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Are You Ignoring Your Omnichannel Efforts?


 

“Omnichannel” is a prominent buzzword in B2B Marketing 2017. It is concept that’s become necessary in a business sphere that runs on multiple devices. As businesses branch out to implement desktops, smartphones, tablets, smart watches, and other devices into their business strategies, B2B marketers do themselves a disservice by only focusing on mass marketing. Instead, marketers need to join the shift toward omnichannel marketing – a shift consumers made long since. Here’s how to master your omnichannel before it’s too late.

Are You Ignoring Your Omnichannel Efforts

What Is Omnichannel Marketing?

To capitalize on omnichannel marketing, you must first understand what it is – and what it is not. It is not multichannel marketing. Multichannel marketing publishes content on more than one channel simultaneously. Omnichannel marketing prepares your content for each and every channel. Instead of posting the same block of content on Facebook and Twitter, omnichannel marketing optimizes the post for each separate platform. The Facebook post may have a paragraph of text, while the Twitter post provides readers with a hook and a bitly link.

As the consumer journey continues to evolve, it is of the utmost importance to optimize your omnichannel marketing. There is no telling what devices or screens consumers will access websites of the future from. Consumers are already gravitating toward virtual and augmented realities for online shopping and access sites from multiple devices in a matter of minutes. Just as brick-and-mortar stores had to adapt to sell online, so must today’s B2Bs adapt to embrace changing forms of media. The solution lies in omnichannel marketing.

Marketing for the omnichannel means marketing for all channels in one. Instead of spending time optimizing your marketing for each individual device and platform, omnichannel marketing lets you accomplish the same goal with much less labor. Today’s consumers expect websites to function seamlessly across all devices. For example, a customer should be able to place an item in an online shopping cart via mobile, then go home and finish the purchase from a laptop. Your B2B must tap into the convenience of several perfectly synchronized channels to win the hearts (and business) of modern buyers.

Create a Seamless Omnichannel Experience

Now that you understand omnichannel marketing, the question of how remains. Despite the widely recognized importance of omnichannel marketing, many B2Bs are at a loss as to how to create an omnichannel. Start by transforming your marketing approach. One-on-one customer experiences lie at the heart of omnichannel marketing. Your customers thirst for personalized engagement, and omnichannel marketing can achieve exactly this – when done correctly. Let your buyer control the omnichannel process, accessing your content from whichever device desired. It is your job to make sure the experience remains seamless no matter what.

Drop the traditional sales funnel, and its boxed-in notions of the buyer process. The process is no longer as simple or streamlined as “awareness, interaction, interest, and action.” Today, a consumer may jump around the funnel or skip steps altogether. Stop thinking of customers as leads down your sales funnel. Instead, think of them as people who require a personalized experience with your company. Embrace a marketing technique such as Forrester’s customer life cycle model, which places the customer at the center. This strategy bases marketing on the customer’s view of the brand, not the brand’s view of the customer. Putting the buyer first reshapes all aspects of marketing.

You must engage with your customers on all channels equally. On the customers’ nonlinear paths to purchase, your brand must be ready to connect with them at all angles. This involves personalized offers, targeted promotions, and customer recognition. Boost engagement with an interaction history. Acknowledge users when they access your site, and tailor each customer’s interaction based on recent actions across channels. Drive these actions with data-driven insights into your customers’ behaviors, wants, and needs. Leverage your data to create micro-focused marketing campaigns that work on all devices.

Measure Your ROI to Maintain Your Omnichannel

Marketers are increasingly turning to omnichannel efforts for B2Bs, but a survey by B2B Marketing and Sitecore surprisingly revealed that only 49 percent prioritize measuring returns in investment. In addition, just 21 percent of marketers surveyed thought their omnichannel efforts would produce value. This shows a marked lack in confidence in omnichannel marketing – one not grounded in fact, but in the low priority of measuring ROI from omnichannel marketing. Marketers blame data problems and lack of resources as top barriers preventing ROI tracking.

If you’re serious about omnichannel marketing, you must make it a priority and measure your performance. Otherwise, you will be in the dark about how your efforts are coming to fruition. Measure omnichannel marketing as you would with any other campaign – see what works, what doesn’t, and make continuous improvements. Pay attention to key performance indicators, not vanity metrics such as how many likes your last Facebook post received. Look at how your omnichannel marketing efforts are paying off in terms of lead generations and conversions.

Data is everywhere. It’s up to you to leverage it to your advantage. Focus on individual efforts on multiple channels, then look at your overall success on the omnichannel. Both need to work together to optimize the customer experience. Tailor your messages to be appropriate according to what channel your customers are accessing. Analyze the relevancy of your content, and use consumer data and insights to continue improving. Measuring your ROI is the only way to make sure your B2B benefits from omnichannel marketing.

Leverage Omnichannel Marketing to Increase Conversions

In the end, omnichannel marketing is about sealing conversions. When savvy consumers find that your company understands their browsing and buying habits, they will reward your efforts with their business. If, on the other hand, your application does not work on certain devices, or fails to keep up with consumer behavior, they will bypass you in lieu of a B2B that prioritizes these needs. Consumers don’t just expect the omnichannel – they demand it. Failure to meet their needs marks you as insensitive, outdated, and behind the times.

Stay ahead of the competition by mastering your omnichannel. You cannot ignore this marketing tactic in 2017. There is too much at stake in the competitive business place to delay taking the first step. Consumers are already ahead of marketers when it comes to the omnichannel – don’t be the last brand to join the conversation. Be the marketer who delivers on the promise of a highly personalized, flawlessly integrated omnichannel before others in your field. This is the only way to optimize your brand in the coming years of multichannel browsing.

