Designing a Real Estate Website that Generates Actual Leads

Edwin Deponte takes over our blog this month to discuss the real estate websites. Thanks Edwin!

Recent surveys observed that out of 6 million houses sold in 2017, 51% of the buyers found and purchased their dream homes online. It just shows how the real estate industry is expanding. And the sooner you start using a website to sell real estate, the better off you’ll be.

Still, starting your own real estate website and giving it a snazzy design and branding won’t be enough to help you thrive in the industry. You see, home buyers and sellers these days have particular expectations when it comes to real estate. You’ll need to add a few other components if you want your online real estate platform to generate leads, some of which are listed below.

Area Profiles

People rarely look properties up by state or city when visiting real estate websites and house-hunting; they check out communities and neighborhoods instead. Thus, your site needs to list out specific area profiles to make it easier for your potential clients to find what they’re looking for. Doing so will also give your website an advantage SEO-wise since the keywords, links, and videos you put on it can help your site become visible easier.

Agent Profiles

You also need to set aside a page for your profile. A real estate website is only as good and credible as the agent that represents it. Not only will real estate agents act as the face of your online brokerage, but they’ll also help your platform build relationships with your target audience (since it allows buyers and sellers alike get to know you better). Moreover, you can spruce your website up even further by including testimonials, listing active and sold properties, and adding your bio and contact info.

Integrated Community Data

Good real estate agents can sell you a home, but the great ones will offer you a lifestyle. By integrating community data and offering lifestyle in your real estate website, you’ll be able to gain an edge over your competitors. For example, if your platform lists a Tagaytay condo for sale, showcase to your target audience the schools, restaurants, and other notable spots nearby. That way, you’ll not only demonstrate your expertise regarding Tagaytay, but you’ll also be able to give your potential clients a glimpse of the lifestyle the condo can provide.

IDX and MLS Search

Integrating multiple listing services (MLS) and internet data exchange (IDX) search engines will help your real estate websites hold its own in the frontlines of the real estate industry. For one thing, it can combine all your multiple listing services into one seamless search engine. And for another, it can help visitors find open houses with community features. MLS and IDX will also help your target audience locate customized neighborhoods, as well as conduct a polygon search and have the results displayed cleanly with a side-by-side map view.

In Summary

For your real estate website to achieve success in the industry, you need it to generate leads regularly. By adding the components listed above, you’ll be able to drive, traffic, keep visitors engaged, and provide multiple points of conversion, allowing you to generate as many leads as possible.

Featured Image: Pixabay.com

Author’s Bio:


Edwin Deponte is a motivational writer who is also passionate about Social Marketing. He believes in others’ abilities and tends to bring out people’s hidden potentials through his words of inspirations and motivational articles.

Ways You Can Improve Your Website’s Customer Support System

Edwin Deponte takes over our blog this month to discuss the website customer support system improvements. Thanks Edwin!

It is no great secret that customers and clients always love good products and services most of the time. However, when things get a little too difficult, all they want is for a competent and high-quality customer support service.

There are a lot of ways in order for you to give your customers a superb support system that they need. For instance, you can use applications that promote support or have software like Kansas City’s Microsoft Dynamics CRM since more and more softwares are used to improve a company’s customer support system.

If you want to make your customer service the best, then here are some of the things that may help you achieve it.

Always hear your customers out

Customers use and contacts customer support for a reason: that is for them to be heard – whether they may be upset, disappointed, or needs help about something in your company’s services that they want to be addressed immediately. With this being said, always make it a point that you hear your customers out. No, they don’t want automated answers or scripted dialogues from you. Instead, they want to hear your side as to why they are experiencing difficulties or malfunctions from your company. By reacting nicely and honestly to their issues, they will trust you and your company that the issue that they are currently locked up to will be properly taken care of in no time. Remember that they want you to give them solutions and not reasons.

Give proper solutions, not unsolicited reactions

When a customer purchases and chooses your products or services, it only means that they trust you and your company more than your competitors. In addition, it also means that they have chosen your customer service experience and they are assured that you will give them a competent and high-quality service.

With this in mind, when they call you and asks for help and gives complaints about your product or services, never give them unsolicited reactions that will not solve the issue. Instead, explain to them thoroughly as to why they are going through that issue and then give solutions that will resolve it as soon as possible. By doing this, you are strengthening their trust in your brand, which in turn, makes them loyal to you as you are giving them the quality service that they paid for.

Take advantage of technology and use it wisely

It is with no doubt that technology is indeed everyone’s best friend in this time and age. In fact, more and more companies use technology to deliver their product and services to their customers. Sadly, some companies use this to make things easier from their end – not on the customer’s side.

With this being said, always use technology to your company’s advantage. For instance, make use of applications that most of your customers use such as:

  • Live video chat
  • Screen sharing
  • Branded links
  • Apps that provide support
  • Social Media

By using this, you are ensured that you are reaching out to your customers effectively, and at the same time, efficiently. As a result, you are not only delivering superb customer service, hence, you are also making your company the best among others.

Avoid giving scripted answers to your customers

One of the most common mistakes that customer service supports are doing is giving scripted answers or automated responses. Always remember that your customers want an active and a real participant in their problem-solving phase, not a robot or AI. As a matter of fact, customers don’t like and appreciate the mere fact that companies use this kind of technique, most especially when they are having difficulties and giving complaints about the product or service they purchased.

