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14 WordPress Themes You Should Start Using in 2020

Even web designers who prefer to design websites from scratch eventually look for frameworks, past work, or shortcuts. That way they speed up their workflow.

And there are also those times when it’s hard to find the right template. You need help to create a special page and you feel compelled to build it from scratch.

It only makes sense to take full advantage of drag and drop, front-end editing, design modules, customizable demos, and other shortcuts. They will save you time. Also, they produce a quite similar quality and performance to the one you could achieve by building a website from scratch.

Another example of not wanting to start from scratch is when the website you want to build addresses a function or area that you’re not particularly familiar with. It could be a directory website, adding a knowledge base feature to an existing one, or even a performance feature like SEO.

If you can find a theme that promises to do the heavy lifting for you – grab it!

Just so you don’t get burned in the process, make sure the chosen theme is tops in its class – like the 14 presented here.

 

1. ListingPro

Perhaps building directory websites is your thing. But this is a design area in which most web designers aren’t all that familiar. And even if you’re quite good at it, ListingPro might just make your efforts that much more satisfying, and save you time while doing so.

And, if you’ve been relying on plugins to patch a design together, ListingPro is the only all-in-one WordPress directory solution on the market. It lets you get the job done without needing additional plugins, or any coding knowledge for that matter.

This #1 best-seller offers a comprehensive set of directory features and functions including –

  • Advanced Search
  • Ratings and Reviews
  • Front-end Listing Submission
  • Events and Ads Management
  • Pricing Plans including Stripe and PayPal
  • Built in Checkout that does not require WooCommerce
  • Listing Owner Dashboards
  • API support for autofill listing submissions

ListingPro is Elementor and WPBakery supported, and offers total design flexibility. It also provides 3 pre-built directory websites to kickstart a project.

Fantastic Theme and excellent customer service. Recently interacted with the support team member. All issues resolved quickly.Very fast turnaround.

– somymon80

Click here to learn even more about ListingPro.

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2. BeTheme – Responsive Multi-Purpose WordPress Theme

One way to save design time is to have the necessary tools right at your fingertips. Another is a special feature that does much of the heavy lifting for you to get a website design project off the ground.

BeTheme does both; and it usually doesn’t matter what the purpose of your website is.

BeTheme, the biggest WordPress theme of them all is an ideal choice whether you’re planning your first website design project or you’re and advanced web designer.

As for the tools, BeTheme’s 40 core features supply everything you’ll need. They include:

  • Muffin Builder drag and drop page builder
  • Administration Panel for unlimited design options
  • Shortcode Generator and shortcodes
  • Layout Generator – create a page almost from scratch

As for the heavy lifting there’s the library of 500+ pre-built websites covering 30 industry sectors, all website types, and multiple business and personal niches.

These pre-built websites

  • are professionally crafted and attractive
  • are responsive and customizable
  • contain basic UX functionality

i.e., everything needed to get any project off to a lightning fast start

This Theme has great design quality and is very easy to get around. No technical skills needed in web development.

– syllabus

Click here; see if BeTheme is the time-saver you’re looking for.

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3. Kalium

One way to build a website quickly and without unnecessary hassle is to import the content you need. Perhaps starting with a demo. Then, doing the necessary customizing and tweaking to get what you want.

Kalium provides a helpful selection of high-quality pre-made concept demos you can import. Plus you can import theme options, pages, sliders, widgets, or whatever else you need.

In addition to the pre-made concept demos the package includes

  • WPBakery, Revolution Slider, and Layer Slider
  • Product Filter Plugins
  • Shortcodes
  • A large and comprehensive font library
  • A powerful header builder
  • 30+ portfolio types and unique styles
  • Full eCommerce support
  • 16+ languages and RTL support

This top-selling theme offers free lifetime updates and excellent customer support. Plus it is fully responsive and GDPR compliant.

I’ve been using this theme for years now and it has been so flexible and adaptable as my business grows and my style evolves. There are lots of great themes like this that offer easy and quick customization but what I think really sets this one apart is the CUSTOMER SERVICE!!! The support team is beyond amazing – always answers questions promptly and are extremely helpful, saving me hours of time and headaches! Can’t say enough good things about this theme!

– itsmemissyxo

Click here to learn more.

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4. TheGem – Creative Multi-Purpose High-Performance WordPress Theme

When you apply your creative talents to building a website from scratch it still takes time. When you have an assortment of tools to help, it takes less time. If you have the ultimate toolbox at your fingertips, i.e. TheGem, you might surprise yourself how easily your workflow speeds up. With the release of TheGem 4.0 it gets even better. 40,000 customers agree.

Awesome and fast Support! 🙂 Thank You!

– Nhecker

Click here to check out this awesome toolbox.

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5. Total Theme

Plugins can boost you up or drag you down. It often depends on your site’s needs. Total will definitely boost you up and never drag you down. Total does not require a ton of 3rd party plugins to use all of the theme’s features, including:

  • Over 40 premade demos together with a one-click importer
  • More than 500 built-in styling options and 100+ drag and drop WPBakery modules

More than 41,000 happy customers will attest to this.

I work with TOTAL for years now and I’m still impressed by its support and documentation. If you have a theme to choose, TOTAL is the one (and only)! 😉

– spotmedias

Click here to learn more about Total.

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6. Uncode – Creative Multiuse WordPress Theme

60,000+ sales to date make Uncode an Envato top seller. When this creative, pixel-perfect theme was designed, it was done so with an extraordinary amount of attention to detail.

Uncode is ideal for agencies, bloggers, and entrepreneurs. It is also ideal for building magazine and portfolio websites.

The best way to see what this WordPress theme could do for you is to visit the site and browse Uncode’s showcase of user-designed websites. You’ll be impressed.

Best Customer Support experience I have ever had. I had a hard time understanding the mobile and tablet customizations and have been helped out by their customer support team dozens of times. They are always friendly and helpful, and I love my site.

– oximedical

Browse the user-designed websites, and enjoy.

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7. Schema

This fully responsive, ultra-fast theme has all the tools and elements to qualify as a “perfect” theme. Perfect or not, but certainly close to it, Schema has a feature that is lacking in most themes. This feature resolves a problem most web designers have and can save you a ton of time.

It’s the ability to make a website more SEO friendly than you might have thought possible.

Schema even guides the search engines through your site to show it off and get the best ratings.

Schema is one of the fastest themes around, I highly recommend it.

– Rashmi

Click here if SEO has become a constant challenge for you.

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8. KnowAll

One way to make a good website a great one and drive up conversions is to replace a run-of-the-mill FAQ section with a knowledge base. It is a resource which most visitors will find extremely helpful.

With KnowAll, you can implement

  • Live search that provides instant answers and suggests related content
  • Feedback and action analytics that enable continuous improvement of the site

And you don’t have to do it from scratch.

Click here to learn more about this premium knowledge base solution.

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9. Avada

When you invest in the #1 top selling theme of all time you can be pretty sure you’ve made a good decision. Avada’s collection of pre-built websites, demos, partial demos, and a huge array of supporting design elements ensures you have the material you need to build a top-quality website rather quickly.

