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Designers

15 Useful Tools and Services for Designers and Agencies

When the time has come to make some changes to your website-building toolkit there’s no shortage of tools or services you could use to smooth out your workflow, save money, add to website capabilities, or put bigger smiles on your clients’ faces.

There are literally hundreds of tools and services you could choose from, if you had the time to make the necessary comparisons, and if you could be confident your choices were good ones.

Or, at our invitation you can browse our selection of top tools and services for 2020. Each of our choices is based on comprehensive reviews, comparisons, and careful analyses. Any one of these tools or services is quite capable of not only making your day but changing how you do business – and for the better.

 

1. UXPin

Prototyping and collaboration have time and again proven to be not only useful but powerful techniques web design teams count on to achieve successful outcomes, especially for large or very complex projects.

UXPin is a highly advanced prototyping and collaborative tool that lets you build prototypes that look and feel like the final product.

It is not difficult to use UXPin. Some might refer to it as Google Docs on steroids as far as the collaborative features are concerned. These features include:

  • Reusable design elements and components team members can use to quickly create prototypes;
  • Interactive form elements, such as check boxes, text fields, and radio buttons;
  • Vector drawing tools than enable team members to create prototype elements that are limited only by their imaginations;
  • Material Design, iOS, and Bootstrap design element libraries.

Click on the banner to find out more about this powerful tool and its many additional features.

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2. BeTheme

BeTheme, with its more than 40 core features, including a huge assortment of website-building elements, is the biggest WordPress theme of them all. Be has virtually everything you would want or expect from a premium multipurpose WordPress theme, which is a very good reason for including it in this list.

This theme is fast, it’s flexible, and it’s very easy to work with. A beginner could create a traffic-generating website on the first try. Experienced web designers appreciate how easy Be makes it for them to satisfy a large and diverse clientele.

The package includes:

  • What has to be the highlight; Be’s selection of 500+ responsive and customizable pre-built websites. They cover 30 industry sectors, a wide range of business niches, and all the major website types.
  • An Admin Panel, a Shortcode Generator, and a selection of shortcodes that gives users a multiplicity of design options and eliminate the need for coding.
  • The powerful Muffin Builder 3 page builder, a Layout Generator, multiple grid layout options, and much, much more.

Click on the banner to find out more about this popular theme.

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3. Mobirise Website Builder

Three good reasons to select a website builder are (1) if you can use it however you want, (2) if it’s affordable, or better yet, free, and (3) if you are given complete control over your design/build process.

Mobirise satisfies these criteria, and there are many other reasons for choosing it as well.

  • Mobirise is offline. All you have to do is download it. Then, you can use it as you please.
  • Mobirise is free. No strings attached, and you can use it for both personal and commercial purposes.
  • You’re not tied to a given platform. This, along with being offline, is why you have complete control over what you do.

In addition, Mobirise has a great selection of HTML themes, homepage templates, and over 2,500 trendy website blocks to work with, no coding is required, and your sites will be 100% responsive and exhibit crazy-fast performance.

Click on the banner to learn more.

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4. LayerSlider

LayerSlider is, as many designers already know, a great tool for designing sliders, popups, and other animated website elements.

Features include:

  • A drag and drop visual builder and a Photoshop-like image editor;
  • Animated page blocks that make it possible to build a complete website;
  • A large selection of slider templates, including templates especially designed for beginners;
  • LayerSlider is SEO and mobile device friendly as it includes a variety of layout options to work with.
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5. Dr. Link Check

If you have a large website featuring an abundance of links, you’ve probably come across one or more broken links from time to time. Even a single broken link should be unacceptable, and Dr. Link Check is a service that inspects code to identify broken links.

Dr. Link Check also:

  • Checks server response times and error codes;
  • Checks for proper URL formatting;
  • Can be scheduled to check on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis.

Click on the banner to learn more about this important service.

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6. Uncode – Creative Multiuse WordPress Theme

Uncode is a creative top-seller multiuse theme for creatives who need a tool like this to best serve their needs. Uncode is ideal for building portfolio, blogging, or magazine-style sites or websites for small businesses, entrepreneurs, and startups.