To avoid doing this, here are some tips that may help you when in this kind of situation:

  • Always be clear when you talk to your customer/s
  • Articulate properly
  • Use passive tones when talking with your customers
  • Stay friendly and enthusiastic with them

Moreover, try offering or doing something helpful to them. This will definitely make your customers’ experience more fun and enjoyable.

Key Takeaway

A customer support system is indeed one of the hardest and most challenging departments in a company. However, following these tips will ensure that you will be delivering high-quality support to your customers always.

Source of Featured Image: Envato.com

Author’s Bio:


Edwin Deponte is a motivational writer who is also passionate about Social Marketing. He believes in others’ abilities and tends to bring out people’s hidden potentials through his words of inspirations and motivational articles.

How To Set Up Your Website Using GreenGeeks And Softaculous Via cPanel

Setting up your website using GreenGeeks

Having a website is one of the most important things in today’s virtual world. With the developments that has taken place in the dynamics of today’s world, creating your website has become far easier than it was before the new century started. A person who doesn’t even have the slightest knowledge about developing code like PHP or HTML can easily construct their own website. Although, knowing these languages will help you develop your website further in the future, but even without them, you can easily develop a simple website with spectacular results. This article will elaborate on the step by step process that you need to implement in order to build a great website using our favorite hosting company, GreenGeeks.

Picking the platform to build your website on

The times have changed when you needed to be technically sound and have ample developer’s knowledge in order to create a website. These days, you can create a website without having to enter even one code line. Different platforms are available which does this job for you, therefore it is very important to choose the right platform to build your website. The simplest of websites can be created with the help of this brilliant platform known as WordPress. While creating a website you also need to consider that the platform you have chosen provides you options of creating smartphone compatible websites. Since most of the internet users of the world are on mobile, creating a smartphone compatible website is a must in order to guarantee maximum success of your venture. The level of code knowledge that you have is also important while choosing a platform, since some are perfect for beginners, while others demand advanced knowledge of coding. The support system provided by the platform is another thing that you need to consider. Some platforms have brilliant assistance, while others not so much.

The types of platforms available

There are a number of different platforms that are available for website creation, and some of them have been named below. They include:

  • WordPress
  • Joomla
  • Drupal
  • CubeCart
  • Pretashop

If you are using GreenGeeks, a number of different platforms are available with the Softaculous installer, that can load various types of website builders with simple clicks of a mouse.

Using WordPress

WordPress is probably the most versatile software that allows you to build your website. You can probably achieve anything on WordPress even if you have beginner’s knowledge, or are a pro coder. WordPress has interesting features like adjusting itself automatically depending on the resolution of the visitor. A lot of free themes makes customization easy. It is optimized for smartphones and several plugins help you develop the website of your dreams. Being hugely popular, WordPress forums and assistance is also easy to come by, and the most exciting aspect of this app is that it is completely free to use.

Decide your domain name and provider for web hosting services

The next step involves selecting the domain name for your website and it should be unique and indicative of the content that you are going to post. You also need to take care that your domain name is short, does not have hard spellings, and has the right extension in order to eliminate chances of confusion and provide convenience of use from anywhere around the world.

Choosing your web hosting plan

The correct web hosting plan will enable you to use your funds wisely and also maintain your blog without suffering a loss. A simple plan to host blogs, to higher plans that are suited for big corporate firms are available in the market. Depending on your needs you should choose the correct choice. GreenGeeks is probably the best site that is available in this category, owing to their huge variety of plans.

Why use GreenGeeks?

Have you ever considered your effect on the nature for just using the internet? It might seem like a distant thought, but in reality, a huge amount of energy is used to keep the internet up and running, all around the world. The amount of energy that is consumed as a result of this is only next to the level consumed by the industry of aviation. The amount of greenhouse gases as a result of this is enormous. However, webhosting services like GreenGeeks are kind of saviors in this department. For every unit of energy that is consumed by GreenGeeks for their webhosting services, they purchase 3 times the same amount of credits in wind energy. As a result, GreenGeeks is 300% powered by green energy, leaving a carbon footprint that is negative. Therefore, it is an eco-friendly choice to use GreenGeeks, not to mention the huge ease of use and varied options that this web hosting service provides. You can get your web hosting services from GreenGeeks by simply clicking on the hyperlink.

Install WordPress and Configure it

Once your domain name and web hosting service has been properly set up, the next part is installing WordPress and configuring it. You can either install WordPress automatically or use the manual method. The automatic method is the easiest and is highly recommended. When using GreenGeeks, this process is done with the use of Softaculous, which completes the process by doing databases of its own and providing you with the access and passwords to the admin accounts. You can access Softaculous using the dashboard of cPanel in GreenGeeks.

Installing a theme on WordPress

The next part of the process involves you selecting the theme for your website. Consideration of your preferences, niche of your website and whether you want paid or free themes must be done before installing it. You need to be careful while selecting these as it is this very facet that decides the overall look of your website. Installing a theme can be easily done through the admin panel with the help of a few mouse clicks. In case you do not like the theme, you can change it instantly to get a better result.

Some important plugins for WordPress

Plugins are important aspects of websites as they provide it with functionality. For example, installing a FAQ section on your website will give it a professional touch. Some of the most popular plugins on WordPress and ones your website will definitely benefit from include:

  • TinyMCE
  • YoastSEO
  • Wordfence Security
  • Jetpack
  • Google Analytics Dashboard for WordPress

Proper addition of content on your website

After having installed WordPress and configuring it, the next part involves providing the proper content for your website. Your visitors need to have solid information to read when they visit your website. Three important parts of a website’s content includes posts, pages and menus. It is important how these three functions and how to write each.

