Recipe of a Winning Website

webdesign

An attractive design with an eye-catching theme matching the essence of a brand, head-turning headlines, big and bold images that become a major attention seeker – these are all the attributes that make a web design beautiful and a complete stunner.

But are these the only elements that matter? What about the nitty gritty parts of a website design that make it user-friendly? Will it create the hook for visitors and aid in conversions? What about the role of functionality?

They are, in actual, what makes a design beautiful in a glimpse. As a visitor goes further, what will really matter the most is the website’s functionality, the helpful navigation menu that will get him through, solid calls-to-action that will convert and various indicators that ensures security and trust. These stand as relevant answers to the questions asked above.

A stunning design could be an add-on to all of those mentioned above but never a primary concern. To ensure that all the web designers and entrepreneurs are on the same page regarding such essentials of design that makes it last longer than ever, we have gathered a list of 10 elements.

The infographic below clearly explains all the important elements that surround a quality design, what they mean, how they drive conversions, and why ignoring them could be a menace to your overall design. So take a look at this information-rich infographic below, make notes from them, understand them and implement them in your next website designing endeavors to rather make it a winning website that stands out – not because of its beauty but largely because of its functionality.

winning website

http://www.dubaimonsters.ae/blog/infographics/recipe-of-a-winning-website/

Improve Your Website’s Performance With These Photo Optimization Tips

stopwatch

Much has been written lately about slow page loading times on news websites. People are increasingly consuming news on mobile devices, often with limited bandwidth.

Earlier this year, Google announced that they now use “mobile-friendliness” as a ranking signal in mobile search results and even adding an extra second or two of load time has been shown to increase abandonment rates on websites.

Sites that aren’t optimizing for performance on all devices and connection speeds are limiting their own audience growth. Every time someone can’t find your site or they’re too impatient to wait for a page to load, you’re losing a potential reader.

Fortunately, the INN Nerds aren’t content to just complain about it, we’re here to help fix it!

Let’s Start with Photos

The average web page now weighs in at just under 2 MB, and images are the main culprit. Photos on the web are essential elements of storytelling and connecting with your audience. But if your photos aren’t optimized, they can also weigh down your web pages and make them slow to load. To improve the overall performance of your website, photo optimization is a great place to start.

What is Photo Optimization

Photo optimization involves compressing the file size of photo using a tool like Adobe Photoshop. We want the highest quality photo with the smallest possible file size. Too much compression can impair the quality of the image. Too little compression can result in a large photo file size which slows the performance of our web page. Optimization is finding the right balance between quality and file size.

Consider these two images:

Photo of Delicate Arch

Not Optimized. Width: 1200px, Height: 800px, File Size: 939 Kilobytes

Delicate Arch in Arches National Park

Optimized. Width: 1200px, Height: 800px, File Size: 107 Kilobytes

The second photo has a file size of less than 12 percent of the first. You can probably see a slight degradation in the photo quality. But most people would not notice the difference between these two on a web page.

On the web we should never use any photo with a file size like 939 Kilobytes. This will slow the loading of the page, especially on slower connections and mobile devices. We want to keep website photos under 100 KB if we can, and much lower for smaller images. For example, here’s the same photo reduced in dimensions:

Delicate Archive in Arches National Park

Not Optimized. Width: 300px, Height: 200px, File Size: 192 Kilobytes

Delicate Arch in Arches National Park

Optimized. Width: 300px, Height: 200px, File Size: 14 Kilobytes

The file size of the second photo is less that 10 percent of the first image, yet most people would see no difference in photo quality. If you have a web page displaying a number of similar-sized images, for example a gallery page or a series of stories with thumbnail images, smaller photo file sizes can add up a huge reduction in page loading time.

How to Optimize Photos in Photoshop

Best practice for optimization is to start with the highest-quality source photo, then resize and compress it for the web. Start by cropping and resizing the photo for the space it will fill on your web page. If the photo will be displayed in a sidebar widget that’s 300px wide, there’s no reason to upload a photo wider than 300px for that space. Reducing the size of the photo by itself will reduce its file size.