  • Avada’s Fusion Builder is drag and drop.
  • The Dynamic Content System gives you unparalleled flexibility.
  • This premium theme integrates flawlessly with WooCommerce.

Everything works great with this theme!

– SiliconWaelder

Click here to learn more.

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10. Neve

Neve is a multi-purpose theme that comes with ready-made designs for for startups, agencies, eCommerce shops, blogs and more. Other good reasons to check Neve out:

  • Neve loads crazy-fast and receives top scores on Page Speed Insights and GT Matrix performance tests
  • It is compatible with most popular page builders (Elementor, Brizy, Beaver Builder, Visual Composer, SiteOrigin, Divi), including Gutenberg
  • It comes with +50 ready-made starter sites
  • Neve is AMP optimized, responsive and 100% mobile ready

This theme is just great, totally customizable and perfectly integrated with Gutenberg.

aless81 (@aless81) on WordPress.org

Click here to discover even more about Neve.

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11. Movedo

This premium quality theme by a top-rated author features a clean, modern design, amazing responsive options, great flexibility, and more than a few out-of-this-world automations and parallax effects.

They include mouse move, scrolling move, and column move. Movedo also features a Knowledge Base with a quick search option, plus it is designed for easy browsing.

To sum it up – Movedo rocks!

Great theme, overall astonishing functions and page builder, also the support is tremendous.

– cedzufrei

To see what dynamic parallax can do for your websites simply click here.

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12. XStore | Responsive Multi-Purpose WooCommerce WordPress Theme

If you’re in an eCommerce frame of mind, don’t bother to look further for a solution. Describing XStore’s features can be short and sweet.

First, there is the single product page builder, a powerful header builder, and $300+ worth of premium plugins.

Second, there are 80 good-to-go shops.

Building your own eCommerce store could hardly be easier.

Fast response! Polite! Work hard! Thank you! You should definitely choose! This template is the best of many themes!!!

– KUNOICHIjp

Click here to see all the details.

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13. Pofo – Creative Portfolio, Blog and eCommerce WordPress Theme

If you have building a portfolio website in mind, Pofo is the right choice. This modern and creative design theme is the ideal tool for creating business, agency, and personal portfolio websites.

This is especially true if you wish to incorporate blogging and eCommerce into your sites.

Pofo is fast, flexible, and customizable with 200+ demo pages, 25+ homepages, and 150 pre-built elements to work with.

While everything is great about this theme, from Design Quality to Flexibility. The main reason why I’m using this theme for 5 websites, is the Customer Support. This is absolutely perfect. Within time, friendly, professional. Sending CSS codes. I love working with this Pofo theme.

– studiojas

Click here to learn more.

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14. Hongo – Modern & Multipurpose WooCommerce WordPress Theme

This modern, multi-purpose theme was specially created with WooCommerce stores, blogs, and company websites in mind. Hongo’s package includes WPBakery, Revolution Slider, and an impressive collection of out of the box premium features. The collection includes comparing products, quick view, product videos, and 11 ready store demos.

Hongo also provides users with quality online documentation. Its customer support enjoys high ratings.

Simply the great designs and best theme for WooCommerce, loading fast, customizable and easy to use with the detailed documentation. Their support team is technically sound and very kind to guide wherever needed. We have bought some other themes from ThemeZaa now and they have never let us down, thanks!

– diyaatps

Click here to learn more about this new and modern theme.

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Now that you’ve seen 14 possible ways to make your website building adventures easier, we hope you’ve been able to drill down to one or more that makes perfect sense to you.

We would appreciate it if you would share this article with a friend or with your social media group.

 

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



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How to Keep Designing When Tragedy Strikes

Tragedy strikes from nowhere, and it’s devastating both emotionally, and financially. It might be a motorcycle accident with a long, expensive hospital stay; being fired, or laid off from a long time staff position; a client going out of business owing you money; a messy divorce; a sick child needing intensive medical care; dying parents; or mounting debt that makes you think very bad thoughts.

If it weren’t for bad luck, I’d have no luck at all! We all have personal tragedies. Sometimes those tragedies are more than anyone could handle, and that’s when you encounter some very basic, intense emotions. For some it’s the fiercely stark task of overcoming, shutting out all else; for others, it’s thoughts of helplessness. Unfortunately, most people will run the gamut of these polar emotions.

I’ve been through all this and not only survived, but thrived. The idea when faced with a debilitating horror, is to take stock of what you have, what you need, and think outside the box to solve them as quickly as possible—oddly, focusing on plans to survive keeps your thoughts off the actual disaster.

You’re going to face these things sooner or later, here’s how you too, can overcome your personal disasters…

 

The Immediate Impact of Disaster

If you’re a freelancer, even the common cold can put you out of work for a week or so. That’s income lost and a financial strain that most people can’t afford. My motorcycle accident set me back several months due to fractured fingers and arm (among injuries to my foot and other body parts), all on my right side. Working as an illustrator back then, naturally I wasn’t able to work, but the bills kept coming in and three weeks in the hospital, including two surgeries, wasn’t cheap.

An emotional event such as a divorce, or having a sick child who spends a lot of time in the hospital for treatments, can easily cause depression. The financial strain only adds to the madness.

…few people see it coming

Being fired or laid off from a regular paycheck is a shock to the system and causes major stress for you and your family. It can come up when least expected, or happen after months of corporate rumors. Either way, few people see it coming.

Sometimes family calls, and you must answer. The loss of a family member, parents, siblings will cause depression. Going back to work is the last thing on one’s mind. Sometimes that mental block goes on for weeks… months… a year… or years.

Recently a friend announced on Facebook her impending divorce—I’m betting that changed her algorithms so she now gets dating site, and divorce lawyer ads. She cried about no longer being supported by her partner and her desperation to find a full time job. She admitted to a trap many of us fall into, complacency. The days of leisure and hobbies allowed her to fall behind and now her ability to find a staff position, needing income for rent, health insurance, and such, was causing her severe anxiety. As with any tragedy, she reached out to her friends and connections for help.

There are several steps one must make when financially smacked. Here’s a list of steps that will help you survive:

 

1. Reach Out To Your Network

This isn’t a time to be shy or embarrassed…you’ll certainly find out who you can count upon.

First stop is to make sure your CV/Résumé is up to date, and that means not only with all information, but with the newest CV/Résumé “rules.” Check the latest articles on the web for tips on how to make yourself fabulous. Then reach out to your network and send those queries out with your CV/Résumé. Friends, family, connections on business sites, people you went to school with. Hit everybody!

This isn’t a time to be shy or embarrassed. Everyone gets into a jam at some point and needs help. You’ll certainly find out who you can count upon.

 

2. List Your Income And Expenses

How much will you need to survive until your income can be replaced? How much will you need to cut from your expenses to keep your debt low? What social safety nets does your country have for unemployed citizens? Who will lend you money?