  • Pages- Pages include the content of your website that does not change over time. These hold the static information of your website and examples include ‘Contact’ page or ‘About Us’ page. Pages usually feature on the navigation bar of websites.

  • Posts- Posts are the reason that people visit your website. These are content that you update on a daily basis in order to generate traffic for your website. You need to create informative, interesting and SEO optimized posts to keep your website faring well.

  • Menu- The menu is the part of your website which makes it interactive and helps the users be able to make use of the different features and content of your website. It also helps them navigate your website. In WordPress, you can use simple drag and drop methods to move different items of the menu around in your website and place them at your desired location. It is important to remember that the navigation menu should be clean and easy to operate. Confusing navigation menus, often avert visitors.

Extras

There are some extras that you need to take care of in order to ensure highest profitability of your website. Some of these extras include:

  • Adjusting the settings- The settings area in your WordPress contains useful tools which can be utilized to better your website. Things like time zone, handling of comments, format of dates, themes etc. are handled by these settings tools, and can help you achieve the desired results to make your website perfect. You should go through every single tool available in the settings and tweak them according to your needs. They are all user-friendly and easy to understand. If you find a tool too confusing to use, you can always come back to it at a later date.

  • Making money from your website- The next step that you need to achieve is to find out ways to make money from your website. WordPress allows you to achieve this with ease. You can always use methods like affiliate links and AdSense to monetize your website and pull visitors. The more traffic you experience the greater money you make. Another brilliant way to start making money from your website is by turning your website into an online commerce store. Plugins like Woo Commerce, available on WordPress are perfect for this.

  • Marketing your website- The next step is marketing your website. Digital marketing has evolved brilliantly in today’s world with options like social media marketing and email marketing. Your content can only bring as many people. The real way to bring visitors to your website is through marketing and you need to take care of this important requirement.

Setting up cPanel using Softaculous

What is Softaculous?

Softaculous is an installer that functions automatically and is used to install different scripts and control panels like Direct Admin and cPanel. It is a very fast installer and is capable of reaching its goal in just a single step. A number of different applications is available with Softaculous which include forums, content management systems and blogs. You can also avail the brilliant anytime backup installation feature present in Softaculous for easy and instant backup. It is also easy to uninstall the applications that you have installed with Softaculous. It is important to have this tool properly set up in order to enable you to build your website efficiently.

What is cPanel?

cPanel is a control panel that operates on Linux based platform and is used for accounts in web hosting services. It is a control panel that allows you to efficiently manage all of the services in a single place. Using cPanel is a must in today’s developed world and almost every web developer makes use of this tool. This tool is intuitive and fairly easy to make use of. With the help of cPanel, you would be able to manage your web hosting account very efficiently. Different uses of cPanel include creation of new email addresses and FTP users, monitor different resources, installing software and creating sub domains.

Installing cPanel using Softaculous

Before you start installing cPanel with the use of Softaculous, you need to make sure that your server has the requisite features. These include:

  • WHM/cPanel needs to be already installed.
  • ionCube Loader needs to be enabled.

In order for WHM/cPanel to work, you need to install CentOS as the operating system of your VPS. After the VPS is set and ready, and WHM/cPanel has been enabled, the next step involves enabling the ionCube Loader. In order to do so, you need to log into your WHM in the root mode and go to the option Server Configuration>Tweak Settings>PHP. Over here you will see a box beside the option ionCube as cPanel PHP. All you need to do is check on that button and click on the button that displays save. After this step, you can proceed towards installing the Softaculous installer on the VPS that you are using. However, you need to log in to the VPS that you are using via the SSH and then proceed towards executing the commands mentioned below, one after the other. They include:

Post this the installation will start and once that is done, Softaculous will get enabled and you can start using it on your WHM. You also need to log inside your WHM and proceed to the location Plugins>Softaculous- Instant Installs. You will be able to see that the Softaculous has been enabled and cPanel clients of yours can start using it. All they need to do is log inside their accounts in cPanel and start using this wonderful installer to start installing the application that they want. Softaculous is available in both premium and trial versions and you would need to pay in order to use the premium version. Otherwise the trial will expire after a limited period and you can no longer use the features of this brilliant auto installer. Using the premium version is most recommended in order to avail maximum benefits.

With the help of the information on this article, you would be able to build the perfect website for yourself and take on the virtual world with a strong and optimized website.

What Makes an SEO Company so Special for a Small Business

Brittany Wolfe takes over our blog this month to discuss the search engine optimization and small business. Thanks Brittany!

SEO has become the new sensation to the marketing world. However, there must be several people who are out to find the answers that what makes an SEO firm so unique that the small firms are choosing them over traditional methods of advertising and marketing.

We all are aware of the fact that SEO helps small business owners to create the fastest, user-friendly and robust way to interact with the infinite customers in minimum time. With all the cut-throat competition, it is impossible to get the top ranks on the SERPs. Here are the top reasons that will ease your quest in finding the viable answer to “Why small businesses should hire the best seo company in NJ.

Move Ahead from the Competitors

The counting will never end of your competitors who are selling products in the perfect competition. Meanwhile, making a name and fame among the tough competition becomes more arduous. The primary factor to reach the top of the race is to reach your audiences first.

If you are entangled that how your competitor is ahead of you? Then, we must unfurl you that they are using SEO to boost their success. Therefore, it is time to utilise the services of SEO companies to achieve higher organic rankings. You can have your team of SEO experts but as you are new to the business then save your money and recruitment- energy by outsourcing to it.