If you need help tackling the omnichannel, consider hiring a professional. A professional marketer will understand the omnichannel and help your small business take advantage of its full potential. While so many marketers are still in the dark about what omnichannel marketing is and how to use it, you can be the brand that offers this sought-after service to your customers. Working with a professional can make the process simpler, and place you in a better position to see your ROI. When it comes to something as complex and important as omnichannel marketing, don’t be afraid to ask for help. Sometimes, hiring a pro is the best thing you can do for your B2B.

The Takeaway

The omnichannel isn’t going anywhere. In fact, it is swiftly becoming the preferred way to market for all B2Bs and B2Cs. To optimize your omnichannel efforts, keep three things in mind: customers want personal interactions, the traditional sales funnel doesn’t apply, and data is your friend. These three mainstays will serve you well during your efforts toward the omnichannel. They are the only way to begin and maintain a successful omnichannel approach in the B2B market.

Your brand must meet customers on their chosen channels – be it social media, text messaging, websites, email, or voice calls. Across every channel, at all times, you need to answer their needs with relevant content. This is possible with advanced data analytics, automation, and an occasional helping hand from marketing professionals. The omnichannel is the wave of the future. Leverage it to boost conversions and stay ahead of the competition sooner rather than later. 

7 Metrics to Measure during Website Performance Checkups


 

Website redesign is a tough but necessary part of growing as a business and adapting to modern UX expectations. Good website managers perform routine site checkups to measure a website’s performance. Certain metrics point to a need to make major or minor changes, such as low server traffic, high bounce rates, and low conversion rates. It’s vital to have a firm understanding of which metrics matter most to your website during performance checkups.

7 Metrics to Measure during Website Performance Checkups

Some hiccups can be easily fixed, while others may indicate that it’s time for an overhaul. We’ve compiled a list of some of the key performance indicators to evaluate your website’s performance. Every company will have unique considerations, so be sure to develop a checkup schedule tailored to your specific business strategy and goals.

Overall Search Engine Traffic

While high traffic alone is not by itself a solid indicator that your website is performing well, it’s still vital to accurately measure your overall website traffic. Most business to business purchase interactions start with a web search and modern consumers readily turn to search engines to research products and brands before purchasing. It’s vital to capture as many organic searches as possible.

Google and other search engines are constantly updating their algorithms to create a more level playing field for marketers, so if you notice a sudden drop in your overall site traffic, or this year’s traffic doesn’t seem to reflect last year’s, your site may be outdated. In some cases, proper optimization may only take a few tweaks. However, this isn’t always the case. A significant loss of traffic may indicate that it’s time to try a new approach to your website’s design.

Bounce Rates

Mobile devices account for most Google searches, so if your website isn’t optimized for mobile, you’re going to take a hit with your search result rankings. Over the past several years, “mobile-first” has been a mantra for website developers. If your last website redesign was before the mobile explosion, you more than likely need to update.

A bounce occurs when a user clicks on your site, then quickly clicks back and away from it. The modern consumer has a very short attention span, is very ad-conscious, and has little patience for slow-loading websites. If your site doesn’t load promptly and reliably, they will quickly leave and search for an alternative. Most mobile consumers are searching for brands, goods, and services on the go, many times while in the store considering a purchase! It’s imperative to get their attention quickly and keep them interested so they stick around your site.

Mobile Performance

High bounce rates aren’t the only penalty for poor mobile optimization. If your site isn’t optimized for mobile, then it probably hasn’t been updated or redesigned in quite some time. Google prioritizes websites with a consistent update history and a healthy history of links and backlinks. If your outdated webpages are full of dead or undesirable links, you’re paying a penalty in your search rankings. Missing out on the sheer number of mobile searches is a tremendous loss.

Conversion Rates

Your conversion rate is the number of successfully completed actions compared to your overall traffic. For example, if 10% of your landing page’s visitors sign up for the mailing list on the page, then that page has a 10% conversion rate. If you notice your conversion rates slipping, it may be time for a change. Search engines can change their algorithms and cause some aspects of your page to hurt your search result rankings over time.

Ultimately, the goal of your website is to convert leads into sales for your company. If any of your webpages are underperforming or start declining in their apparent ability to convert, it may be time to reassess those pages. Measure how long visitors spend on those pages, whether or not they’re following through on the pages’ desired actions, and adjust accordingly. In some cases, you may need to redesign entire pages.

Completion Times

Since each page of your website should serve a purpose or encourage visitors to perform a desired action, you need to measure how long it takes the average visitor to complete these actions. For example, you could post a blog that has a call-to-action at the end, leading the user to click a link and learn more about the subject matter or a particular facet of it. If your visitors are only rarely clicking the link, it may point to a problem with the blog’s content or its failure to draw interest. If people don’t spend more than a few seconds on your written content, this could signal the same lack of interest.

If it takes longer than expected for visitors to enter an email address, finish checking out with a transaction, or performing any other desired action, this could be an indication of poor webpage performance. If pages take too long to load or update, it may be turning some potential leads away. While dedicated customers may simply wait for actions to finish, new leads typically won’t be as patient. Longer completion times usually indicate user uncertainty or poor page performance, both of which are considerable issues for marketers.

Maintenance Costs

If you find your website’s maintenance taking up a much larger portion of your operating budget than expected, of if your website support costs continue to increase, you may only be applying temporary fixes to serious website issues. Assess how much you’ve spent on IT and web development costs over the last few years. An upward trend should be considered a problem.

