, an e-commerce website can generate profitable returns and bring the business to an exposure point where it can progress and grow into a reliable selling machine.

But how does a business achieve this milestone and which factors stimulate this process? The answer is SEO.

SEO (Search Engine Optimization) improves website visibility, engagement, retention, and rankings for enhancing search engine results and attracting relevant users towards products and services.

In this article, we will reveal the 10 game-changing practices that dominate SEO. By strategically applying these techniques, your website can gain the edge it needs to stay ahead of the competitive curve and return a healthy revenue.

1. Generate Original Content

Among the primary factors that help search engines’ algorithms grade websites is original content. Since e-commerce websites feature products and services which are also marketed by competitors, they often find themselves publishing generic content.

Rather than displaying stock descriptions and tags for products and services, generate original content which can be detected and graded positively by search engines. Write content which is helpful and distinguishes products and services from the customer’s perspective.

The same rules apply when using predefined templates and databases, which can lead to lower SERP ratings since the content is detected on competitor websites. Modify the content so it is unique, with keywords related to the topic.

2. Optimize Meta Descriptions

While meta descriptions are not the deciding factor for search engine rankings, they can be optimized efficiently to increase the Click Through Rate (CTR), subsequently growing traffic. Here are a few ways meta descriptions can be optimized for maximum effect:

• Self-Explanatory: Meta descriptions help users decide whether a website will provide the items they are searching for, and therefore should be written from a user’s point of view to boost CTR.

• Concise: Use short and meaningful descriptions to leverage the average user’s reading preference. Limit the description under the benchmark 156-character limit to bolster maximum engagement.

• Convincing in Nature: Meta descriptions should prompt an action from the customer through Call to Actions (CTR) and should persuade them towards purchasing products and services offered by your store, such as “Delivery Free for Orders over $80” or “Get Offer Now”.

3. Enable Product Reviews

One of the major reasons behind e-commerce site abandonment is mistrust. Even if a customer does end up selecting their choice, there is no reference material to validate the quality of their choice.

Adding customer reviews provides your potential leads the information they need to finalize their purchase. Reviews are regarded as reliable content by customers since they are provided by users who have previously purchased their choice of items and submitted honest responses absent of promotional intent. Customer reviews also serve as freely submitted, original content on your website which increases SERP ratings and enhances user experience.

4. Link Building (Quality Over Quantity)

A prevailing misconception about link building is that if an e-commerce marketer has a diverse network of links, it will automatically direct maximum traffic towards his or her website.

Contrary to this belief, successful influencers and veteran e-commerce professionals know that placing inbound and outbound links everywhere can reduce website credibility and traffic.

Placing links indiscriminately on low rated websites can ultimately cause lower SERP rankings since search engines also penalize websites that promote their links on sites blacklisted by them.

5. Implement 301 Redirects

Implement 301 redirects to cultivate the benefit of inbound links present in website pages which no longer exist. Providing a 301 redirect allows you to send users towards another page of the website that is relevant to their query.

6. Adding Keywords to Anchor Text

Optimize your content by integrating keywords within the anchor text of internal links to increase visibility and provide users with a descriptive, clickable link. This also enhances user experience through readability since the links provide the only information needed to help customers find pages, contributing to a much higher CTR.

7. End Reliance on Pay Per Click (PPC)

PPC is essentially the fastest means available to advertise your online presence on Google and other third-party websites. It works by placing textual and visual ads on top ranks, so it gets the best attention on SERPs and web pages. The catch to it is each time a click is made the advertiser will pay for it, hence pay-per-click.

Although it is an affordable fast-track method of bringing leads to your site, PPC strategies can also backfire. Badly optimized ad copy and poorly developed landing pages can nullify the campaigns and instead damage the website’s integrity. Moreover, customers tend to place little credibility in ads hosted on other sites and are naturally reluctant to click on them.

Google statistics revealed that reliance on PPC could result in negative consequences as 89 percent of clicks were lost on average when use of AdWords was discontinued. Instead, develop strategies which incorporate organic SEO techniques for ensuring your website visibility does not decrease even with the use of PPC.

8. Utilize Product Images for SEO

Search engines’ algorithms enable image searches to allows users to find their required products and services. While many e-commerce stores tend to neglect the potential offered by optimizing images in their stores, modifying alt tags through the integration of relevant keywords is a proven strategy that can significantly enhance the crawlability your website content.

9. Specifying Priorities in SiteMap.xml

Search engines rely on sitemap.xml for crawling a website. This can be modified to prioritize certain areas of the web store and develop an order by which the pages will be identified by Google. The highly optimized pages can be assigned a higher priority through sitemap.xml to make sure they contribute to higher SERP rankings.

10. Modifying the Robots.txt file

Search engine crawlers can be directed to crawl only specific website pages by modifying the Robots.txt file. This saves website bandwidth and streamlines the operations the search engine has to perform to ascertain rankings.

You can also exclude certain areas of your website for temporary periods, allowing you to submit portions of your site to search engines while you develop the SEO strategy for other sections.

Applying SEO Effectively

Deploying result-oriented SEO techniques remains the corner stone of any successful online business. These practices will not only ensure your portal gets the right publicity on the search engines, but also bring your website to a competitive business environment where trends can be set.

Simple steps can achieve major boosts and consistently practicing them can cultivate a much greater yield in the long run. With time, your store will convert users into happy, satisfied, and loyal customers.

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