Your Audience will Find you

In the diverse customer market, some uncountable customers are in search of the exact product that you are selling. However, they will swap to your competitor’s website if they will not see your website on the top SERPs results. Therefore, to never miss a loophole, you should hire the best seo company in NJ. They will ensure that your potential customers will find you when they click on the search button. For adding more connotation, you should know that the top 3 seach positions get 60% of all traffic.

You will Notice more Traffic.

The main aim of the seo company is to increase the traffic on your website because when people are visiting sites, they are likely to purchase it. In simple terms, visibility means traffic; transport means leads and more leads means more sales. It is impossible to open your store 24*7 but, your online store is the all-time sales expert. Therefore, it should continuously be functioning to deliver secure access.

Brand Identity

No matter how much you invest in your business, if your potential customers don’t know your identification than it is worthless. To hold you up among the voguish brands, a seo agency is very important. Along with this factor, there are other perks of having a brand identity. Accordingly, the brand becomes a hallmark of quality. Customers feel more secure with a company who is known by many.

Better Impression

Just search something on the Google, how you feel about the snippet you are reading? You will feel more secure and confident about the company’s website which is appearing in the snippet. In simple words, if your snippet is clear and inspiring, you have more probabilities of getting more clicks.

Conclusion: We hope that the points mentioned above have cleared you why SEO agencies have become so crucial for our lives. Also, benefit your new company with the SEO services to become a known brand from no brand.

 

Author’s Bio:


Hi, I am a content writer & blogger at Red Dash Media. And apart from blogging frequently at work, I am into reading, writing poems in the comfort space of my home. Hey, did I tell you that I also like to go trekking with friends when in the mood to explore nature and then post all those adorable pics from my adventure on my Instagram handle!

Contact me via email – brittanywolfenj@gmail.com

Ways Web Designers Can Add Value to the Open Source Community

Edwin Deponte takes over our blog this month to discuss the open source community. Thanks Edwin!

Web designs in the Philippines and elsewhere are one of the crucial factors that can either make or break your website. With numerous designs to choose from, it is indeed one of the hardest decisions that any developer and designer must make. Good thing there are softwares like open source that can aid them to choose what kind of design that they can do.

Whether you are a web developer or a web designer, here are some of the things that you can add value to the open source community.

Create collaboration

It is indeed true that in an open source community, you will never feel the professional vibe. Instead, what the open source community provides is collaboration with one another. With this in mind, what it can greatly offer its new and old members is the opportunity to have that sense of individuality and creativity – which in turn, what makes them as one.

However, being involved in this community does not mean that they compete with one another. Hence, it brings them all together and binds them to create another design that will help both present and future community members as its main goal is to give solution – to them and to their clients.

Share unlimited resources

Given that the open source community helps one another to craft new creations and bring more solutions, these efforts will result to having unlimited resources from the community. This is because each member will develop and enhance each product, which in turn, will help to support existing users and customers. In short, if a solution is needed, the chances are high that someone will create and develop it.

Promote freedom

Another thing that makes the open source community a great place for web developers and web designers is that it is free for all to use. With this being said, there are a lot of developers and designers that use this software – which in turn, gives a lot of room for flexibility. If there are moments that you are not satisfied with your current developer’s work, there are other developers and designers that can do the work for you. However, just be careful to whom you will give your work to. Always make sure that you get the right one so that you will avoid hassles and delays in the long run.

Practice flexibility

Since the open source community is free for the public, this means that it does not have the limitations and constraints for web developers and web designers to customize it the way they like it. With this in mind, personalizing and configuring the design and the codes means that you can freely customize it to your liking has no limit. As a result, you can configure it as much as you want.

Reduce costs

The open source community is, of course, free of costs as it is open for all to use. The only thing that it will cost you is the effort and labor that you exert in it. With this being said, you can allocate your funds to something else – whether it may be a brand new computer, the latest software that you can use, or with an expert developer and designer that can do the job.

Key Takeaway

The open source software is indeed a great and effective tool that you can use in order for you to create the design that you want – from websites to web designs. For this reason, it is a must that you have this in your arsenal to ensure that you will have unlimited ideas and knowledge about websites and web designs that you can customize and modify.

Source of Featured Image: Pexels.com

 

Content Sources:

https://www.commonplaces.com/blog/benefits-of-building-a-website-with-open-source-software

 

https://artversion.com/blog/the-benefits-of-using-open-source-technologies-in-web-development/

 

https://www.designer-daily.com/the-benefits-of-open-source-software-for-web-design-61286

Author’s Bio:


Edwin Deponte is a motivational writer who is also passionate about Social Marketing. He believes in others’ abilities and tends to bring out people’s hidden potentials through his words of inspirations and motivational articles.

5 Ways for Improving the Speed of Your Website

Jessica Kane takes over our blog this month to discuss page speed. Thanks Jessica!

In our world today, everything moves fast, from same-day delivery to instant updates. With extremely high expectations of customers, you do not even have 10 seconds to convince visitors to stay while your website loads. No one wants to spend time waiting for a page when they can just press the back button and go to another site.

The competition is getting fiercer each day and users are demanding for websites to be lightning fast. According to stats, the average load speed of retail sites is more than seven seconds when the ideal load time is three seconds at most. The few second differential costs retailers to lose billions. In fact, a delay of one second in page response can easily lead to seven percent sales reduction.

Page speed has even more implications aside from the loss of revenue and poor user experience. Your website’s slow loading also affects your Google rankings. It’s no longer a matter of wanting to improve your site’s speed; it is a need. The good news is that you can improve your website’s loading times in many ways. The top five ways are listed below:

Start optimizing your database.