Uncode’s many features include:

  • A powerful frontend editor, an advanced grid system, and adaptive image system;
  • 400+ Wireframes Sections;
  • WooCommerce and WPML compatibility.

The showcase is definitely not to be missed. Click on the banner to see it.

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7. Stockfresh

Three things to look for in a stock photo agency is a large, well-organized inventory, quality items, and reasonable prices. It’s also nice to be able to browse through the inventory before you pay a penny. That’s what Stockfresh is all about.

  • Stockfresh has an inventory of millions of items;
  • Sign up for free to see what’s available before choosing a plan;
  • The items are categorized (30 categories) and the prices are competitive.

Click on the banner and sign up today.

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8. XStore | Multi-Purpose WooCommerce WordPress Theme

One way to get precisely the eCommerce store you want is to build it from scratch. That’s the hard way. Putting XStore to work may seem like a lazy approach, but it’s actually far better; not to mention faster.

There are several reasons for letting XStore do the heavy lifting:

  • 90+ ready-to-go customizable stores;
  • XStore’s powerful product page builder;
  • Inspirational product demos;
  • $300 worth of premier plugins;
  • Powerful header builder.

They add up to a stress-free way to build your store.

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9. Slider Revolution

7 million worldwide users have made Slider Revolution a popular tool for incorporating creative sliders and special effects into web designs. Slider Revolution 6.0 does a great deal more.

  • 6.0 enables you to create awesome sliders, content modules, carousels, and hero headers;
  • A host of ready-to-go templates, addons, and 2,000 royalty-free elements give you almost unlimited design possibilities;
  • With 6.0, you can even build a complete website.
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10. 8b Website Builder

8b is brand new. It’s super-fast. It’s a joy to work with. You can create websites from your desktop, from a mobile device, or both.

Among the reasons for incorporating such a new tool on our list of top tools are these:

  • 8b sites get fast Google rankings;
  • The package features 250 cool templates;
  • Features include AMP, PWA, and Site Export;
  • 8b is free to use, plus you get a free domain.

Check 8b out today!

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11. WhatFontis

You’ve found the perfect font. You can’t identify it or locate its source. Sound like a bad dream? It happens to web designers all too often.

It’s time to call upon WhatFontis. Download an example of the font in question and you can expect a response in seconds:

  • A positive identification;
  • A very close match if the exact font can’t be located;
  • Alternatives with prices if the font is too pricey.

Seems like a very good deal. It is.

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12. Goodiewebsite

Goodiewebsite is a development platform servicing a web designer in need of assistance, or a small business owner who wishes to establish an online presence.

You can expect outstanding results from goodiewebsite if you:

  • Need a simple WordPress website;
  • Intend to conduct business via a simple WooCommerce site;
  • Have a 1 to 10 page website in mind.

Goodiewebsite also provides responsive email templates to help its customers with their marketing.

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13. Heroic KB – Knowledge Base Plugin

FAQ pages tend to give “stock” responses which often fail to completely answer a user’s question. Giving those same users fact-filled responses can do wonders for your business. With the Heroic Knowledge Base plugin you can:

  • Provide visitors with a wealth of useful, accurate, and up-to-date information;
  • Make this information available 24/7 via rapid search;
  • Apply Heroic KB’s actionable analytics and feedback to improve your customer service operation.

In other words, the Heroic Knowledge Base plugin is a wise investment.

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14. Rank Math

Trying to optimize your site to make the search engines love your content isn’t always an easy task. A better way is to let Rank Math do your SEO heavy lifting. Rank Math offers the following:

  • Analyses of 40 different SEO factors to help your website attract more traffic and make it an eCommerce powerhouse;
  • A cool selection of Elementor, Automated Image, WooCommerce, and Local SEO tools;
  • 404 Monitor;
  • Sitemap, redirection, and error checks.
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15. Movedo Theme

Movedo is a theme that can make 2020 a year you’ll fondly remember. It was created by a top rated author who didn’t mind straying outside the envelope on occasion to provide users with an assemblage of nifty, extremely useful special effects, e.g., things that are either moving or simply appearing to so.