After the photo is cropped and sized, in the File menu go to Export -> Save for Web:

Save for Web dialogue box in Photoshop

Here you can select which photo format to export (always use JPEG for photos), and how much compression to apply. Medium is often the optimum setting, but this is a judgement call. If you don’t see a preview of both the Original photo and the JPEG export, click the 2-Up tab at the top. Now you can try different compression settings and see a preview of the results, including the file size:

Optimized image in Save for Web dialogue in Photoshop

Once you’re happy with the image quality and file size reduction, click Save to create your web-optimized photo. This will not affect your original image, which should be archived for possible use in the future..

Tip: If you like keyboard shortcuts, in Photoshop you can launch Save for Web like this:

  • Command + Shift + Option + s (Mac)
  • Control + Shift + Alt + s (Windows)

Optimizing Photos without Photoshop

If you don’t use Photoshop, there are any number of other tools for optimizing website images.

Compressor.io is a free online tool. You can drag and drop a source photo into it, and download a compressed version of the image. Compressor.io doesn’t have any cropping or resizing tools, and you can’t adjust the amount of compression. In our tests, Photoshop does a better job of balancing photo quality and file size. But if you have a photo sized correctly for your website, it’ll do in a pinch.

If you’re comfortable using the command line, there are a number of tools available to you for optimizing different image types.

Your Photo Workflow

If you’ve produced photos for print, you know it’s important to maintain the highest quality photo throughout the process. But with today’s cameras, the highest quality photo is likely to be 5000 pixels wide, and more than 20 Megabytes in file size. Such a photo is great for print, but a problem on the web.

Best practice is to safely store the original photo files in their highest resolution, for the day when you need to resize or reuse them in another context. Use the original photos to crop, size, and export for the web, then keep the originals safe for future use.

https://nerds.inn.org/2015/11/23/improving-website-performance-optimizing-photos/

Starting a New Business? Here’s 9 Top Ways to Find New Customers Online

CartoonBusinessManSo you’re taking the plunge and starting a new business, but you’re not experienced at marketing so need help gaining customers?

Naturally we would suggest that creating a new website should be your first step towards building your online presence, but if you’ve already got that far what else can you do to generate sufficient leads?

The team and Find New Customers share their top 9 tips in this infographic.

Starting a New Business Here’s 9 Top Ways to Find New Customers Online

https://blog.red-website-design.co.uk/2016/05/03/starting-a-new-business-heres-9-top-ways-to-find-new-customers-online/

20 Ways to Effectively Market Your Small Business

MarketingIdeas

Marketing is an afterthought for most small business owners. Between trying to manage employees and keep customers happy, small businesses owners usually don’t have the time create and implement a marketing campaign that drives brand engagement, generates leads, and boosts sales. Because we live in a digital age, we’re going to focus on the top online marketing strategies that you can use to promote and effectively market your small business.

Let’s dig in.

1. Start an Email Marketing List

Starting an email marketing list may sound difficult, but it’s really not. Think about all of the emails you receive from companies and brands, and then think about how they acquired that information from you—it was likely through an online promotion or a form on their website where they incentivized you to sign up. Hey, you’ve got to give a little to get a little.

2. Use that Email Marketing List

Email marketing is one of the quickest and most effective ways to drive business. Think about it for a second; you’re delivering targeted messages straight to your customers’ inboxes, and you’re reaching them on their mobile device if they’re on the go. More importantly, it’s a completely free strategy that can deliver big results if your emails are engaging and your call to action is strong.

3. Focus On User Experience

It doesn’t matter if you’re an eCommerce company selling trendy socks or a SaaS company trying to collect data and then cold call—if your website isn’t easy to navigate you’ve already lost the business. Think about the user. Does your website make it easy to find a product or service and then purchase it or inquire about it? The user always comes first, and you need to put yourself in their shoes and make sure that your site is easy to maneuver. 

4. Make Yourself Look the Part

While we’re on the subject of your website, it doesn’t look like it was built in the ’90s, does it? User experience is the priority, but design is a close second. Your website should feature full frame imagery and a progressive, clean look that makes your company look like the leader in your industry, even if you’re a startup. 

5. Use Social to Communicate

A lot of people get caught up using social media to shove their products and services in front of their fan base, and that can be a definite turnoff. Sure, social is an effective way to drive sales, but you should focus on using your social networks to engage with your followers and communicate with them. Ask them questions, and then use that feedback to put out a better product and improve your process.

6. Don’t Let SEO Fall by the Wayside

There’s a lot to think about when you’re developing your marketing plan, but one thing you can’t afford to let slip is your search engine optimization (SEO). As Google continues to make its algorithm changes, it’s a necessity that you adhere to those changes and optimize your website accordingly so that you can obtain—and ultimately maintain—your high organic rankings. 