Not all sites have databases, but you use one if you have a blog, e-commerce store, or any website with dynamic features, such as internal search. You utilize the database to store information, and unfortunately, it can impact the way your page loads.

One of the best techniques in optimizing your database is to add an index, which can significantly boost your page speed. When indexed, the database can locate information quicker, so it does not have to scan numerous records. Instead, it can narrow down the available data up to at least a few hundred, which aids in returning the data to the page faster than ever.

Reduce HTTP requests.

When the browser fetches a page, picture, or file from a web server, it is a Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP) request. Yahoo has disclosed that these requests take up to 80% of your site’s load time. Browsers typically limit requests from four to eight connections at the same time for every domain. The more HTTP requests that you have to load for your page, the longer it will take for your site to retrieve each of them. As a result, your load time increases.

To fix this problem, you have several tactics to choose from in decreasing the HTTP requests, including:

Lowering the number of images on your website
Combining multiple JavaScript or CSS files, so they load as one larger file instead
Utilize queries for loading what you only need, such as certain images or a specific script for mobile users
Uniting images that frequently appear on your site using one sprite sheet

You do not have to perform all the methods above but following at least one or two of them can dramatically decrease the time for loading each page.

Reduce the size of your images.

Some sites, including retail, require images, which are helpful in enticing customers to engage with the content and make a purchase. More than 60% of your site’s page weight though comes from the images you have uploaded. While removing them can increase the speed of your website, most of the photos may be necessary for e-commerce, for instance.

You do not have to get rid of the photos because making sure they are appropriately sized can help significantly. A few ways will allow you to accomplish this goal, including using new formats, such as JPEG XR and WebP. These formats allow you to lessen the weight of the images by up to 50%. The best part is that the methods below lower image size without sacrificing their quality:

Use an image editor and reduce the actual size before uploading.
As with above, taking your commonly used images and combining them into CSS sprites minimizes HTTP requests required for downloading the page.
The container property’s max width should not exceed 90% of the boundary width

You can also set the images to auto resize to the maximum width (100%) and have the height set to auto.

Use CDNs

Many of your site’s users are not close to your web server. You can try to spread your content across different servers in various geographic locations, which can reduce the distance but it is too complicated. You need a viable option to implement, which comes in the form of a content delivery network or CDN.

CDNs are a group of web servers that are situated across varying locations. They help in delivering content more efficiently to the users. CDNs are frequently used for files that do not need editing (static content) once they are uploaded.

Companies usually have their own CDN, but most businesses benefit from a CDN provider. If these service providers are out of your budget and perhaps unnecessary, you can still use CND sites that have a library of CSS and JavaScript files and frameworks. These websites can facilitate hosting specific data, so you do not have to host them on your own server. As a result, your load times are much speedier than ever.

Enable caching.

When users visit your site, the elements on your page are stored in their hard drive’s temporary storage or cache. The next time they go to your site, the browser loads the page faster because it does not have to perform another HTTP request as before.

Up to 60% of your site’s visitors have an empty cache. When you enable browser caching, the first page they see will be much quicker because the elements will be stored in their hard drive. Make sure this functionality is activated on your site for improved user experience.

The primary reason why you own a site is to gain traffic and of course, make money. The flashy images and eye-catching buttons may seem trendy, but they can be detrimental. If they cause your visitors to wait more than 10 seconds, you need to optimize your site, so it runs as efficiently as possible.


Jessica Kane is a writer for Every USB, where you can create your very own custom usb drive for your brand or company.

What is AMP and does your website need it?

Jessica Kane takes over our blog this month to discuss AMP. Thanks Jessica!

The Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) project allows web developers to create smooth, fast-loading web pages. Created by Google in 2015, the original goal of AMP was to improve the experience of browsing the web on a mobile phone. Today, most users interact with AMP through Google search results, although Facebook has also developed a similar platform, known as Instant Articles.

The 3 Components of AMP Pages

AMP can be broken down into three core components: AMP HTML, AMP JS, and AMP Cache.

AMP HTML is basically the normal HTML programming language used by web developers all over the world with a few changes. Namely, AMP HTML adds some restrictions to traditional HTML in an effort to provide a more reliable performance. Additionally, AMP HTML also has its own unique features such as AMP-specific tags that enable unsupported features in browsers.

Much like AMP HTML, the goal of AMP JS is to improve the performance and speed of mobile web browsing. Specifically, AMP JS is focused on rendering web pages as quickly as possible. One of the key areas of optimization for AMJ pages is that AMP JS forces everything on the page to load asynchronously, which means one part of the page that is loading slowly will not slow down other aspects of the page.

Finally, AMP Cache is another key ingredient of the AMP platform that serves cached versions of AMP pages. AMP Cache improves loading speeds and reliability by serving cached versions of web pages that have been pre-validated to load properly to site visitors.

Who Uses AMP?

Due to the heavy use of AMP in Google Search, AMP was able to obtain 7 percent of all traffic to top publishers in the United States by early 2017, roughly a year after the project was officially launched. By May 2017, 900,000 different web domains were publishing AMP pages. The growth of AMP took another major leap in the summer of 2017 when Twitter started to link to AMP pages from their mobile apps.

Any third party is able to integrate in to the AMP platform as long as they comply with the protocol specifications. For example, 30 analytics companies and 120 advertising companies have participated in the AMP Project, building their own features along the way.