  • Gives you a clean, modern design to work with;
  • Is responsive and extremely flexible;
  • Offers 24/7 support.

Movedo can indeed make this a year you’ll remember. It rocks!

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The above selection should make it easy to find a tool or service that will save you time, minimize your business costs, and help to streamline your design workflows or business operations. You’ll also avoid having to sift through hundreds of tools and services to find something that would work best for you.

These tools and services practically guarantee to increase the amount of time you’ll have to devote to your more pressing tasks and items.

 

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



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Exciting New Tools for Designers, March 2020

Spring is in the air. As the season changes, many designers are looking for a little refresh of their own. Hopefully some of these new tools and resources will do the trick.

Here’s what new for designers this month.

 

Visme

Visme allows you to quickly create and share content with tools to build presentations, infographics, documents, videos, and graphics — with little to no design skills. But it’s for designers too with features that you will appreciate in a platform that makes crafting visuals quick and easy. (It’s great for creating social media graphics, in particular!) The new release is intuitive and allows you to work with video or still images, illustrations, text, maps, and more. You can even set branding guidelines so your team can work from the free app.

 

Thinkers Notebook and App

The Thinkers Notebook and App brings your paper sketches to the digital space. The notebook and app work together to turn things on the page into high-res digital images that you can share, add notes to, edit and more. The best feature is the ability to collaborate and comment on handwritten notes or ideas. If you still like to use paper and pen to start the ideation process this tool is for you. (The app is free and the notebook is under $20.)

 

Opensource Builders

Looking for an alternative to a certain app? Opensource Builders is a collection of open-source tools with similar functionality.

 

Unscreen

Unscreen will remove the background of videos automatically. You can record footage anywhere – even without a green screen – and use the tool to scrub the background to an invisible layer and then add your own background element. The tool is free and also includes a pro version (coming soon) with more features.

 

Beastnotes

Beastnotes is designed for students taking online courses. The tool allows you to efficiently capture notes while watching video lectures with the browser extension. Then use the site to revise and study for exams. The best part? You don’t have to try to decipher your handwriting later.

 

Iconset

Iconset can help you save time searching for icons on your computer. The tool is a free SVG icon organizer that works on Mac and Windows operating systems. It features a drag and drop interface and can be sync for team use. You can even create and publish your own icons sets and find everything using a super-fast search tool.

 

Svelte-Grid

Svelte-Grid is a draggable and resizable grid layout with responsive breakpoints. And you guessed it, this tool is for Svelte.

 

Masked and Layered Linear Gradients

Here’s a pen you’ll want to play with. Masked and Layered Linear Gradients is a neat look behind the curtain of how a cool background gradient swatch comes together.

 

Neumorphism.io

Neumorphism.io is a generator to create the CSS for the soft UI style that seems to be popping up everywhere. Change the colors, size, and more to get just the design you are looking for in the neumorphic style.

 

Glitch Art Generator

Glitch Art Generator helps you create a glitch background effect and download the file once you get it right. Adjust colors, number of glitches, location, direction, and corner effects.

 

Android Phone Mockups

If you are looking for an Android phone mockup, you’re in luck. This set includes eight mockup templates so you can showcase designs in a realistic environment.

 

Heroicons

Heroicons is a free MIT-licensed set of SVG icons for web projects. The set includes two styles – outline and solid – with 140 icons each.

 

Vangogh

Vangogh is a color palette generator that uses machine learning to generate color combinations based on a search term. Each query – such as winter or sunset – returns four themes with five palettes each. You can also pull palettes from images. Every palette comes with downloadable color codes.

 

Cutt.ly

Cutt.ly is a URL shortner that allows you to create branded short links and track everything in an analytics dashboard. It also includes a browser toolbar shortcut for super-fast link shortening.

 

Care Bear Needs Love

Care Bear Needs Love is just a fun little project by Jhey. Click the mouse to start (We won’t spoil the surprise; you should go visit for yourself.)

 

Create Diagonal Layouts

Did you know you can build diagonal layouts with CSS? This tutorial by Nils Binder includes markup and tips to make easy work of something that looks cool and complicated.