Living on your credit card may look like an easy answer but it’s a trap. Paying back a large balance will take years as interest keeps increasing. It’s usually impossible to not use credit, so if you do, use it very wisely! Friends will understand if you can’t buy them big presents for their birthday, or take vacations with them.

There are even small things you can cut, which adds up to big savings.

 

3. Bring In Money Any Way You Can

Yes, I know you’re chuckling at, “…any way you can.” But it’s time to drop your pride. A part-time job is easy to come by but they are not glamorous, not high-paying, and not a design job. I’ve bartended, flipped burgers, driven a delivery truck, and sold personal possessions to keep money coming in. I took less money from quick freelance jobs because I had to keep a flow of money. I borrowed money from friends and family. Through it all, I now know who my true friends are. That’s one of the good things about needing help. Here’s some immediate income solutions:

it’s time to drop your pride

  • Ebay: If I know my fellow creatives, like me, you have too many toys. Time to make tough choices and ebay those collectable figures! While I miss some of those toys, I was able to pay a lot of bills with sales.
  • Social safety nets: Many enlightened countries have programs to help the unemployed. A Canadian friend hit rock bottom before she found out that Canada has an incredible government program to help citizens survive. There are food banks, and grants from organizations and while it’s embarrassing to use them, eating is better than starving and keeping your pride, especially if you have kids. Google “food banks,” “artists’ grants,” “low cost loans” to see what might be available in your area. Religious organizations are also a good way to find grants and food banks.
  • Contract work: In lean times, I would work as a contract Art Director/Designer via an agent who specialized in design jobs. It paid well, would last a week or a few months, and it was a great way to grow my network. One of the better ways to make money.
  • Design contests: The much detested design contests are an evil that outweighs going into debt. Sign up under a fake name and give it a try. Winning will at least bring in money.
  • Beg freelance work: Ask your network for freelance work. Ask if anyone knows of an open position at their company. Sometimes it happens, depending on the economy and hiring freezes. As with everything else, it pays to ask.

 

4. Take Stock Of Your Other Talents

After my motorcycle accident, and three fractured fingers on my right hand and a fractured right arm (held together by surgical pins) among other injuries, I was not up to illustration, even though it  was my main income stream. But as I had my thumb and index finger workable and not constrained by the massive cast on my hand and arm, I found that the postage stamp-sized drawings I could doodle were pretty awesome. When I blew them up on a copier to 11 x 17 inches, the line quality was interesting and distinct. A touch of wash here and there, and I could keep working. My clients willingly accepted the new “look” of my work—maybe pity had something to do with it—and I also picked up new clients.

If you have to work outside of the field, better that it’s something you will enjoy

I never really recovered from that accident and cold days remind me of every accident I’ve ever had. Thank goodness the computer came along and my loss-of-fine-control drawing hand was perfect for a mouse. Transitioning to being a designer, then art director, then creative director was the best move I was ever forced to take!

When a former employer laid off two-thirds of its creative department, in four or five waves, people wondered where their next paycheck was coming from. I assured many of them that being creative applied to many careers. Creative thinking put towards any product or initiative is critical. I also encouraged them to think of other ways to use their creativity to make a living.

Ten years later, my former coworkers are painters, illustrators, sculptors, jewelry makers, truck drivers, store merchandisers, writers, classic car restorers, and Uber drivers. Some have jobs on creative staff or freelance. Even the ones with non-creative jobs make creativity their hobby. It’s not a forever thing, unless you want it to be. If you have to work outside of the field, better that it’s something you will enjoy.

 

5. Stay Sane!

Throughout any problem, you will suffer anxiety, depression, anger, and a few other emotional states. It’s normal, don’t be embarrassed, or ashamed. There are several ways people deal with staying sane. It might be exercise, watching movies, getting together with friends, or family, and whatever gets you feeling happier. Most importantly… laugh! Do anything for laughs because it’s the best medicine and you’ll need lots of it!

There are also ways to get free counselling. Google “free counselling,” and “support groups.” It helps to talk to others suffering the same emotions and needs, or a professional.

At one point I started seeing a counselor/therapist and it really did help. The most amazing psychological breakthrough was the therapist asking me if I had any recurring dreams. I had one that popped up in every dream. No matter what was happening in the dream, I would, out of nowhere, get anxious about the realization I hadn’t fed my cat in two years. I was desperate in the dreams to get home and feed the poor cat. That always became the focus of my dreams. In the non-dream life, my cat had died years before. The therapist smiled and said, “you’re the cat; you need to feed yourself.”

After that, I never had that same dream. I got a new cat, and always remembered that no matter how bad things got, I had to keep my sanity to get through it all. It’s the foundation of one’s existence.

 

In Conclusion

There’s always a way to climb out of a hole and it’s a huge help if you have lots of helpful connections. As mentioned before, your network will be your best way back. Luckily, I did a lot of favors over my career, so there were a good number of people who stepped up when asked for help. Some didn’t, but that’s how we find out who are real friends are. Sometimes that’s worth more than anything they could give you.

As I write this, I’m getting over a killer flu that had me sleeping for three straight days and loopy for four more… and my car needs $4,500 worth of work or it will explode. I’ll catch up, but it means my 1980s transforming robots from Japan are going on ebay.

 

Featured image via Unsplash.



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Popular design news of the week: January 20, 2020 – January 26, 2020

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

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

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

 

Nototo – A Virtual Memory Palace of your Notes

 

Startup Colors – Killer Color Combos for your Internet Startup

 

The New Landing Page is to Have no Landing Page at all

 

Futuristic Patterns in Graphic Design

 

65 Best Creative Instagram Accounts for Design Inspiration

 

Improve your Sign-Up Form with Off-White Text Fields

 

PHP in 2020

 

OpenStudio – All-In-One Business Management Software

 

The Burnout List

 

My Favorite UX Research Mistake

 

My Personal Website – From Zero to Hero in 5 Years

 

The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Sleeping Positions on a Plane

 

UX Design Process: A Simple (but Complete) Guide

 

Google Releases 3 New Experimental Apps to Help Cut Down your Phone Usage

 

7 Requirements of a Holistic Design System

 

Isotope · Filter and Sort Magical Layouts

 

Movie Poster — Figma Plugin

 

10 Practical Principles for Designing Better Experiences

 

An ‘Ultimate Guide’ to ‘Tab Hoarding’

 

Why Design Systems Fail and How to Make Them Work in 2020

 

How to Design Emails that People will Actually Read

 

How to Build a Design System in Abstract

 

LinkedIn for Freelancers and Small Business Owners

 

Radiohead Launches Digital ‘public Library’ of the Band’s Archive

 

How to Kill a Startup Idea with Google Keyword Planner and AdWords: A Case Study

 

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



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10 Best WordPress Plugins for Digital Marketing

Currently somewhere in the region of 34% of websites are built with WordPress, it’s the most utilized CMS (Content Management System) in the world. Part of that popularity stems from its underlying technologies—PHP and MySQL—which allows for dynamic content in posts, but also enables a rich ecosystem of plugins.