AMP has been so successful that even some of Google’s key competitors, such as Bing and Baidu, now link to AMP pages. Other major websites that link to AMP pages include Reddit, LinkedIn, WordPress, Tumblr, eBay, and Pinterest.

One of the key reasons for the massive adoption of AMP by the online publishing world (in addition to fast loading times) is that these types of pages also cut down on the amount of data people use when they’re not connected to a Wi-Fi router. By cutting away a lot of the junk, such as pop-ups, that are associated with the desktop browsing experience, web developers are able to also lower the literal cost of loading a page in terms of the effect on site visitors’ monthly mobile phone bill.

Does Your Website Need AMP?

At this point, AMP has become the way in which web browsing works best on mobile devices. Google has indicated that AMP pages sourced from Google Search results will load in less than one second. Third party reviews from CNBC and Gizmodo have also found large improvements in loading times when compared to traditional web pages.

To give users a user-friendly browsing experience on their mobile devices, especially when they’re visiting a website for the first time, implementing AMP is basically a requirement these days. With AMP, anyone who has their own website for business or personal reasons can be sure no one is going to change their mind about viewing a site while waiting for it to load.


Jessica Kane is a professional blogger who focuses on personal finance and other money matters. She currently writes for Checkworks.com, where you can get personal checks and business checks.

Top Web Design Trends for 2019

Let’s be honest, web design trends are moving much faster than most people would like but at the same time, the world is a much more beautiful place with some of the latest tends out there. It’s true, automation is slowly improving the online world and with unique illustrations and more detail, websites in general are a lot easier on the eye.

But what can we expect in the upcoming year in terms of web design trends?

Let’s take a closer look at the facts and some of the most effective web design trends for 2019:

Top Web Design Trends for 2019


Mobile First and Everything Else Second

Web design is changing at lightening pace and even the word “responsive” can seem a little outdated. Now, that’s not to say responsive no longer matters but simply top point out that websites need to be far more than just responsive to stay relevant and efficient in 2019.

On the other hand, progressive advancement and graceful degradation sound a little more contemporary or up-to-date. More importantly, the comparison between these two give reason for thought in the same way that responsive design did just a few years ago.

As you know, responsive web design simply means that a website will fit the screen and change according to various devices. Needless to say, this improves and simplifies the user experience.

Progressive advancement refers to a process in which the website is designed for lower browsers in a very basic form and then improved upon to make the site more advanced for tablets and PC. Meanwhile, graceful degradation starts by creating an advanced version of the website on desktop and then simplifying this experience for browsers with a lower capability.

However, the problem with graceful degradation is that designers are severely restricted when they start work on the mobile version. After all, they are now stripping down a superior design and creating a simpler version which merely resembles the original without the same functions.

For this reason, mobile first is the way forward in 2019 and the best option for web designers who want to create the ultimate mobile experience and then go about upgrading this even further for desktop.

Chatbots for Interaction and Discreet CTA’s

If you’re like me, you think that artificial intelligence is highly effective and if you listen to Elon Musk, you might even think it’s about to take over the world. Whether AI takes over the world or not, chatbots will be highly important to web design in the upcoming year.

You see, there is now an entire industry dedicated to chatbots and experts predict a market value of $1.3 billion just five years from now. In fact, most major companies and websites are already using chatbots from Facebook and Ebay to a deep black hole called Amazon.

But why are chatbots so important for web design?

Chatbots improve and increase user engagement. If designed the right way, these chatbots are highly effective at retaining customers and providing valuable information without delay. That is to say, conventional customer service is unable to match the speed of chatbots and as long as the information is accurate, most customers care more about receiving this data rather than how it came about.

As if that’s not enough, chatbots are thought to be less intrusive than a standard call-to-action (CTA). After all, most people are tired of the same old prompts to register, signup or buy now and more likely to interact with a useful chatbot through which they can find the most relevant information.

Long Form Content and the Slow Death of Sidebars

When Google released the Medic Update this year, it showed a clear preference for websites with long form content. Interestingly, long form content was often the most confusing and infuriating to read! However, times have changed and as the speed of internet continues to increase, it’s much easier to publish this type of content without it appearing like a slow and cluttered mess.

At the same time, web design can certainly enhance the experience and one way to do this is by using wide pages with less clutter on the screen. Yes, this includes the beloved sidebar and as we move to mobile first, we might be witnessing the slow death of the sidebar completely.

As you know, search rankings are essential for every website and so the importance of simplicity needs to be respected going forward. With this in mind, imagery and infographics are certain to become even more important for long form content and essential for containing a ten-page article within just two or three pages.

Although long form content is usually the product of a writer, web designers will need to respect this trend in 2019 and keep things simplified – especially when it comes to a blog.

Typography for Increased Personality

You might be familiar with Buzzfeed or Mashable and the large typography they use between images. There was a time when large letters and elegant font would have been unacceptable for most websites but opinion has clearly shifted and custom typography is on the rise.

You see, at a time when content is everywhere and saturation is high, typography is now one of the quickest ways to make a web page stand out. It’s true, you need interesting content to capture the reader’s attention but custom fonts can bring even more personality to the words and create a much stronger bond with readers in the process. As if that’s not enough, contrasting fonts can be used for headings and sub-headings and we all know how much Google likes to see a clear and structured set of headings.

In case you might be asking yourself, the likes of Buzzfeed or Mashable are not great examples of this process but for a little inspiration, click here or here or for something more retro – here!