 

Stacking Cards Effect

This tutorial takes your through creating a trendy stacking cards effect using the CSS sticky position and the Intersection Observer API. It includes a demo and downloads to make the most of this simple lesson.

 

Signup Form Generator

Use visual tools to create a sign-up form in three steps and for free. Choose the template you like, fill in the fields, select a color. Download the form and its Angular code, or customize it in UI Bakery.

 

MarkUp

MarkUp lets your turn your website (or concept design) into a canvas for feedback and collaboration. Real-time commenting can help you get projects done faster and know exactly what pain points there might be with the design. You can have an unlimited number of projects, collaborators, and comments for free.

 

Airtable Scripting Block

Airable users will appreciate this — a new scripting block that allows you to write, edit, and run short scripts right inside the tool. Plus, it’s all hosted within Airtable.

 

Boring Sans B

Boring Sans B (there’s also an A) is a typeface family designed along two variable axes, weight and weirdness. These parameters allow designers to explore a full range of variations on sans serif design, starting from a neutral set of proportions and evolving to a strongly contrasted and dynamic treatment.

 

Deep Shadow

Deep Shadow is a slab typeface that creates the expected effect from its name. It uses layering to create the effect and does have some instructions for use.

 

Holla Hearth

Holla Hearth is an elegant brush script that makes a beautiful display typeface. The demo is somewhat limited, but a full version of the typeface is available.

 

Manti Slab

Manti Slab is a good choice if you want to make a statement with typography. Regular, Light, and Black weights are highly readable. The demo includes a limited character set and there is a full version available.

 

Stanley

Stanley combines unexpected things: Ligatures and a stencil style. The characters are interesting and have a lot of character.

stanley

 

Street Photography

Street Photography is a typeface with a handwriting style that is easy to use. It includes upper and lowercase characters but is otherwise limited.

street



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The Latest Research for Web Designers, March 2020

While it’s important to know about the latest research and surveys impacting web design, I think it’s just as important to stay informed about news that may affect your work as a designer.

As such, this roundup of the latest research for web designers includes a mix of reports along with some news and facts about something that people are talking about all around the world: the coronavirus.

 

A Better Lemonade Stand Analyzes the Best Remote Working Locations

With the help of Nomad List, A Better Lemonade Stand has aggregated a list of the 20 best places to work remotely.

While finding a place to live can be a very subjective matter (for instance, some people prefer colder locales or warm ones), this list takes into account factors that can have a serious impact on the work of a freelancer. For example, this is why Auckland, New Zealand ended up taking the #1 spot for remote work:

Latest Research for Web Designers - Nomad List ranking for Auckland New Zealand

The other cities to round out the top 10 are:

  • Bengaluru, India
  • Budapest, Hungary
  • Buenos Aires, Argentina
  • Chiang Mai, Thailand
  • Dubrovnik, Croatia
  • Hanoi, Vietnam
  • Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam
  • Krakow, Poland
  • Lisbon, Portugal

I’d argue that it’s high scores on factors like the following that make them the best spots to work remotely from:

  • Cost
  • Internet speed
  • Free wifi in the city
  • Places to work from
  • Walkability
  • Happiness score
  • Quality of life

If you’ve been considering a move and you want it to not only be a place you love but that’s good for your business, one of these nomad-friendly spots might fit the bill.

 

Hubspot Gives Us a Comprehensive Look at the State of Marketing

As always, there’s almost too much information to digest in Hubspot’s annual State of Marketing report. But that’s not going to stop me from highlighting the points you can use to bring more money into your business:

Website Upgrades Needed

According to the survey, 63% of respondents are looking to upgrade their websites in 2020. If you have experience in and enjoy doing website redesigns, hop on this opportunity as soon as you can.

Maintenance Pros Wanted

Sometimes it’s not the design that needs to be tweaked. Rather your clients would benefit from a technical tune-up along with ongoing maintenance.

When asked which tactics have been the most beneficial for improving a website’s performance and search ranking, here’s what respondents had to say:

Hubspot State of Marketing - Website Fixes

You could easily create a recurring revenue stream around these maintenance tasks.