Your website is crucial to your business. If your company doesn’t exist online, it really doesn’t exist at all. It’s vital to ensure your website is offering an acceptable return on your investment. If you’re devoting tremendous resources to developing high quality content and value to customers, your website needs to faithfully convey these things to visitors and capture their interest. Maintenance costs lower the return on the investment you make through your website, and a redesign can be a fantastic method for improving your website’s performance.

Visitor Feedback

One of the best metrics you can use to evaluate your website’s performance is to ask your visitors about their experiences. Consider deploying survey tools to ask visitors a few questions about their time on your site, such as whether or not they found what they wanted, whether or not they intended to make a purchase and if so, how easy the checkout process was. Surveys are a good way to evaluate the UX your site’s visitors are having, and most visitors won’t mind taking a few seconds to offer feedback.

If you deploy surveys but receive minimal engagement, consider incentivizing survey participation with a promotional offer or discount coupon. You may even want to send surveys to recent buyers’ email addresses to ask about their visits. Another method that helps promote survey engagement is promoting your survey to a targeted group of users. If you send a follow up e-mail thanking a customer for a purchase for example, include survey links that are tied to information about upcoming products or discounts. Users who have already purchased your products and are satisfied with their experience are more likely to be invested in improving your business. Honest customer feedback can help you identify users’ pain points when engaging with your site. Too many customer frustrations mean it’s time for an overhaul.

Ultimately, considering a website redesign can be daunting, but if these metrics and your other key performance indicators show decline or less growth than you expect, it’s time to make a change. 

Three Reasons to Jump aboard the Mixed Reality Web Design Trend


 

Virtual reality has long been seen as a futuristic tool reserved for science fiction. In recent years, this has changed, with adoption of VR technology hitting the mainstream. A Nielsen report predicts big things for virtual reality technology in 2017. Its survey of 8,000 consumers found that 25 percent of all respondents planned to use or purchase a VR headset within the next year. An additional 20 percent reported newfound interest in VR technology after learning more about it. The report concluded that VR still has “more fans than experts.” From a web design and marketing perspective, fanfare is all you need.

One of the biggest innovations in VR technology, from an SEO and marketing perspective, is last year’s Google release embedding 360 VR media in webpages for desktop and mobile use. Web designers can incorporate 360-degree videos and images into their webpages, speaking to the continued importance of VR and AR in the future. It’s imperative for designers to get in on the ground floor of this trend. Here’s why.

It Will Inform SEO Best Practices

If you need more convincing that VR and AR are reaching their long-awaited adoption, consider this: Google shipped 5 million Google Cardboard headsets, and tech companies are expected to sell an additional 12 million this year. This is uncharted territory for SEO marketers, especially when you consider that user-generated 360-degree videos are showing up in Google’s organic search results.

Public interest in VR technology reached an all-time high in 2016, and global searches for VR increased 300 percent the same year. There is a growing body of evidence that suggests 360 VR content increases viewer engagement, subscriptions, shares, and on-page time – an SEO goldmine. Search engines interpret these signals as the presence of quality content, which is one of the biggest drivers in ranking results.

AR Will “Augment” VR Success

In marketing we often refer to a “hype cycle” in which users realize what they’re getting isn’t what they expected. Those who expected Tron-level immersion into the virtual world will likely be disappointed by actual virtual reality, but experts believe the VR hype cycle will be more a gentle dip than a crashing halt. Mobile-based VR platforms, such as Google VR View, will offer a wider use of applications that will stabilize VR for the long term.

Augmented reality will stabilize and augment its cousin, VR. You may not have heard of it, but you’ve likely experienced it, either directly or indirectly. AR overlays images of the real world with additional images or information. If you were a part of or affected by the massive popularity of Pokémon Go last summer, you’ve already experienced augmented reality.

AR has enjoyed success in its gaming platforms, but it also offers increased functionality. Augmented reality has the potential to deliver all kinds of useful, even lifesaving information. Consider, for example, a bike helmet that provides a 360-degree view of your environment, allowing you to see traffic and potential hazards. There are also more practical applications – for example, a painting company that sponsors an application allowing you to see how its shades look on your walls – no paintbrush or samples necessary.

It Creates Novelty and Excitement

As we’ve mentioned, VR and AR are relatively new technologies (for the mainstream), so there is a sense of novelty. Adding VR and AR to your website will make your business seem “on the pulse” and might bring more users to your site. Google VR View offers an opportunity to be cutting edge without coming off as gimmicky, as your company can provide something with true value to your user. The best campaigns are fun and useful, and VR effectively captures that.

Ikea is an example of a company that is already leveraging VR to create a novelty for users that serves a purpose. Its augmented reality app allows a user to see what a piece of furniture will look like in his or her space – no trip to the massive warehouse required.

How to Optimize VR Content for Search Engines

VR content is uncharted territory for web designers, so a brief discussion of optimization is helpful. This practice will continue to evolve, but these tips will focus on Google VR View. When optimizing VR View pages for search, know that search engines don’t automatically index video files into search results. Instead, they index the URLs of the pages where your VR video content is accessible to your users. To find and index VR View content, search engines crawl to the parent URL, find the content (iframe), associate them, and put the parent URL in search results.