Custom Illustrations for Story-Driven Content

Just a few years ago, Instagram Stories amassed more than 100 million users within a month and more than 300 million monthly users just a few years later. It was the start of a meteoric rise for the platform and pretty much the end of Snapchat. In fact, recent studies show that 45% of professional marketers are now utilizing Instagram as part of the content marketing plan.

But why am I telling you this?

Well, story-driven content was the most successful marketing tactic last year and there’s every reason to suggest this trend will continue. More specifically, an image is worth a thousand words and custom illustrations are the perfect tool for storytelling.

With this in mind, you should see that web design with integrated custom illustrations is far more likely to increase engagement. What’s more, custom illustrations tend to increase dwell time which is highly important for search rankings. In other words, the longer an online user stays on a certain page, the higher Google will rank this page in search results.

At the same time, custom illustrations just look better and while they tend to be more memorable than text, they are often more accurate when it comes to portraying a certain message or identity for the website.

Either way, custom illustrations are already popular and this trend is sure to continue in 2019.

As you can see, web design trends continue to change and there is now a clear preference for function over form. In other words, websites and procedures might look really nice but without the right functionality, they serve as little more than negligent distractions to the average online user.

Function Over Form: Development Vs. Design

The terms web development and web design are often confused and thought to be one and the same thing. The roles that are involved in each of the niches are often thought to be composed of similar elements. Although, it is true that some factors have to be considered by both the parties in order to reach a consensus since web development and web design are both interdependent. The fact remains that both of these two lines of work that are crucial to the formation of a website are actually starkly distinctive from each other. When it comes to the roles associated with web development vs. web design, both differ from each other on various grounds.

What is Web Design?

Think of web designers as artists that help in building a story or an idea into something that can be presented in a visually appealing aspect. They help build a layout for a website that achieves the client’s vision regarding the user experience of the website. A web designer is a person who is responsible for how a website looks and feels. A web designer does a job that is similar to an architect building a plan before starting construction on your house. The web designer is the person who draws out the initial layout of the website (just like the plans of an architect) before a web developer can input his efforts to develop (similar to the construction of the house) the website.

The role of a web designer is not as easy as it seems. They have to create the initial impression that you would have when you visit a website and, along with it, integrate the elements of user experience in order to create an environment which appears to be welcoming. They have to transform an idea into a design that can be used while also serving the purpose of being a great user interface. They also have the task of creating a site that catches the attention of the user. If the website fails to adopt a well-knit design strategy before the beginning of the project, then it is sure to fail. In today’s day and age a web designer enjoys the same respect as a web developer because it has been realized that great coding would be futile if the user experience that complements it is not done properly.

The elements of typography, colors, design, aesthetics, textures, unity, branding, user experience, user interaction, and emphasis all come under the purview of a good web design. All of the visual elements that are capable of making a website look great while also serving the goals of the client, whether that is lead capture, promotion of an event, or ecommerce. Web designing applications include programs like Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator, Mockplus, and UXPin can be used to help build up the user experience of a website.

What is Web Development?

Web developers are those people who are capable of transforming the design aspects of a webpage into a live and functional website that is actually capable of working. Different kinds of software tools and web languages that are used for programming and coding are utilized by web developers in order to create a functional website.

Even web developers are divided further into two consecutive sub-categories. These two categories are namely back-end developers and front-end developers.

Front-end developers are those people who have some knowledge in both the fields of developing and designing. They are the connection between a back-end developer and a web designer. A front-end developer is responsible for building up the interface of the website and making the website interactive in order to connect the layout at the user’s end along with the back-end servers of the website. The most important programming languages that are used by front-end developers include HTML, CSS/SCSS, and JavaScript (JQuery, React, Angular, and Vue being the most popular libraries and frameworks).

Back-end developers, on the other hand, are those developers who are responsible for controlling the requests and the server data of the website. Most websites which consist of dynamic data as part of their database require services on the back-end. If a website is designed to serve the purpose of storing user information and making said information available at a later stage, creating and managing a back-end database is intrinsic. Database connections are required in order to manage such queries and back-end developers take help of programs like ASP.NET and PHP in order to write these kinds of database queries in MySQL, SQL, MongoDB, or other database languages.

Function over form: Web Development vs. Web Design

When you talk about form of an object, it basically refers to how the object looks, or what visual features it possesses. In the world involving the intricacies of building a website this aspect refers to the web designing department. On the other hand, function of an object refers to the purpose that the object aims to serve. In the world of websites, web development is the department that best describes this term.

In the words of the famous American architect Louis Sullivan, “Whether it be the sweeping eagle in his flight, or the open apple-blossom, the toiling work-horse, the blithe swan, the branching oak, the winding stream at its base, the drifting clouds, over all the coursing sun, form ever follows function, and this is the law. Where function does not change, form does not change…It is the pervading law of all things organic and inorganic, of all things physical and metaphysical, of all things human and all things superhuman, of all true manifestations of the head, of the heart, of the soul, that the life is recognizable in its expression, that form ever follows function. This is the law.”

What these words try to mean is that whatever be the entity, it is always the functionality of that entity which decides how the entity shall be formed. Modernism has impacted these philosophies and therefore led to the conception that it is the functionality of an object which decides how it should look. Even in the world of building a website, this notion holds true whereby it is the function of a website that decides how a website should look like or how it should be formed.