Visual-Heavy Content Marketing is a Must

Marketers use a wide variety of content in their marketing strategies:

Hubspot State of Marketing - Content Types

If you’re in the business of building websites, you should also be helping your clients create graphics for the media above. For instance, you could provide ongoing design services for:

  • Blog (and promotional social media) graphics
  • Videos or just video cover images
  • Infographics
  • Templates for case studies, ebooks, and white papers

Just because your job is primarily to build high-converting websites for clients doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be looking for other ways to serve them.

 

The Coronavirus’s Impact on Freelancers

With so much news about the coronavirus out there, it’s hard to know what to focus your attention. If you’re a freelancer, then these are the statistics and research you should focus on:

Conferences Around the World Are Being Cancelled

Business Insider and the LA Times rounded up lists of conferences that have been cancelled, rescheduled, or restructured because of the coronavirus:

  • Adobe Summit (it’ll be online instead)
  • Facebook’s F8
  • Facebook’s Global Marketing Summit
  • EmTech Asia
  • Shopify Developer Conference
  • Google I/O
  • Google Cloud Next ‘20 (rescheduled as an online event)

And for those of you who work with WordPress, WordCamp Asia was cancelled.

WordCamp Asia Cancelled - Coronavirus

Considering how expensive and time-consuming professional design conferences can be to attend, these cancellations might not be as big of a disappointment to the freelance community. In fact, it might bring a change to the professional conference landscape, with more of them hosted virtually so that it becomes cheaper, more practical, and now safer to attend.

Some Freelance Gigs Are Drying Up

In particular, it’s Singapore’s population of freelancers that are feeling the effects of the coronavirus, according to a report from Vice.

It makes sense. As businesses close down their offices or their operations altogether, the contract workforce who works behind the scenes for them is going to be impacted as well. This is especially problematic for those who build ecommerce and retail websites. With many products manufactured in China (31.3% of all apparel and 37.6% of textiles are manufactured there, for instance), inventories are waning and many retailers are having to wait out the virus to resume operations. 

The Singapore government recently announced plans for its 2020 budget, which included contributing SG$800 million towards curbing the effects of the virus on the country. Additional support is to be given to industries the most severely affected by it as well.

While the country’s budget doesn’t account for freelancers (as I’m sure will be the case in other countries), the freelance community itself is stepping up.

Nicholas Chee, who runs a video production company in Singapore, started a Facebook group for freelancers who’ve been dealing with lost gigs as a result of the coronavirus. It’s called SG COVID-19 Creative/Cultural Professionals & Freelancers Support Group and is giving the freelance community a way to support each other through this crisis.

Web Designers May Be Able To Help Stop The Spread of Coronavirus

It’s not just Facebook groups that are going to help freelancers get through the coronavirus crisis in one piece. According to Dr. Stephanie Evergreen, web designers might actually be able to help slow down or stop the spread of the virus itself.

In an article she wrote for Fast Company, Dr. Evergreen, a data visualization specialist, demonstrates how more eye-catching graphics can better educate the public on what’s going on and what they can do.

For instance, she shares this graphic from the World Health Organization:

World Health Organization - MERS Cases Charts

While it more effectively lays out this data than a wall of text would, it’s not going to do much to capture anyone’s attention.

It’s more important than ever for public health agencies to use data visualization to communicate with the masses, as the public is bombarded with more information each day and in need of a way for the most pressing issues to cut through the noise.

Quantifiable data, instead, should be presented like this graphic from the Florida Department of Health

Florida Department of Health - Influenza Activity map and data

It does both a good job of capturing attention and informing the public of what’s going on.

Bottom line: if your website is tasked with communicating critical data to the public, see if there’s a way you can lend your design skills to it. While a writer can clearly communicate what’s going on, graphics are more likely to grab and hold their attention.

 

Wrap-Up

While annual “State of” reports always tend to wind down around February/March, we still have a wealth of data coming in that not only affects your design strategy but your business strategy too.

Keep your eyes peeled for the next edition of the latest research for web designers as we’re sure to see the first quarterly reports come out for design, marketing, SEO, and more.