One of the trickiest aspects of launching a website is its digital marketing, and so naturally there are a plethora of WordPress plugins that aim to take care of this for you, from a simple helping hand, all the way to full automation. Today we’re going to roundup the 10 best WordPress plugins for digital marketing.

 

1. Hustle

Hustle is an excellent WordPress plugin for digital marketing. It includes a wide range of features aimed at boosting site visitors and audience. Also, some of its features are designed to make your site as aesthetically appealing as possible. Hustle comes with a set of widgets, slides, pop-ups, and shortcodes among others, This allows users to set up targeted ad campaigns and expand audience reach to generate more leads.

Furthermore, the plugin provides an avenue for swift social media sharing; digital marketers can easily share their sponsored posts (or ad posts) on notable social media platforms to generate leads and facilitate client conversion.

 

2. ThirstyAffiliates

ThirstyAffiliates is another essential plugin for digital marketing, and it’s a perfect tool for affiliate marketers. It serves as an extension for monitoring clicks on WP platforms. Put aptly, the plugin enables you to keep track of visitors on a WordPress site.

ThirstyAffiliates is mainly known for its link management functions, as well as its redirects and uncloaking features. These typically make your site marketable, attracting affiliate marketers and bloggers alike.

 

3. WooCommerce MailChimp

Did you know that you can integrate MailChimp with WooCommerce? WooCommerce MailChimp makes this possible. With this integrated plugin, you can easily optimize MailChimp for your online store.

The plugin allows you to set up MailChimp subscriptions for your clients, you can streamline your workflow and send those digital marketing campaigns to your customers without hassles. Also, you are provided with the opportunity to network or connect with interest groups and like minds, via the plugin’s “opt-in” options.

 

4. Click To Tweet

Click To Tweet is another interesting WordPress plugin for digital marketing. Basically, this plugin creates ad boxes tagged “Click To Tweet” in your WP posts. By clicking any of the boxes, a reader can easily share the blog content with his/her Twitter followers; making your post accessible to a larger audience.

Digital marketers operate mainly on social media; hence, this plugin provides a direct, one-click, avenue to export ad-posts to Twitter. Put aptly, your audience can conveniently share your blog posts on Twitter with ease.

Click-To-Tweet boxes come in various dimensions and sizes, depending on the content, type, and length of your post.

 

5. Envira Photo Gallery

Envira Photo Gallery is another WP plugin for marketers. It’s primarily designed to create photo galleries in WordPress, which is essential for digital marketing.

In marketing, a picture is generally more effective than a thousand-word article. Hence, as a marketer, this plugin offers you a seamless avenue to present pictures of your goods and/or services to prospective clients.

The plugin hosts a simple, yet powerful gallery builder, using a simple drag and drop function to upload photos to the gallery. Also, you can easily add metadata and links to your images/photos, to optimize search results.

 

6. WPForms

A typical marketer carries out market surveys at one point or another, which can be time-consuming. However, with the WPForms plugin in WordPress, you’re duly covered.

WPForms facilitates the creation of contact forms, newsletters, and other web forms. With WPForms, you can easily create web forms, in line with your needs and your target audience. So, if you’re a digital marketer looking to create forms for a market survey, user feedback/feedback report or price comparison/analysis, WPForms is an essential plugin for you.

 

7. Floating Social Media Icon

Just as its name implies, Floating Social Media Icon makes your social media icons float on your WordPress website.

Successful digital marketing is one with a formidable social media presence. Although WordPress is essential for creating marketing sites and curating captivating ad-posts, you still need a link to social media to reach your target audience. Hence, this tool offers a straight-forward avenue for exporting WordPress content to social media platforms. This is achieved by creating social media links, which are then floated in distinctive locations on your site.

 

8. OptinMonster

Another WordPress plugin that should be considered for digital marketing is OptinMonster. This fantastic WordPress plugin has a reputation for its lead generation features which allows you to capture email and boost sign-ups.

With OptinMonster, you can create and manage signup forms that can be added after content, slide-in forms, lightbox popups, inline, and even in the sidebar. OptinMonster also comes with Exit-Intent technology which allows you to convert visitors who are about to exit your website.

 

9. NextScripts: Social Networks Auto-Poster

NextScripts: Social Networks Auto-Poster is another useful WordPress plugin that is aimed at promoting posts from your WordPress site to your connected social media accounts.

SNAP (short for Social Networks Auto-Poster) is fully compatible with popular social media such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, Instagram, Telegram, Pinterest, and more.

Also, your blog posts—which are automatically shared on your social media—are 100% white labeled; you don’t have to worry about NextScripts SNAP from taking the credit.

This plugin is available in either a free or premium version. For the free version, users are limited to only 1 account per connected network e.g. you can only add 1 LinkedIn account, 1 Twitter account, etc., whereas the premium version is unlimited.

 

10. Sumo

Saving the best for last, Sumo is an easy-to-use comprehensive WordPress plugin ideal for digital marketers. With more than 35,000 business users, Sumo makes sales conversion easier, even for newbies.

Sumo can be utilized as an email marketing tool for growing your email list with timed popups. You can schedule email drips or marketing emails to communicate with your email list subscribers. Also, Sumo seamlessly integrates with WooCommerce – the WordPress ecommerce plugin. Hence, online store owners can reduce cart abandonment and increase order value by winning back customers.

If you are looking for a free suite of marketing tools for your upcoming WordPress design project, Sumo WordPress plugin might be all you need.

 

Featured image via Unsplash.



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What Does 5G Mean for Web Designers?


As we head into 2020, everyone is talking about 5G. The newest generation of mobile connectivity has some exciting things to offer, including reduced latency, improved connections, and faster speeds. By 2025, experts predict that 5G will have reached 1.4 billion devices worldwide.

However, 5G isn’t just set to have an impact on mobile browsing. Changes in mobile connectivity will have an impact on web design too.

As a web designer, it’s up to you to consider how the latest connectivity tools will impact the way users browse the web. Additionally, you may find that you have more space to explore the advantages of using larger content (like 4K video) within a client’s website.

Here’s how you can prepare for the fifth generation of mobile browsing.

 

5G: What’s All The Excitement About?

Before you can understand how 5G is going to transform your web design process, you’ll need to gain a better understanding of the technology overall.

5G is the fifth generation of mobile technology. It promises faster data upload and download speeds, more stable connections, and wider coverage overall. Compared to 4G, 5G can deliver speeds 10 to 20 times faster in real-world conditions. That means that users can load pages and files in a fraction of a second.

5G was created to handle the growing volume of data in the current environment. As video and music streaming increases, existing spectrum bands are increasingly congested. People are struggling to get the connectivity that they need. With 5G, we can create a more efficient mobile internet.

5G isn’t just about speed though. One of the biggest benefits of this new technology is the fact that it can offer dramatically reduced latency. In other words, there’s minimal time delay between a website sending information to a phone, and that data arriving where it needs to be. That’s even true for a site like this that’s full of rich content.

salus

It’s the lack of latency that could potentially transform each web design strategy through incredible user flow.

 

What Does 5G Mean for Website Design?

So, how will 5G impact the way that you design client websites?