It is true that designing, in most scenarios, involves designing the website first before the developing is started. However, every time a web designer designs a website, he/she has to keep in mind the function that the web page is being designed to serve. A web designer must keep in mind the basic interactive experience that the web page must provide and the features that need to be highlighted in order to allow the users to do a particular task on the webpage. Therefore, it is without doubt that a web designer must always design a web page depending upon the factors that are most important to its functionality and thereby shape the webpage to look a particular way that best serves these functionalities. The web developer simply tweaks the web page at the end of the designing process to enable the functionalities that the web page has been designed to serve in the initial place. Hence the function is always considered before the form and the entire webpage is designed based on that, only to be programmed later to activate those functionalities. Therefore it can be easily concluded that in the debate of web development vs. web design, function always triumphs over form. This is especially true when you look at the goals of the client and the user interaction on that website. If a website has not been coded and optimized for SEO will not rank and will not draw visitors to it. If a website has not been optimized for user interaction, then the visitors who do come to the site will not give information or buy your product.

Many times designers use client sites to pad their design portfolios and win design awards, but this does not benefit the client at all. A pretty website will not generate as many leads or sales as a fully-functioning, optimized, and user-friendly site.

What is Content Marketing?

This week, we have guest blogger Jessica discussing content marketing.

Like many people, including business owners and managers, you may have heard of content marketing but are not completely certain what content marketing is all about. Content marketing generally is defined as a form of marketing that focuses on creating, publishing, and distributing content for targeted audiences on the internet.

Content marketing has a number of general goals that include:

  • attract attention
  • generate ideas
  • expand customer base
  • generate online sales
  • increase online sales
  • establish brand awareness
  • increase brand awareness
  • establish credibiity
  • enhance credibility
  • establilsh online community
  • enlarge online community

Forbes Magazine and Content Marketing

Forbes magazine was the first business publication to begin closely examining content marketing in the digital age. On some level, Forbes presents a more esoteric definition of content marketing when the magazine writes “content marketing is the mercantile version of thought leadership. As such, it is increasingly becoming one of the most powerful ways to drive and support new business development.”

Forbes goes on to explain that content marketing is the creation and distribution of:

  • meaningful insights
  • perspectives
  • best practices

These concepts are all developed and distributed to a specific audience or market niche. More on identifying a target audience or market niche is discussed in a moment.

The Real History of Content Marketing

Many marketing industry experts argue that content marketing is not merely a creature of digital age. They content that the roots of content marketing can be traced back to 1732. In that year, Benjamin Franklin issued Poor Richard’s Almanack. He published and released Poor Richard’s Almanack as a means to promote his printing business.

Another historical example of pre-internet content marketing is found in 1888. In that year, Johnson & Johnson published Modern Methods of Antiseptic Wound Treatment. This publication was targeted to physicians that used bandages.

John Deere got into the content marketing game in 1895 with the launch of In 1895, The Furrow. This is a magazine that provides information for farmers, specifically about enhancing profitability. providing information to farmers on how to become more profitable. It is still in business today, with a circulation of over a million readers. he magazine, considered the first custom publication, is still in circulation, reaching 1.5 million readers in 40 countries in 12 different languages.

At the turn of the 20th century, Jell-O salesmen, going door-to-door, distributed a cookbook at no cost. During the Depression, Procter & Gamble began to broadcast a radio serial drama sponsored by the company’s product Oxydol, a soap powder.

Content Marketing Trends

In order to fully understand content marketing at this juncture in the 21st century, you need to consider content marketing trends. One of the most significant, important content marketing trends is the rise of what commonly is called long-form content. This is lengthy, complex content that provides more than just a direct, to-the-point answer to questions.

With the rise of digital assistants like Siri and Cortana people no longer have to go to websites to get concise answers to questions. Thus, in order for content marketing to attract or snare people it needs to be more comprehensive and concise. In other words, it needs to be longer.

Another content marketing trend is that the ever-expanding role social media platforms play in regard to this form of marketing will continue to enlarge into the future. Research reveals that articles glean more attention when published on a social media platform like Facebook than they do when published on websites.

An additional note on social media and content marketing warrants a mention. When a business utilizes multiple social media platforms, as many do, an effort must be made to coordinate content marketing across all social media platforms. While there may be some differences in what is presented on one social media platform as opposed to another, there needs to be appropriate consistence in themes, data, and objectives between different social media platforms.

Defining a Target Audience

At the heart of a successful content marketing effort is defining your target audience or market niche. In some instances defining a target audience is not all that difficult. On the other hands, there are businesses and brands as well as products or services that present a bit of a challenge in really focusing on a suitable target audience.

There are content marketing professionals that can assist a business in appropriately identifying a suitable market niche for a content marketing effort. With that said, there are many instances in which a business needs to target more than one market segment separately for different content marketing efforts. For example, a business may have a product that is used by disparate market segments. What is suitable for one audience, what is effective in one market niche, may not be appropriate let alone effective somewhere else. This is a reality despite disparate market segments naturally having a use or interest in the same product.

Metrics of Determining Success of Content Marketing Campaign

As with any marketing endeavor, the success of content marketing needs to be assessed. As a consequence, a set of metrics commonly is utilized to ascertain the success of content marketing. These metrics are:

  • number of visitors to a page
  • time spent on a page
  • click-through across pages
  • click0through photos
  • number of email addresses collected

Other metrics can also come into play depending on the nature of a business undertaking a content marketing effort. In addition, the focused goals of a content marketing campaign necessarily impact the specific metrics utilized.

By taking advantage of content marketing, a paying close attention to the specifics enumerated in this article, you place your business in the best possible position to develop, launch, and run an ultimately successful content marketing endeavor. The net effect of this is to enhance a businesses revenue and profit.

 

Jessica is a professional blogger who writes for Faxage, a leading company that provide Internet fax service services for individuals and businesses.