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5 Non-design Skills Web Designers Need

Being a great designer isn’t the only skill you need to grow your career over the next decade. Here, we take a look at the top five skills you need to cultivate to be successful in the 2020s.

Whenever a company posts a job opening for a web design employee or freelancer, they typically include a set of hard and soft skills they’re looking for.

Hard skills are design skills that are measurable and well-documented. For instance:

  • A degree in a web design-related field;
  • Aptitude with Sketch or Photoshop;
  • Training in color theory and responsive design.

Your portfolio and résumé serve as proof of hard skills.

Soft skills, on the other hand, are non-design skills that make you a good person to work with, but aren’t as easy to verify. While an employer might list out the qualities they’re looking for, they’re often subjective or vague, like:

  • Meets deadlines;
  • Team player;
  • Goal-driven.

It’s easy to dismiss these kinds of soft skills because they seem arbitrary. Of course I have them, you think.

The truth is, real soft skills not only help you stand out from other web designers, but they affect how successful you’ll be in running your own business.

Let’s take a look at what the most important of these non-design skills are and how they’ll help you go farther in your career.

 

1. Sales

these kinds of sales skills allow you to build stronger relationships with prospects

It’s easy to equate sales with associates who approach you in stores asking if you need help, or with reps who call you to see how you’re feeling about the free trial of their product. The problem with that particular sales approach is that it often makes one product seem just as good as another: Oh, you didn’t like that style? Let me see if I can get you another.

For you, this isn’t about negotiation or compromise nor can it be a numbers game. When selling yourself as a web designer, what you really need to be skilled in is the following:

  • Knowing your niche so well that it’s easy to find your target clients;
  • Knowing what exactly their pain is so you can quickly get the conversation started;
  • Knowing how to position yourself before them as the solution.

For web designers, these kinds of sales skills allow you to build stronger relationships with prospects so they easily and inevitably become your clients.

That said, one of the sales skills you can borrow from professional sales people is the ability to let rejection roll right off your back. In other words, it’s going to be tough — especially early on — when prospects say, “no, thank you”. It’s natural to want to take it personally. Just keep in mind that once you perfect the right sales approach for your business, this’ll be something you have to deal with less and less.

 

2. Finance Management

You might be thinking that you’ll just offload your finances to software like QuickBooks or Xero or you’ll hire an accountant once you’re making enough money. But finance management skills go beyond being able to balance your profits and overhead costs.

There are a number of things you need to be able to do properly manage your cash flow. For example:

  • Research industry rates so you can set competitive prices. Then, be able to negotiate for higher rates with clients.
  • Confidently talk to prospects about your prices and convey the value of your services in a way that none of it is called into question.
  • Create business proposals and contracts containing critical details about your prices, fees, payment schedules, etc.
  • Be able to confront a client who hasn’t paid on time, assess late fees, and take action to track down non-paying clients.
  • Set and stick to budgets for your business and personal life so you don’t go crazy buying things you don’t need or spending money you don’t have yet.

Master these skills and profitability will never be an issue for you.

 

3. Project Management

Things are going to get very hectic for you the more clients you add to your roster and the more services you offer.

The easiest way to keep everything in order when you’re bootstrapping your business (i.e. doing it on your own) is to get really good at project and time management.

Here are some things you’ll need to be able to do to dominate this non-design skill:

  • Create processes — for yourself as well as your client projects;
  • Document your processes and keep them organized;
  • Use the right tools and resources to streamline it all;
  • Predict accurate timelines, set milestones, and deliver by them;
  • Monitor your time and stay focused.

What’s nice about this skill is that you can use a project management tool and templates to automate a lot of it. The only thing is, you have to first lay the groundwork with a solid process and system of your own.

 

4. Client Communication and Management

If you start your client relationships off on the right foot during the sale process, this skill will be an easy one to get the hang of since you’ll be working with the ideal client. Even if that isn’t always the case, you can still effectively navigate the sometimes rocky terrain of client relationships, it’ll just require extra patience.