SEO for VR View is relatively easy and similar to standard video and image optimization. However, there are a few notable differences:

  • Each page requires a unique descriptive HTML element, meta description, and heading tag. Make these VR-related terms that accurately describe the place and subject. For example, “VR Video Ford Field Detroit MI” is better than “Ford Field Detroit Video."
  • Include a caption, of five to eight words, in the magic window for each piece of VR content. This should accurately describe the place and subject matter of your media, along with a VR-related keyword. For example, “360 VR Video: Great Barrier Reef, Australia.”
  • Once you’ve embedded a 360 VR file in a mobile page that loads quickly, optimize the URL for search. Each page, iframe URL, and VR video/image URL must be optimized for search. Include descriptive keywords for each unique page in file names, since these are important clues to search engines. Add a combination of geographic and VR-related keywords to each unique URL and file name. For example, nyc-vr-image.jpg is preferable to first.jpg. Customize them as much as possible for SEO purposes
  • They say an image is worth a thousand words, so treat it as such. Add unique content under the caption of each piece of VR content on the page. A paragraph or two describing the cities, states, countries, landmarks, natural bodies, seasons, climates, dates, or times of the content is a good start. Don’t forget to add VR-specific keywords such as “VR video,” “virtual reality image,” “immersive video,” or “360 image.” The key here is delicate balance – you don’t want to be punished for keyword jamming or creating duplicate text (i.e., from Wikipedia).
  • The magic window in VR View uses an iframe, which can be problematic for search engines. Put a rel=canonical tag in the parent URL, which will help ensure that engines index the page with the embedded video, not just the parent URL.

Putting It All Together

Virtual and augmented realities are entering their mainstream heyday. Web designers should leverage this popularity and begin embedding 360 videos and images on their webpages. As the technology becomes more cost-effective, consumers will begin to demand more VR content on their devices. While the internet will never disappear, the way in which we consume it is poised for revolution. In the coming decades, the classic mode of scanning a page in a top-down fashion may cease to exist. We will consume media in immersive and personalized experiences, both on our screens and in the world.

If your customer base likes progressive technology, it’s your responsibility to deliver. Implementing AR and VR into your website is a decisive way to differentiate your brand. Allow your creativity to shine and consider incorporating this technology into your page.

The Brilliance of the Deadpool Marketing


 

Prior to 20th Century Fox’s mass social media marketing campaign, the average cinema fan probably had never heard of Deadpool, the foulmouthed antihero who made an appearance in several Marvel Comics. A record-breaking $132 million box office opening, however, proves that more people eagerly awaited the “mercenary with a mouth’s” big screen debut than most people thought. While you may know a few die-hard Deadpool fans, the movie’s wild success is likely attributable to its viral marketing campaign.

Deadpool: The Campaign You Couldn’t Miss

The brilliant, unique, and quirky advertising tactics Deadpool’s marketing team came up with matched perfectly the main subject of the movie – Wade Wilson, an antihero who is mentally unstable and physically disfigured. The “Regenerating Degenerate” talks to himself, curses profusely, and has the special power of accelerated healing. He’s also an accomplished mercenary with physical prowess to match other, better-known superheroes.

20th Century Fox’s marketers had the creative freedom to take the Deadpool campaign and run with it. They showed audiences what happens when untapped advertising potential and wickedly creative minds come together. Fox introduced the nation to Deadpool with a nonstop, all-out blitz of advertisements and marketing campaigns – but instead of feeling forced and intrusive, ads were remarkably fresh and entertaining. The secret lies in the movie’s genius marketing team members, who understood the subject matter they were promoting 100%; they won by playing off of the character’s no-holds-barred personality.

Just like Deadpool himself, Fox’s advertisements ranged from weird to wild – but all of them hit the mark with audiences. Deadpool is famous for his tendency to break the fourth wall, talking directly to the audience. Fox took advantage of this character trait and wrote nearly all of the commercials from the viewpoint of Deadpool himself, breaking the fourth wall to talk to fans about 20th Century Fox and the upcoming movie.

Ryan Reynolds promoted the movie tirelessly on his own Twitter account, using genuine excitement about the film to boost audience interest. He appeared in commercials that mocked Fox and bashed the movie itself and agreed to show up for special events in the suit for seven-and eight-hour days. Paired with the brilliant marketing team, Reynolds helped transform Deadpool from “just another superhero movie” to one of the most anticipated R-rated films of the year.

What Fox Did Right

Deadpool’s campaigning included a long list of varied tactics, but the most noticeable is the fact that Fox made fun of itself through its marketing. Deadpool makes fun of Fox’s 2009 mistake, where they introduced Deadpool in X-Men Origins: Wolverine to the chagrin of thousands of die-hard Deadpool fans. They completely missed the mark, inexplicably sewing the character’s mouth shut and creating a character far removed from the comic book version. In the 2016 advertisements, Deadpool talks about these mistakes and bashes Fox – a risky move for any company.

It’s not in most companies’ natures to allow their marketing teams to criticize them publicly, but for Fox, this tactic was an inarguable smash hit. Fans responded to the advertisements positively, and praised Fox for nailing Deadpool’s character and personality. Fox listened to fans’ concerns that they wouldn’t portray the character properly and answered with an aggressive – but effective – marketing campaign.

A major factor in Fox’s favor was its social media marketing for Deadpool. The movie’s social media presence was arguably the greatest driving force behind the film’s smashing opening weekend success. Deadpool’s Instagram account cultivated thousands of followers, accumulating hundreds of comments and shares. From posing on a bearskin rug to sharing candid bathroom photos, the Instagram account gave fans a taste of what to expect from the movie. Fans showed their appreciation for the accurate portrayal of Deadpool’s character by showing up on opening weekend.

Deadpool took it a step forward with fake clickbait pranks that led users to a movie promotion and even took to social media sites such as Tinder to promote the movie. Since Deadpool is famous for being “morally flexible,” these tactics worked wonders on audiences who knew the character and intrigued those who hadn’t heard of him.