The most obvious changes come from the increased data transfer speeds (lower latency).

When you don’t have to worry about lag on a website disrupting the user experience, you can experiment with a lot more content. Introducing complex visual elements to your site becomes simpler.

david_william_baum

We’re not just talking about image-heavy sites either, things like that already exist. Designers often use 4G image optimization technology like IMGIX to ensure that those websites work well on a smartphone and other mobile devices. Alternatively, 5G’s capabilities will see websites taking greater advantage of video. Not just any video, 4K content. While 4K video has been around on the web for a while, it hasn’t been used much by web designers. That’s because the loading times are often astronomical – particularly on mobile connections.

However, 5G could see 4K becoming a much more common feature. You could embed it into the background of your site or introduce it instead of a hero image.

Let’s take a closer look at how 5G could permit web designers to create some truly unique and impressive designs for their clients.

1. Videos Will Stream Faster

As mentioned above, one of the main ways that 5G will affect web design is that it will allow videos to stream much faster.

Experts predict that 5G wireless technology will be anywhere between 10 and 100 times faster than what we have right now. It could even be more reliable than running the cable directly into your home.

For web designers, this means that the opportunities are practically endless.

There’s no limit to what you could do with video, from immersive background content to videos on the home page of a site that highlights a product or service.

While designers can set videos not to play automatically to accommodate those with slower connection speeds, the opportunity will be there to deliver rich content immediately to visitors. Check out the background images for Kuhl & Han, for instance, and imagine how amazing they could be with 5G:

kuhl_han

2. Stronger Mobile Experiences

Mobile responsivity is already crucial to frictionless UX.

Today’s consumers are spending much more time on their smartphones. That means that designers need to think carefully about how websites are accessed on the go.

However, when 5G becomes more commonplace, there will be even more demand for stronger mobile experiences. You’ll need to think about how you can adapt your website to show up seamlessly whether your audience is using a set of smart glasses or just their phone.

The good news is that 5G should ensure that there doesn’t need to be as much of a gap between the experiences that people get on a desktop and those available on their mobile devices.

Designers should be able to create a consistent UX for customers wherever they are in the age of 5G.

3. Virtual and Augmented Reality

Finally, VR (Virtual Reality) and AR (Augmented Reality) have already begun to gain traction in recent years. Designers have begun to experiment with tools that allow them to place 3D videos into websites, or AR apps into product pages.

With an augmented reality app on a website, you could allow visitors to place piece of furniture in the environment of their living room or bedroom. This means that more customers can see what an investment will look like before they buy.

With virtual reality in the future, customers may even be able to step into a scene on your website and walk through a room decorated with your products.

Up until now, AR and VR have mostly been used by app developers to deliver more exciting gaming experiences. However, with 5G on the horizon, there’s nothing to stop web designers from creating immersive user experiences on a website too.

5G’s enhanced speed and reduced latency will open the door to unlimited new experiences. Users could even scan a QR code using a company’s website and unbox an item when they’re in-store with the app on their phone.

 

What to Remember When Designing for 5G

The arrival of 5G could bring a lot of exciting opportunities to today’s web designers. However, it’s important to remember that there are some challenges to overcome too.

For instance, the first thing that web designers need to know is that not all of the users visiting a website will have 5G right away. Although mobile operators are planning on delivering more 5G connections in 2020 and beyond – there’s a long way to go before it’s mainstream.

The technology is still in the early stages and will be available in only the biggest cities and towns, to begin with. Once the towers have been built to send out 5G signals, cell phones need to adapt and create the right chips to handle these new lightning-fast capabilities.

Carriers are still working on perfecting the systems that they’ll use to capture higher speeds and use them properly. There are even concerns about the health aspects of 5G, and whether exposure to a new frequency is bad for us in the long-term.

Once locations have begun to embrace 5G properly, and mobile developers have rolled out the right tech, you’ll also need to wait for customers to buy new phones. The new connections won’t work with old 4G enabled devices.

That means that we’re likely to have a combination of 5G and 4G users accessing the same website designs for a long time before 5G becomes wide-spread.

 

Getting Ready for 5G

While it’s essential for web designers to understand and adapt to the new potential that 5G has to offer, that doesn’t mean catering exclusively to 5G. Remember: There are parts of the world in which 3G is not only standard, but relatively new. Focusing too much on this new technology will put any user that isn’t capable of accessing those speeds at a serious disadvantage.

Instead, you’ll deliver better experiences overall if you still focus the majority of your efforts on 4G and typical connections for a while. Explore the opportunities that 5G has to offer and consider implementing more things like 4k videos and VR experiences over time.

However, as you introduce web design elements intended for 5G users remember to make them optional. Don’t start videos playing automatically, or make it impossible to browse a website unless you have access to AR.

We’ll be living in a world of hybrid connectivity for a while…



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The Latest Digital News for Web Designers

One of the most powerful tools we have in web design is consumer and industry data. It’s like a gauge that tells us whether we’re still heading in the right direction or it’s time to change course and adopt a new strategy or approach.

Unless you’re combing the web for the latest news and reports in the areas of design, marketing, and SEO, it’s easy to miss this pertinent data. So, in this roundup, I’m going to take care of that for you.

Below you’ll find a recap of 5 recent news stories and reports that need to be on your radar.

 

Comscore Reports on the State of Mobile

Comscore’s annual State of Mobile report focuses on the growing usage of mobile devices to explore the web.

According to the report, users around the globe spend roughly three-quarters or more of their digital time on mobile devices:

Comscore global mobile audience

Even if mobile apps are a key driver of this activity (which they are for certain business types like gaming and social), we know that consumers are glued to their phones more so than they are to their desktop computers.

If you haven’t yet made mobile-first design a priority—especially by bridging the gap between the mobile web and mobile app with PWAs—2020 is the year to do it. Your users already have their smartphones nearby, so why not make your website a must-visit destination there, too?

 

UX Tools Survey Gives Us a Look at the Software Designers Love

UX Tools’ 2019 survey of web designers found an interesting trend when it comes to the toolboxes they use to build websites:

UX Tools - Design Tools Survey

Sketch is the clear frontrunner when it comes to tasks like:

  • User flows;
  • Wireframing;
  • UI design;
  • Prototyping;
  • Design systems.

But Figma isn’t too far behind in all these categories. The surveyed web designers also named it the tool they’re most excited to try and use in 2020.

If you’ve been looking to experiment with new tools for your business, give this short survey a read as there is some really interesting software on the list (that’s not all owned by Sketch, Adobe, or InVision either).

 

MDN Asks Web Developers to Express Their Top Frustrations

The MDN Web DNA Report 2019 is a long read. Since most of it is geared towards web developers (who were surveyed for it), I’m going to zero in on the bit I think web designers may find relevant:

MDN Web Developer Needs

When asked to rank what were the most frustrating “needs” of the web, web developers expressed a lot of anguish over cross-browser design and testing. Bug resolution, privacy and security compliance, as well as tool overload were top concerns as well.