Underpinning all of these skills is confidence

As for how you master client communication and management skills, keep the following in mind:

  • Take charge from the very get-go. You want to be able to earn their trust, command respect, and keep doubts from appearing at any point. This’ll keep your job free of scope creep, too.
  • Set boundaries. Let clients know what they can expect from you and when, but never let them overstep their bounds in terms of the limits you’ve set.
  • Speak their language. Clients don’t understand things like “CSS grid” or “responsive design”. Talk to them with words that make sense.
  • Be professional in every exchange. There’s no need to let your personal drama become a distraction nor should clients ever know about trouble brewing on other jobs. Stay on point.
  • Keep calm even when the client isn’t. If that means sitting on a nasty email for a few hours, so be it. It’s best to enter every conversation with a clear head.
  • Know when it’s time to listen and also be okay accepting fair criticism or feedback.

Underpinning all of these skills is confidence; confidence in what you do and confidence in being able to steer clients and projects in the direction they need to go.

 

5. Problem-Solving

As a web designer, you’re in the business of solving a very big problem: I need a website for my business, but don’t have the ability or time to do it myself.

That alone is a powerful skill, but we’re focusing on the non-design skills you need right now. So, think of other ways you will need to solve problems for your clients along the way.

For example, during the initial discovery call stage, your client might have a very specific problem like: I need an ecommerce website with 24/7 chatbot support.

you need to be able to think quickly and creatively on your feet

Would you know how to devise a solution for that request on the spot? If not, would you know exactly where to go to figure out how to do it? What’s more, would you be okay telling your client that you’re unsure right now, but promise to get an answer to them in the next day or two?

In other words, you need to be able to think quickly and creatively on your feet.

What about issues or requests that come up later? For instance: The button on the homepage doesn’t work anymore. Help!

Are you resourceful enough to be able to investigate the issue and fix it? If you’re really good at this particular skill, you could monetize it by offering website maintenance services. You’d need to pair vigilance and resourcefulness to make the most of it, but it’s totally possible to do if you’re a problem-solver by nature.

 

Start Mastering These Non-Design Skills Today

It’s not just your aptitude in web design that’s going to help you land new client after new client. If you want a steady influx of new clients willing to pay you top dollar to design their websites, then you’re going to have to flex these important non-design skills as well.

 

Featured image via Unsplash.



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The Latest Research for Web Designers Feb 2020

One of the most valuable resources you have as a web designer is data. Data informs a lot of what you do for clients, so why shouldn’t it do the same for your own business?

In the following roundup of the latest research for web designers, I’ve included reports and surveys that shed light on: The battle between mobile and desktop, Why so many websites keep getting hacked, What’s keeping ecommerce business owners awake at night, and What Google is now saying about mobile-first indexing.

 

Hootsuite Puts a Spotlight on Mobile

Although Hootsuite is a social media marketing tool, its Digital 2020 report (created in conjunction with We Are Social) reveals much more about the state of marketing as a whole than just social media.

As of January 2020, the total number of users has reached 4.5 billion. That’s a 7% growth from the same period in 2019.

A huge contributor of that growth is the increased adoption of Internet-connected devices all around the world:

Hootsuite Digital 2020 - Global Growth

This graphic alone demonstrates why it’s crucial for websites to be able to cater to a global user base and not just those in developed nations.

Another telling statistic from this report shows how much more Internet users are coming to rely on their mobile phones:

Hootsuite Digital 2020 - Web Traffic Device

Between December 2018 and December 2019, there was an 8.6% leap in the amount of mobile web traffic. Laptops and desktops shrunk in popularity during that same timeframe as did tablets, which saw a massive dip in usage.

It’s not just the amount of traffic on mobile vs. web that’s seen changes either. It’s the amount of time users spend on those devices. As a whole, consumers spend 6 hours and 43 minutes online every day; 3 hours and 22 minutes of which is from their mobile devices.

Key Takeaway

If you’re not already building progressive web apps for clients, 2020 may be the perfect time to learn how to do so. Not only do they provide a superior experience for mobile users, but they also are capable of serving users who may not have the best Internet connectivity or live in close proximity to your web servers.