Risks That Worked

The main appeal of Deadpool’s marketing was the fact that Fox took risks. It pushed the limits as to what it could get away with, attracting audiences who hadn’t heard of Deadpool without a qualm. Instead of targeting the largest audience possible, Deadpool marketers saw the value of creating content optimized for Deadpool fans. Only fans of the comics could fully understand and appreciate a lot of the advertising, but this worked to Fox’s advantage. It reached its ideal audience through niche marketing and enjoyed the returns a targeted audience gives.

One example of an advertisement only true fans would understand is the billboard: a skull emoji, a poop emoji, and the letter “L.” This super-meta marketing represents the film’s title (“Dead” “Poo” “L”), but many people didn’t understand the ad. Luckily, that’s what made it great. Deadpool fans felt proud that they could decipher the code and shared the billboard across social media sites.

Another billboard advertised Deadpool as a romance movie, set to hit theaters right before Valentine’s Day. Fans went wild over this hilarious advertisement, and it generated a large volume of responses. While the marketing campaign relied heavily on film to get its message across, its multichannel advertising hit audiences from all angles – creating a barrage of Deadpool ads that fans couldn’t get enough of.

What You Can Learn from Deadpool’s Marketing

Image: Linkedin

While the risky and risqué marketing tactics of Deadpool worked smashingly for 20th Century Fox, the main takeaway here isn’t to shock your audience. It’s to listen to them and respond accordingly. Initially, Deadpool debuted in X-Men in 2009. Fans bashed Fox for its poor representation, and Fox listened. When footage leaked of the new and improved Deadpool, fans went wild and demanded more. Once, again Fox listened and delivered, signing on Ryan Reynolds for the Deadpool film.

Fans of the character were nervous that Fox would butcher it or try to make Deadpool fit the mold of other PG-13 rated Marvel Comic blockbusters. Fox threw all worries about being able to market to its typical, Disney/Marvel channels and listened to fans. It announced that the movie would have an R rating to the immense delight of fans everywhere. Instead of focusing on the bottom line or a tried-and-true content marketing technique, Fox prioritized its audience and obeyed consumer demands.

Ryan Reynolds himself campaigned for the movie for several years, and his enthusiasm when Fox announced its release was contagious. His perpetual promotion of the film made it spread to a wider audience and convinced fans who were still on the fence that his version of Deadpool was true to the comic. He responded to fans’ tweets and questions and kept the hype about Deadpool rolling. Through his all-in participation, Fox was able to get creative with its campaign and trust that the star of the show would be on board.

What businesses can learn from the Deadpool marketing campaign is to remember that the number one thing consumers want is to be heard. If you don’t listen to your customers’ needs and desires, your products, services, and campaigns will miss the mark. Content optimization and search engine optimization marketing will only take you so far. There comes a time when you may need to break the mold and adhere to what’s best for your customers.

Deadpool marketers chose their audience over pre-established expectations of what a movie advertisement campaign should look like. Between Reynolds’ championing of the film and Fox’s insanely brilliant marketing techniques, Deadpool rose from a little-known comic book hero movie to a multimillion-dollar box office success.

Is Web Design a Dying Trade or Can It Still Be a Viable Career Option?


 

There’s no doubt that web design is a fundamental marketing component. However, it’s an industry, like many other technological fields, that’s perpetually dying. Innovation drives new direction into the field at a breakneck pace. Old trends get lost in the dust. 

Professionals who want to remain relevant in the future of web design must reinvent themselves over and over again. As a web designer, you can’t use the same concepts, designs, and guidelines from 6 months to a year ago. Doing so might work for a few small-time, hobby designers, but it isn’t a career strategy. The rapid rate of change is one of the many variables to think about before pursuing a career in web design.

So how do you make web design a viable and rewarding career strategy?

Image: bu.edu

People interested in web design have a world of opportunity at their feet if they approach the industry in the right manner. Fundamentally, you need:

  • A basic education
  • An understanding of key concepts
  • The willingness to make ongoing education a regular part of your work
  • Creativity

Anyone with drive and a little creative aptitude can successfully rebuild and reinvent their skills to match the current landscape of design. To be a great web designer, you will also need:

  • Business relationship skills
  • A deep understanding of target markets
  • An understanding of marketing and branding key concepts 
  • A commitment to learning and exploring new technologies and platforms

In the same way that interior designers, tax professionals, and restauranteurs must refocus their businesses based on the environment, so must a web designer constantly understand and explore the world of online interactions.

What Kind of Education Does a Web Designer Need Today?

Amazing web designers come from a variety of backgrounds. Unlike graduating from a prestigious law school, successful web designers may have several certifications and degrees or they may be self-taught. As a highly artistic field, web designers have a unique opportunity to display their talents to potential employers in the form of a portfolio. The overall visual detail and the attention to current design standards is often what companies look for. Some designers have it and some don’t, and education may not be a factor in some cases.

However, if you want to get started in web design and you don’t have a portfolio, you may want to consider a post-secondary education program. Industry professionals hone their crafts through universities, technical schools, and open online courses. As a designer, you’ll need to choose the program best suited to help you thoroughly grasp the concepts of coding and an understanding of regularly used programming languages.  

Choosing Your Niche

During the course of a web design career, most designers pursue a broad category of design work based on the environment in which they feel most comfortable. Designers work for:

Individual Companies

As a company employee, a web designer might work on innovative website development concepts, but the day-to-day job may include more work fine-tuning landing pages, creating design-based social media content, developing email and invite templates, and conducting various maintenance tasks.

Web designers who work for individual companies have an opportunity to immerse themselves in a branding concept and to focus on one company’s goals. However, they may find themselves tasked with non-design related work as much as they work on traditional design concepts. Similarly, the work environment will likely feel more like a large-corporation and less like a small-office. Most small and mid-sized companies can’t accommodate a web designer in their annual budgets. Instead, they reach out to marketing and design agencies.