Even if you’re not contending with the problems that go along with coding, these frustrations are really relatable. As for what you can do with them? While I don’t believe we can eliminate these frustrations altogether, I do believe that a greater awareness of what’s happening on the web and more open discussions with our peers will lessen the associated pains.

 

Salesforce Recaps 2019 Black Friday/Cyber Monday Results

For those of you who build websites for retailers and ecommerce companies, the annual data on Black Friday and Cyber Monday performance is one you can’t afford to miss. I realize it might only seem relevant for one month of the year, but you can actually learn a lot about where consumer trends are heading based on how sales performed over the holidays.

Here are some of the more pertinent bits from Salesforce’s summary of Black Friday and Cyber Monday:

  • Black Friday sales reached $7.2 billion in the U.S. (up 14%);
  • Cyber Monday sales reached $8 billion (up 11%).

A lot of this growth can be attributed to consumers’ growing trust in mobile shopping what with 73% of all digital traffic on Black Friday originating on mobile devices and 56% of all purchases made on mobile devices.

So, if you haven’t yet made the switch to mobile-first design or optimizing for mobile checkout, now is the time to do that.

 

Jason Dorsey Suggests Millennial $$$ Woes May Soon Be Over

Jason Dorsey, the president of the Center for Generational Kinetics, has predicted a positive change in the state of millennial finances in the next decade.

Why does he believe that this debt-plagued generation will finally see a turnaround? There are five indicators he references:

  1. As millennials move further away from college, they’ll have a better handle on managing their debt (if they haven’t wiped it out completely);
  2. Many millennials are about to hit peak earnings in their careers;
  3. “The Great Wealth Transfer” is anticipated (i.e. older generations passing on inheritances to millennials);
  4. As the job market strengthens and debt shrinks, millennials may finally feel confident enough to buy homes for themselves;
  5. The same goes for those who delayed marriage during uncertain times.

With more money to spend and confidence to spend it with, millennials are going to be a huge driving force in the coming years. And this will most definitely affect web designers.

You may encounter more millennial business owners with cash to spend. And you’re definitely going to be designing web experiences to cater to the millennial consumer base. So, understanding how they think, what they value, and how much money they have to spend is going to be critical for your future success.

 

Wrap-Up

That’s it for this month’s look at the latest digital news and research.

If you’re interested in staying on top of information that’s going to impact your work, be sure to tune into WebDesigner Depot every month for more data and report roundups.

 

Featured image via Unsplash.



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Popular design news of the week: January 13, 2020 – January 19, 2020

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

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

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

 

Why I Quit Using Google

 

This is the One Skill Designers Need to Develop Most in 2020

 

The Definitive Guide to Landing Pages

 

Goodbye, Clean Code

 

Netflix Rejects their New Layout in this A/B Test

 

UX Design Trends Retrospective 2019

 

SPELLL

 

Design System Checklist

 

The Complete List of Font Formats and their Use

 

Hand-Picked List of the Best WordPress Themes in Every Niche for 2020

 

HTML Attributes to Improve your Users’ Two Factor Authentication Experience

 

3 Illustration Trends that will Be Big in 2020

 

Back to Basics in Typography

 

Typo Puns – Series of Fun Typographic Joke Posters

 

20 Best Number Fonts for Displaying Stylish Numbers

 

How to Make Money as a Product Designer

 

UXTweak: Platform for UX Researchers and Designers

 

Welcome to Apple: A One-party State

 

Yell Launches New Salary Tool for Graphic Designers

 

17 Trends in Illustration and Graphic Design to Meet 2020

 

Everything You Think You Know About Minimalism is Wrong

 

KPI is an Imperative Tool for UX Designers

 

Calculate Colors, Share Palettes

 

Being a Solo Founder: Pros, Cons, Tips and Tricks

 

How to Write your CTAs to Fit your Campaign

 

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



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Can Best Practice Replace Design Research?

Tempting it may be to skip the consultation process, but a ‘first principles’ approach is not going to cut it with the majority of your clients. The principles of design exist for a reason, but knowing when and how to break them is what separates great designers from good ones.

Heart-warming or not, co-creation with a client—the utopian ideal of shared vision—has its drawbacks. There are only so many times you can hear the words “brand strategy” before actually chewing your own face off. In the age of WordPress, Drupal and, dare I say it, Wix, it’s never been more tempting to pay lip-service to research and consultation. Instead of building a principles framework from scratch, why not roll out something from a template in a fraction of the time?

Well, in fact, there probably are situations where a simple WordPress-type approach will work really well. The trick is knowing when.

 

What Is “Best Practice” Anyway?

Well, exactly.

Even if you slept through design school, or didn’t go at all, you probably know the fundamentals already. And it’s true. If you stick to first principles, you won’t go far wrong. Here are some examples:

  • Color and Contrast: 2-3 colors maximum, use contrast to highlight important elements;
  • White Space: Use plenty of it, be consistent with proportions above and below;
  • Layout: Symmetric Grid. Err…Always. Work ‘above the fold’;
  • Typography: No more than 2-3 typefaces;
  • Logo: Long, top left, always;
  • Compexity vs Simplicity: Look for balance and visual interest;
  • Visual Hierarchy: Use color, contrast, size and complexity to highlight important elements;
  • Consistency: With all of the above, whatever you decide, be consistent;
  • And so on…

One size, though, doesn’t fit all. By bending and even breaking the rules sometimes, you’ll create designs that stand out and, more importantly, meet the real requirements of the brief.

 

The One Unbreakable Rule

It’s pretty hard to find a “Best Practice” that really works in every situation, but here’s one:

No matter what you’re doing, make sure you know why you’re doing it.

And, just in case you were wondering, “err…because it looks pretty?” and “because it’s easier than what I probably ought to do instead…” aren’t really reasons.

There are clearly situations where a client—whatever they may think—is best served by a simple off-the-shelf approach. Particularly if their budget is more Scrooge than Soros. The thing is, you probably still need to go through a research process to find out whether that’s the case or not.

 

When And How To Go Off Piste

Before or just after accepting the job, you’ll likely need to do some research with the client. This process should focus on (you guessed it) brand strategy.

Ideally, in the first instance, you’ll build a design principles framework. Whatever decisions you make after that (whether you’re going to stick to the rules or break them) should be justified with reference to the framework.

Here are some examples of situations where you might consider deviating from “best practice”:

You Want to Send a Particular Message

Take this site for a children’s fitness company, for example.

fitnessfinders

It clearly breaks all the rules about color and typeface, and a few more besides, but overall gives a sense of vibrance and playfulness, which of course is ideal for this market.

You Want to Draw Attention to Something

By ignoring the imperative to “work above the fold” and putting product and logo front and centre, candle manufacturer Waxxy draws the eye directly to their “product centred” philosophy and creates a sense of light and space:

waxxy

Natale’s Clothing uses additional fonts and a broken grid layout to emphasise content and create a sense of being “out of the ordinary”.

natales

 

You Want to Keep Things Clean

Legend has it, if you “put everything on the homepage” it’s good for SEO and easier for users. These days, though, there’s often a lot of information, and we prefer to have more space, even if it means a bit more browsing.

toke

If you visit Toke’s site here, you’ll see that they break the animation taboo in a subtle and effective way as well.