 

Sucuri Reveals What Was Going on with Hacked Sites in 2019

The Sucuri Hacked Website Threat Report just came out with some interesting data on the state of web security.

Let’s start by looking at the integrity of the content management systems web designers commonly use:

Sucuri Report - Outdated Infected CMS

Out of all the infected websites Sucuri found last year, 56% of them had an outdated CMS. As you can see above, some users do a better job of protecting their core by updating their CMS technology. Others… not so much.

It’s not just content management systems that users are failing to update either. More than two-thirds have websites using PHP versions that are no longer supported (i.e. 5.x and 7.0).

Sucuri - PHP Versions

Then, there’s the fact that websites with vulnerabilities weren’t just found to have one vulnerability. 44% of vulnerable websites had at least two vulnerable components and 10% had four or more.

Considering this, it’s no surprise that once-infected websites have a tendency to be reinfected.

Key Takeaways

On average, Sucuri cleaned up 147 files and 232 database entries for every malware infection detected. Even if those numbers are improvements from previous years, think about how costly the cleanup is going to be for your clients if or when that happens to them.

So, rather than focus strictly on web design or development in the coming years, start thinking about how you can weave website security into the mix. Whether you want to provide maintenance services for live websites or you want to build security measures into a websites in development, it’s up to you.

But something needs to be done to fix this systemic issue.

 

A Better Lemonade Stand Shares Results from eCommerce Survey

For those of you working with ecommerce clients (or who want to), this survey from A Better Lemonade Stand is one to pay close attention to.

Right off the bat, the survey reveals that 62.1% of people who want to start an ecommerce business have yet to do so. As for why they haven’t, there are a variety of reasons given:

A Better Lemonade Stand - Why Not Start

Pay close attention to these reasons as you can use them to sell your ecommerce design services as a solution:

  • The monetary investment
  • A lack of know-how
  • A lack of time to do so

You can also use survey data from current ecommerce owners to better position your business before prospective clients:

A Better Lemonade Stand - eCommerce Struggles

Here you can see what ecommerce business owners report as their biggest struggles. Five of the top ten you can easily help them out with:

  • Getting traffic
  • Conversion optimization
  • Strategy & analytics
  • Branding & design
  • Operations & customer service (through the website, at least)

Key Takeaway

You can present ecommerce business owners in the making with a cost-effective done-for-you option as well as proof of how quickly you can get them an ROI (like with a case study) if they’re really worried about cost. They need to see how your expertise will save them time and make them more money in the long run.

The same goes for clients with existing businesses. You now know what their top concerns are. If you see a flailing ecommerce site, use this knowledge to get the conversation started and to pose your own solution. Again, just make sure you have proof to back up what you promise to do.

 

Google Updates Mobile-First Indexing Best Practices

Think you know all that you need to know to design a mobile-first website? Well, Google just updated its mobile-first indexing best practices.

Here’s a high-level overview of what the new best practices state:

  • If you’re using the robots metatag, make sure it’s the same for mobile and desktop.
  • Use the same URLs for your mobile and desktop sites.
  • Use the same content on mobile as you do on desktop. If you think there should be less content on mobile, just make sure that whatever is desktop-only isn’t critical for Google or visitors to know about as it won’t factor into indexing at all.

In other words, Google is strictly using mobile for the purposes of indexing. If you do anything that compromises what Google can scan on your mobile website, your rank will suffer as a result.

By keeping things consistent between mobile and desktop, you can reduce the chance of any issues arising.

Be sure to check out the full report for all of Google’s new recommendations. There’s information in there about what kinds of image and video formats to use along with information on lazy loading.

Key Takeaway

If you were adhering to Google’s former guidelines, it’s a good time to check back in with what it’s currently recommending. You may need to reconnect with old clients to let them know about the changes and to provide them with an update strategy.

 

Wrap-Up

There’s always new industry or consumer research that can help you do better work for your clients and make more money in the process. It’s just not always easy to keep your eyes peeled for it when you’re trying to focus on your job.

If you stay tuned to WebDesigner Depot each month, though, you’ll get a roundup of the latest research for web designers to give you a hand.

 

Featured image via Unsplash.



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