Agencies and Design Firms

Agency-based web designers have a unique opportunity to put their hands in many different pots. These designers may work on many diverse company and organizational designs at once, bringing together innovative design features with branding to create something unique.

With the opportunity to work regularly with different companies, agency designers have a natural opportunity to explore different creative concepts and the latest trends. They can move between traditional, modern, and funky designs as needed and bring their own unique artistic brand to the project. 

However, these designers may become overwhelmed with the number of different clients they interact with on a regular basis. In some cases, they may work extensively with a company or organization, but they may also find themselves responsible for a variety of one-off projects.

Freelance

The last broad category of web designer is the freelance artist. Freelancers can work for one company at a time or in more of an agency setup. They may even have design firms as clients. Freelance design work offers the most flexibility. These designers have the ability to accept and deny projects at will and to pursue projects that build their own personal brand.

Freelance design work is what an individual makes of it. Those who are forward looking, client-relationship focused, and business savvy may really enjoy freelance work. However, anyone who isn’t internally motivated may find the rigors of self-employment too much to handle.

Perpetually Dying, But Never Dead

Web design is never going to go away. Trends will die out, but fundamental skills will remain in high demand. Companies, organizations, and individuals will always need some level of experienced design help for websites, blogs, and other platforms that have not been created yet. Understanding what you want out of a design career may be the best way to find the type of work that will really highlight your skills. Some designers work as freelancers, agency designers, and corporate artists throughout their careers.

Interested in a career in design? Reach out to Spinx Digital to learn more about our approach to the digital arts.

12 Web Design Shortcuts to Try Out This Month


 

Sometimes completing a task in a new way spurs innovation. Whether you’ve got a laundry list of hacks you routinely use or you typically work by the book, try something fresh this month! When you work in any creative industry, being creative is your job. However, the need to be creative all day every day can take a heavy toll on your inspiration. If your designs have started to look like a signature template or you’re overwhelmed with orders, these shortcuts, tips, and tricks can help.

Go Backwards 

As a designer, you probably start with a sketch mock-up of the website first, right? Staring at that blank page while you wait for ideas to start popping up can seem intimidating. Sometimes you might even encounter the dreaded "designers’ block." In situations like this, working backwards can be helpful. Start with the endgame first. Build the design based on where the customer will end his or her journey. For example, is the goal the customer viewing the gallery or adding a product to his or her shopping cart? This will shape the navigability of the website and what elements of design should take priority. 

The Post-it Trick 

It's not uncommon to become overwhelmed with ideas. You're a designer; it's your job to be creative! Narrowing down those ideas is how you end up with a comprehensive and workable design, but that's easier said than done. Imagine fitting your design ideas onto a single Post-it note. This exercise will help you determine the most important aspects of your work. This is because the size of the Post-it note accurately represents the attention span of today's average web users. Remember, less is more.

Make Global Changes Easy 

Using the asterisk as your CSS selector lets you quickly apply changes to everything on the website. This can be extremely helpful in the beginning stages of design when you're trying out different looks, fonts, or other elements. It's also a fantastic way to make site-wide changes if you've found a recent problem while doing a website health check. Just make sure to remove it before the code goes live. 

See Changes Without Reloading 

Isn't it a pain to make website changes only to reload the browser to see how they look? Well, now you don't have to. CodeKit is a remarkable new tool that lets you see browser changes right away without having to reload the page. It's especially helpful for Mac users, since reloading a browser can really cut into design time. CodeKit is a fine way to make sure you've complied with web design best practices without having to wait around for the page to load. 

Resize Videos With One Click 

HTML5 is a simple way to edit and embed videos, but you can still encounter issues with responsive sizing and areas where HTML5 isn't supported. FitVids is a jQuery plugin that allows videos to resize themselves seamlessly without losing quality or fluidity. 

Create Palettes Like a Master Colorist 

Just because you're a web designer doesn't mean you're a master of color schemes. Color is important to a website, but color theory is so nuanced that designing a color palette can sometimes eat up a lot of time. Luckily, there are plenty of apps available that take the guesswork out of combining colors. Apps like Adobe Kuler and Paletton let you choose a color from the color wheel. They will then display secondary and tertiary choices. You can see palettes for monochromatic or multicolor schemes.

Image: Paletton

Export Images Without Losing Quality

Web design and Photoshop go hand in hand, but occasionally, exporting an image from Photoshop to PNG can be a real pain. One classic trick is to export as an 8-bit PNG image. This reduces file size without compromising image quality. 

However, this doesn't allow you to export transparent images. If you need the image to be transparent, use the plugin tool PNGQuant. It converts 24-bit and 32-bit images into a tiny 8-bit file but still lets you keep the transparency. 

Design Beautiful Fonts Easily

Typography-based sites are still on-trend and are undeniably beautiful. However, no matter how simple they look, they can sometimes be a challenge to design. From building fonts to comparing font palettes and adjusting line lengths, font design can become pretty time-consuming. 

Typecast, a relatively new design tool, allows you to design typography-based websites easily. What's more, it integrates with Google fonts. You select a font from Google fonts and click the link to visit the Typecast site. There you can make adjustments to the font, like weight, size, spacing, and line length. 

Image: Typecast

Avoid Overdesigning

Overdesign is the bane of the web design community, and it happens more often than you’d expect. It's easy to get carried away, adding too many elements, colors, or features to a website. In a time when minimalism is cherished, overdesign is an instant turn-off for viewers. How do you ensure you never cross the overdesign line? 