These are just a few examples, there are many more. In each case the key questions to ask are:

  1. How does it meet the brief?
  2. How does it help brand strategy?

 

When To Stick To The Script

A big consideration here will likely be the client’s budget. With the best will in the world, you’re going to struggle to create a logo, design a custom typeface, and build a multi-page site from scratch on $800. If that’s what the client’s asking for, and can’t understand the limitations, maybe consider saying no!

If, on the other hand, there’s scope to negotiate, where budgets are small and, in situations where, for example, the client has a small number of products and/or services, a single page WordPress site will often be exactly what they need. Here it’s not a question of “doing the bare minimum” but rather “not doing too much”. Even so, there will probably be bespoke elements that you can change to better fit the strategy.

Another important moment to check yourself, is whenever you’re not sure if an idea works. If you can’t justify a decision with reference to your design principles framework—or at least with reference to the client’s brand strategy—then it’s probably best to err on the side of caution.

 

Research or Best Practice?

In a word, both.

There are definitely situations where a “first principles” approach will be exactly what the client needs. Particularly if their budget is small and their needs are simple. Even in this case, though, a great designer will take the time to understand (or help to develop) the brand strategy, and add whatever tweaks are necessary. Each client and each brand is unique, and a designer’s job, if you think about it, is to reflect just that.

When using a bespoke approach, breaking with convention can, as we’ve seen, produce interesting and stylish results. It’s important, though, that each decision makes sense, and can be linked back to the brand strategy. If it can’t, it probably shouldn’t be in the design.

And whatever you do, don’t chew your face off.

 

Featured image via Unsplash.



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Understand Your Users with positionstack

One of the best things about the Internet is that it (mostly) doesn’t care where you are. The person you’re interacting with might be in Rio or Rhode Island, Bahrain or Birmingham. The Internet opens up the world.

But opening up the world doesn’t mean removing it. The geographic independence loved by users can be a real headache for businesses, because nearly all businesses are constrained by geography. For business, having an accurate picture of where your users are means understanding them, understanding your relationship to them, and can mean the difference between an enviable user experience, and a PR disaster.

Geocoding grants you Sherlock Holmes-like powers of deduction

One option for understanding a user’s location is Geolocation, which allows you to locate a user via their IP address; it’s not perfect because IP addresses are tricky things. Arguably a better option, thanks largely to the accuracy of the starting data, is Geocoding. Greater reliability than Geolocation makes Geocoding a more useful option for UX designers.

Geocoding grants you Sherlock Holmes-like powers of deduction, to seek out rich data about your users. But where do you start? One of the best ways is to integrate your site or app with positionstack.

 

What Are The Benefits of Geocoding?

It’s awesome that you can sell your band’s T-shirt to a fan in Vietnam, or ship a used car part to a mechanic in Siberia, but until 3D printing gets a lot more sophisticated there needs to be a way to move objects from Point A, to Point B; step 1 in that process is figuring out exactly where Points A and B are.

Shipping goods, with all the automatically calculated costs, isn’t the only reason you may want to know someone’s location. For example, it’s good manners to present prices in the local currency, or direct customers to a support line that speaks their language. And unfortunately, there are legal issues to consider: national and international bans exist on trading with some nations, accepting certain orders from some users could land you in hot water.

The key to a great user experience is gathering data about your users and then acting on it

One of the best features of a Geocode API like positionstack is that once your user has disclosed their location you can make an educated-guess at a whole lot more, from their probable first language, to their marketing preferences, and even the time they’re likely to come home from the office.

Imagine you’re offering a callback service on your website. Geocoding not only ensures you can pre-fill the international dialling code in the callback form, but it tells you the user’s timezone—essential if you don’t want to wake them up with a 4am sales pitch.

A user’s location also affects their outlook on the world. Go visit a major international company like Apple, Nike, or Pepsi, change your location on their site, and compare how brands with millions of research dollars pitch their wares differently in North America, France, Indonesia, or New Zealand. The key to a great user experience is gathering data about your users and then acting on it.

 

Why Choose positionstack?

With just a user’s physical address you can determine dozens of different characteristics that allow you to naturalize your site or app for users. Based on an address—even a partial address—positionstack can determine the user’s currency, dialling code, even their hours of daylight.

One of the best features of positionstack is its ability to translate an address into a latitude and longitude, then plot that position on a map that you can easily embed on your site. Nothing builds a connection like showing a user a place they recognize; it builds confidence, increases conversions, and ultimately means higher profits for you.

And that’s not all. positionstack enables both forward, and reverse geocoding. That means as well as finding a global position from an address, it can also find an address from a latitude and longitude. You can even perform batch queries (multiple searches) allowing you to narrow down addresses from an approximate location.

a super-reliable infrastructure, handling over a billion requests per day, with a typical response time of less than 100 milliseconds

As you can probably guess, any Geocoding API is only as useful as the data that underpins it. positionstack is run by apilayer, one of the most trusted names in APIs. It boasts a super-reliable infrastructure, handling over a billion requests per day, with a typical response time of less than 100 milliseconds. positionstack’s API is built on a database of more than two billion global locations, sourced from high-quality data sources, and it’s updated on a daily basis.

positionstack is also exceptionally easy to integrate into a site or app. There are code examples provided in PHP, Python, Nodejs, Go, Ruby, and jQuery—you can even use the service with vanilla JavaScript. Data is returned in XML, JSON, or GeoJSON formats.

Perhaps the most appealing feature of positionstack is that it’s completely free for use up to 10,000 API requests per month. So if you’re running a small site, or just getting started, you can make use of professional-grade data at zero cost. Once you’ve grown large enough to need it, premium subscriptions start at just $9.99 per month.

Head over to positionstack.com today, to get started with Geocoding for free.

 

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



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How Many Types of X Acronyms Are There?

One of the problems with coining a term like “user experience” or its acronym counterpart “UX” is that it opens up the floodgates for other trendy experience-related acronyms to enter the web design lexicon.

CX, DX, EX, HX, JX, PX, UX, (U)XD…

Is all of this really necessary though?

While I don’t think you need to go adding EX or JX to your vocabulary anytime soon, it’s still a good idea to educate yourself on what these X acronyms mean and how to use them to your advantage in business.

 

The X’s of Web Design and Marketing

The two most common experience acronyms in web design and marketing are UX and CX. What you may be surprised to learn, however, is that the “X” in these acronyms doesn’t always stand for “experience” nor does it always pertain to the end customer.

Let’s review what each of the X acronyms means and then we’ll talk about which ones you actually need to worry about and use.

Customer Experience (CX)

CX refers to the quality of interactions a customer has with a brand, from the very first encounter to their very last. As such, customer experience is the most important of all the X’s to monitor, measure, and maintain.