Start with shades of gray. While using Photoshop, you can display your wireframe in grayscale. Once you've added photography and other elements, slowly add color, bit by bit. Start with the most important elements on the page. That way, you accent the important aspects without the risk of going overboard. 

Make Rapid Prototyping a Breeze 

Rapid prototyping is essential for getting your client on board and excited about your project. Did you know you don't need to use Photoshop to create rapid prototypes? Keynote is a rapid prototyping tool that works across an array of devices. It also has an active community of users who regularly contribute templates for all aspects of prototyping, from wire framing to testing apps. 

Web Design

Image: Keynotopia

Use Pinterest to Remember Your Favorite Elements 

Pinterest isn't just for recipes and DIY inspiration.  A lot of designers actually use Pinterest to create mood boards for future or current projects. It's like making a collage of your favorite designs and saving them for later, except they're much easier to retrieve. 

The Pinterest mood board lets you save images, colors, patterns, samples, templates, layouts, fonts, and anything else that catches your eye. Next time you're stuck in a design rut, check your mood board for some fresh ideas. 

Find Out What Pops on Your Site 

You're nearing the end of your mockup process and you want to make sure the important parts really stand out. Here's a quick way to figure out the most prominent features of your design: take a few steps back from your computer and squint. This will make almost everything on the page blurry, and only the boldest, most attention-grabbing features will be noticeable. The average internet user has a very short attention span. When a visitor first lands on your website, he or she will quickly scan the page. This trick helps you see the website through your visitors' eyes and what elements are most likely to capture their attention.

Shortcuts and tricks like these take the mundane aspects out of design and let you focus on the fun parts. Design shouldn't be about tedious tasks and boring chores—it should be about creativity and fun. As you gain more experience, you're likely to find even more shortcuts that work for you and make your professional life a lot easier. Now get out there and start building some beautiful sites.

Exciting and Unique Ways to Spice up Content Ideas for Boring Topics


 

Getting ideas before setting about the task of writing a blog can be tough, especially when the topics are dull due to a boring business or industry that a blog writer is called upon to write for. Then the creative juices dry up and the writer is left fumbling for ideas to start writing the content. But the job has to be done and the means to get out of this ‘writers’ block’ has to be found. In this article I’ll examine some ways by which you can discover ideas for writing good content consistently even when the topics are uninteresting.

  • Facebook: Facebook has loads and loads of various groups who cover all conceivable businesses/industries along with many guest bloggers who will provide you great ideas for content writing.
  • LinkedIn: LinkedIn has precise groups of which you can become a member. The social media platform allows you to post queries to other members. A LinkedIn discussion is a great way to find fresh topics.
  • Twitter: Twitter Search is to search tweets via hash tags and keywords. To get targeted keyword results, add hashtag and remove spaces. Twitter Trending Topics is another great way to produce engaging content.
  • YouTube: YouTube can be used for a lot of things, not just listening to music, or watching videos/movies. On this platform, which is the world’s second biggest search engine, you will also find 800 million+ visitors and plenty of varied videos/tutorials from across industries which will be of immense help to you.
  • StumbleUpon: StumbleUpon tags will help you discover unique as well as popular topics. This is a huge collection of the finest Internet pages which suggest the websites/videos/photos that will interest you. Look under the Discover tab in Stumblers to follow topics of specific interest.
  • Ask audience: You are selling services or products to a targeted audience, right? Then why not ask them what they will like to read in your blog? Chances are your audience will give you the best ideas about what to write.
  • Look and you’ll find many keyword tools: There are many keyword research tools available in the market; use them to get many keyword ideas and to target your keywords according to locations. You’ll get many keywords that will give you new ideas for content and which will be an inspiration to you.
  • Get inspiration: Observe everything around you. Since you are a writer, you need to get inspiration to write some real good stuff. And you can get inspired by almost everything: nature, everyday events, television shows and so on. The list is endless.
  • Interview the business gurus: People at the helm of business and industry are the most authoritative people around as far as your blogs are concerned. So you can interview them and quote them to give your bogs that touch of validity that will get you many eyeballs and larger audiences.
  • Search for answers: Go to question & answer sites to learn what people are looking for in your line of business/industry. Since these sites are public forums, the queries the public post there are serious; so answer them and get ideas in return.
  • Lift from actual news: News events are great happenings to get ideas from. And since they are authentic, you can give them a spin in your blog that will engage your readers. Create a story around an actual event that you see on TV or read on the net or newspaper and then let your creativity flow.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Flat design


 

Flat design is the ‘in’ thing today. Discussions about its soundness are raging in the web design world and everyone in this vast field has something to say about it. Even design that’s not entirely flat is falling into this category. Therefore, as so much hype is surrounding flat design style, it’s imperative that we take a look at both its advantages and disadvantages.

Design style: Mobile applications that are simple stand to gain most from flat design. They can have the most striking flat interfaces/designs. There is no need to zoom to discover links as you have to just tap huge buttons. However, the flip side is that flat design may not be the best thing for complex web designs. Unfamiliarity with the interface style means users may not always know where to tap/click.

Trendiness: It’s trendy. It’s fun and it gets a lot of admiration. So what are designers waiting for? The outpouring of admiration from blogs and all-round recognition are motivation enough for the majority of them to get trendy with their designs. But wait a minute! Trends are, after all, fashions, and fashions come and go – they don’t last forever. Already flat designs was evolving from fully flat to ‘almost flat.’ The disadvantage of this style is that, like all trends, it may suddenly disappear.

Bright is beautiful: Sunlight, bright colors, almost everything bright signifies a feeling of happiness, and it’s the same with flat design. Lots of warm colors are used in a flat design website and they radiate a positive feeling. But many colors mean designers have to cope with the dilemma of matching them properly. And when the number of colors used goes up, the matter gets problematic. Color choice being a subjective issue, there is no real hard and fast rule for matching colors which may lead to difference of opinions among stakeholders.

Well-defined, clean: The beauty of flat design is that it’s clear-cut and clean. The sharpness and varied features result in a design that’s simple and clean. But many experts feel that its very simplicity may be a disadvantage. If it’s too simple it may be unable to put across a complex visual communication. Then, visual hierarchy becomes a matter of concern.

Terrific typography: Without the hassle of embellishments, proponents of flat design have great space to lay out great typography. They can use great type to make the text stand out and even become a decoration in itself. On the other hand, when it comes to typography you just cannot be content with half measures. Only the best will work and so you have to know exactly what the best font to select and what pairing will give you the finest result.

Uninspiring: Was the designer uninspired when he undertook that flat design work? Sometimes it may appear that this was so, that the designer was bored with the job. Flat design means ‘simplicity’ as well as ‘honesty’ so designers may sometimes have to hold themselves back to ensure that their creativity doesn’t go out of the boundaries of flat design. In flat design you have to restrain yourself. You have to suppress new ideas and fresh concepts to keep it really flat.

Summing Up

In summing up I can say that good design is all about usability and functionality. No one design can fit all web sites. Each one must be distinct in itself – like a good suit that’s cut and tailored for the man who’ll wear it. Flat design is in fashion. So right now it’s best to keep up with the trend.

Learn Why Your Company Needs a Well Written Blog


 

Customers probably seek out for well-known companies like Apple. But, for companies depending on search to create traffic in addition to leads/sales, new, rich, relevant content is significantly crucial in the algorithms of search engines. Without content, a social media advertising technique is difficult to keep alive till the end, simply because only deals & contests can support social systems before the appeal gets jaded. Therefore, I'd say that the change to content advertising is certain for many companies and online branding has little to do with that transition. The actual truth is content advertising determines branding equally offline as well as online. Let's see what's the worth of personalization of social media today. Here we can go through the significance of blogging in the social media marketing advertising strategy.

Blogging

Blogging is surely a major option! But, we also see some issues with just how consumers are blogging specifically applying microblogs in the form of social media sites or major blog sites as their stage for content advertising efforts. And that is clearly an issue since blogging websites allow it to be tougher to position effectively in natural search. More so microblogging does not give you richer content essential to operate traffic to your site and in turn sell to them. It shouldn't be your central advertising strategy.

Blog advantages

Blogging may be the corner stone of one's social media marketing strategy. Companies generate more prospective leads once they integrate a blog. Blogging raises your client trust. Blogging is the most effective reason customers follow your company and promote your messages. Significantly more than half of visitors see your organization more positively while examining your content. 70% of customers get the consciousness of your company during this content advertising strategy.

Social media

While some people make use of a blog to generate income or counteract different charges, a lot of the bloggers I am aware of make use of a blog within their content advertising strategy to guide their business. Huge websites, like Mashable and TechCrunch, will make an income offering advertising room or performing affiliate advertising, but the majority of us make use of a blog to entice guests to the websites, construct relying associations with clients and prospects, and advise customers about different products. It is a primary component of our inbound advertising strategy. A blog may be the simple greatest component of any business. You'll need perhaps not need to go for cold calling or delivering arbitrary e-mails to prospects in the hopes of developing your business. Be a specialist in social media advertising to have a solid grip in analytics & marketing concepts for creating customers. And guess what? It certainly works.

Blogging enables you to get discovered

Without new, important, accessible content on your own site, it's significantly tougher to gain a position in a normal search. The Google algorithm contains parameters almost impossible to deal with without any content advertising strategy.

Content advertising

What exactly is your blog all about? It is important that your blog points to your audience the important things that covers issues for them. Which means keeping along with traits of Twitter and Facebook and submitting content that is fascinating, well-written, non-promotional, and covers client problems. You cannot put up any rubbish, unless it immediately pertains to your brand.

How to Enhance The Look and Feel of Your Website Without Any Redesigning


 

Do you think that your website development venture is not fulfilling your business goals? Do you think that your website is not providing enough sales leads from the past few months? Have you noticed any great downfall in web traffic to your website? Well, most of you might be knowing what I am going to suggest you, right? Of course, if your website suffers from all such issues, then website redesign is the only option that can help you overcome from all the issues and enhance your website performance ins search engines as well as help you get enough sales leads for your business.

But, what if you don’t have enough budget or fund to redesign your entire website? In the economic crisis, many small businesses or organizations can’t afford to redesign their entire website as it is quite an expensive task. So, how to enhance the look and feel of your website? Well, you or your website designer can easily give a new look to your website by following some simple tricks mentioned below.

  • Change the color scheme of the website
    It is the best way to start revamping your website by changing its color scheme. You can change the colors of texts, links and other visual elements within your website. If you have used any borders, then you can change the style of the border as well as color in order to give new look ‘n’ feel of your website.
  • Instead of simple background, try to use textures
    The days are gone to use the simple colored background in website design. If your website has a simple colored background, then wake up and get it changed by the website designer. You can use texture instead of simple background. It will give a refreshing look to the entire website.
  • Change the font styles
    Changing the fonts on your website can also do miracles! However, make sure you choose the fonts that are readable and regularly used by the users.
  • Add new images
    A picture worth a thousand words, this is perfectly true in the website design. Adding high definition and relevant images would definitely help you change the entire look of your website. If you already have images, then replace them with the new ones.
  • Change the theme, if you are using any Content Management System
    By making such small changes within your website, you can easily change the look and feel of your website without spending hefty money in the website redesign process.