Think about all of the places where the CX could go off the rails:

  • A broken form on the website dissuades them from trying to connect with a brand;
  • A support representative fails to respond in a timely fashion, leaving the user feeling helpless;
  • The customer makes a purchase every month for two years, but has noticed a degradation in quality over time.

This is why it’s so important for businesses to have a game plan from Day 1 — especially one that ensures a consistent delivery of products and services throughout the lifetime of a customer relationship. Any misstep in CX could cost a brand a customer’s business and loyalty.

Digital Transformation (DX)

DX refers to a technological evolution within a company. Although it’s not a term you commonly hear thrown around, it’s happening around us all the time.

If you’ve ever made a digital shift within your own business (say, from one OS to another or from a manual process to one that’s automated), you know what far-reaching effects it can have. Your time, money, and sometimes even your clients can be impacted by the change if you don’t prepare for it in advance.

Imagine what happens when it’s not just a sole business owner or freelancer who’s affected by a digital transformation.

Emotional Experience (EX)

There are two ways in which “EX” may be used in design or marketing. This is one way.

Think of emotional experience as a subset of user experience. Instead of focusing on developing a clear set of steps that take a user through their journey, EX design and marketing focus on the elements that evoke strong emotions: Powerful color palettes; Nostalgic images; Messages of urgency.

Any time you build something with the intent of pulling on someone’s emotions, that’s emotional experience design — and it’s a really common thing we do today, even if we don’t all go referring to it as EX.

Employee Experience (EX)

This is the second use of EX you may encounter, though it’s not very likely unless you’re working in a digital agency environment. Even then, this is the kind of term that only corporate might use.

While it might not be a commonplace phrase, the concept is a good one to flesh out, whether you work in a team atmosphere or you have aspirations of hiring your own team someday. All employee experience really refers to is how team members feel about and respond to a work environment and their organization as a whole.

Essentially, EX is UX for an internal organization. And by researching what employees want, collecting feedback on how they feel, and reviewing data on their productivity and job satisfaction, companies can effectively improve the employee experience — which should have a trickle-down effect to CX.

Human Experience (HX)

I’ve heard it said that HX is all about taking UX and CX to a new level.

Even though they’re both meant to create a more pleasing end user experience, the belief is that there’s still too much focus on the technology instead of the humans we should be serving. That it’s only when we stop focusing on how technology can attract and convert and please more customers that we can fulfill the real purpose of a company.

While honesty, transparency, and ethics are the kind of ideals every brand should strive for, it’s not always realistic to prioritize them what with how difficult it is to convince users to convert. There’s just too much information competing for their attention right now. So, while it’s nice to think about being able to market and sell a company to human beings instead of generalizing them as “users” or “customers”, that’s just not feasible for newer and smaller companies.

That said, I think HX is still a worthwhile concept to keep in mind. While you might not be able to do much with it now, it can certainly be a game-changing differentiator once a brand has long been established.

Job Transformation (JX)

JX and DX go hand-in-hand.

Basically, as companies adopt more and more digital solutions, and those solutions become more complex (thanks in part to AI), jobs are going to change. So, rather than hire IT specialists who can manage on-site hardware and software, businesses will be looking for AI specialists and cloud service providers who can help them make the most of their all-digital operation.

Partner Experience (PX)

PX may refer to one of two things. For this one, the partner in the experience could be a business partner, product supplier, SaaS provider, etc. Basically, any third party who you have a relationship with.

As far as web design and marketing goes, PX can affect you in a number of ways.

For example, if you were to manage web hosting on behalf of your clients. You notice that their site’s gone offline, so you reach out to the customer support representative from the web hosting company, but they’re either non-responsive or have no clue what the heck is going on. Who do you think your client is going to be upset with? No matter how much you try to pass the buck, you’re the one who’s set yourself up as the go-between, so it’s going to fall on you.

Now, let’s say you’re a solo web designer and want to partner with a copywriter since clients keep asking for help in that area. In that case, PX could affect you in a similar fashion. If the writer were to fall short in their duties (or vice versa), not only would your relationship with them be compromised, but the relationship between you and the client would as well.

Bottom line: the relationships you have with partners and suppliers plays a critical role in your success, so you do need to spend time focusing on those experiences.

Public Experience (PX)

PX, in this instance, is more likely to be used by agencies that specialize in branding and market research. That’s because this one has to do with how a brand is perceived by society. And all of the other acronyms contribute to it.

For instance:

  • An employee believes they were unfairly fired and puts the company on blast on Facebook. It gets picked up by a major news source and the story goes viral.
  • A website is hacked the day before Black Friday, leaving thousands of users without a place to buy all of the gifts they were hoping to get on sale that holiday season.
  • A company releases a new app which parents are calling for a ban on because it reinforces unhealthy stereotypes.

From the product itself to how the company engages with the public, there are many ways in which the PX may be affected. While each of the contributors — including you the web designer — have to be cognizant of how their choices and actions may affect the public image of a brand, it’s more likely the branding team will need to worry about PX.

User Experience (UX)

You’re probably already familiar with UX. This is the term we use to describe how a user (visitor) feels as they walk through a website or app. And how each step they take and each interaction they make, adds up to an overall experience.

In order to “create” a user experience, designers, developers, writers, and marketers need to be able to step inside the shoes of their users and build a journey tailor-made for them. I’ll explain in more detail how that happens in the next point.

(User) Experience Design (UXD)

The subject of user experience design is a common one discussed here. Just recently, the following UXD topics have been explored:

UXD is a discipline that requires a lot of research, attention to detail, and testing. And the end result is a website or app that’s highly usable, accessible, and enjoyable. That’s because every element, step, and interaction has been carefully thought through. And not only that, the experience is constantly reevaluated, tested, and updated to continually serve the end user.

As far as you’re concerned, I’d say that UX/UXD is the most important acronym for you to concern yourself with.

 

Wrap-Up

The fact of the matter is, there’s a lot of value in accepting the underlying principles of these acronyms. However, I’m not sure we need to make “designer speak” sound any more complicated than it already is.

After all, your clients don’t want to hear you talk about how DX is affecting the way we build the UX of websites. They want real speak. They want to know what exactly you’re going to do for them; not spend extra time asking you to elaborate on what all of that design jargon means.

Plus, if you do get caught up in all of these “experiences”, you might not get anything done. What I’d suggest is to focus on the ones that matter:

UX — even if you’re not an official UX designer by trade — is incredibly important.

CX is another must, though the only CX you can fully control is your own. You’ll have to trust that the clients you work for will deliver the rest on their end.

I also think DX is a good one to keep in the corner of your mind.

Technological advancements aren’t going to stop anytime soon and you’re working in a field where the tools you use and the tech that affects your business are constantly changing. So, while you might not talk about “DX”, you do need to accept that it’s going to have a profound effect on how you work, how you develop processes, and what you’re able to do for clients.

Like I said earlier, the underlying concepts of each of these X acronyms are valid and do hold some value for you as a web designer. As you work on growing your business — by adding more services, hiring employees, upgrading your tech — it would serve you well to keep these in mind to ensure you maintain a positive experience across the board.

 

Featured image via Unsplash.



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