7. Write Great Content

A big part of Google’s ranking algorithm for SEO is content. The search engine giant wants to see that your website is consistently publishing informational and educational content that’s meaningful. With everyone now putting more effort into content, you need to make sure that yours engages the reader and provides them with some sort of value. Don’t write good content—it has to be great. 

8. Make Your Followers Feel Special

There’s nothing worse than being a consumer and feeling like you don’t matter to a brand, especially if you consider yourself loyal to that brand. If you want to keep your followers happy and engaged, reward them with sweepstakes, promotions, and giveaways to show them you care and that you’re not all about the sale (even if you are).

9. Use Paid Search

Paid search, also known as PPC, can be a daunting strategy for a lot of small business owners because there’s a lot to learn and understand. From CPCs and CTRs to conversion rates and quality score, PPC can be confusing, but if you work with a specialist or hire an agency, it can work wonders for your business. SEO can take months—even years—to get to the top of Google, but with paid search, you can be on top of Page 1 within a couple of hours.

10. Have an Editorial Calendar

We talked about the importance of putting out great content, but knowing when that content is going to be published is just as important. Having an editorial calendar will keep your content initiatives in order and will assure that you’re serving as the hub of information for your small business. 

11. Deploy Remarketing

Remarketing, also called retargeting, is a form of paid search that helps you stay in front of potential customers and stay top of mind. In short, how it works is that you cookie your website visitors’ browsers (using a snippet of code pulled from your PPC platform), which then allows you to follow them around the Internet with targeted advertisements as they visit other sites on the Web. Sound creepy? Maybe a little, but you’ll probably change your mind once you see the data behind it.

12. Audit Your Competition

Look at your most successful competitor and really take a look at what they’re doing on all cylinders: website, organic search, paid search, social media, email, etc. Use tools like SpyFu to analyze the competition, collect as much data as you can, and then use all of that information to mirror what they’re doing, but do it better.

13. Use Video

Did you know that YouTube is the second-largest search network in the world? If you didn’t, now you do, and you should now realize how important video is to your business. Video can help you educate users better than you ever could through your blog content, and video is also another signal that Google factors into its ranking algorithm for SEO. Use video for new product launches and walkthroughs, and host that video on your website and push it across your social channels.

14. List Your Business on Local Directories

Online local business directories like Google Plus Local and Bing/Yahoo Local will help people close to your business find you faster. Make sure you optimize those listings with a business description, accurate hours, and of course your address. Link the directory to your website and you’ll get the added benefit of referral traffic.

15. Pay to Play on Social Media

Your organic posts on social networks such as Facebook don’t show as far out to your fans and followers as they once did, which is why you need to put some dollars behind your social media efforts. It’s not to say you need to pay for every post, but if you have an important announcement or an event coming up, throw some money behind it and choose your customized targeting to hit your desired demographic. Platforms like Facebook and Twitter have amazing targeting options and analytics so that you can measure the effectiveness of your campaign. 

16. Use Google Analytics

If you don’t have Google Analytics on your website, stop what you’re doing, go to www.google.com/analytics, and get the tracking code on your website ASAP. Google Analytics is a digital marketer’s dream, showing you a plethora of data, including where your website users are coming from, how long they’re staying on the website, which pages they’re visiting the most, and most importantly, if they’re purchasing your products or services. You, or someone from your company, should be looking at this data a few times per week, at the minimum.

17. Make Sure Your Website is Mobile Optimized

We’ve all heard how important mobile is, and if your website isn’t optimized for mobile devices, you’re missing the boat on a ton of traffic, and probably leaving a lot of business on the table. It used to be that having a mobile site was a luxury, but now it’s essentially a requirement, especially when you consider the fact that Google has publicly stated that not having a mobile optimized website will affect your SEO (dubbed “Mobilegeddon“).

18. Offer Discounts

Everyone loves knowing that they’re getting some sort of discount—even if it’s five percent. Make sure that you let it be known that you’re offering a discount by promoting it on your website, through social media, and via your email blasts. Again, you may have to give a little away to get something in return, but your margins should still be there.

19. Focus on Reviews

Reviews play a huge role in digital marketing. People love to read reviews and get other people’s opinions, so you should develop a strategy to solicit reviews from your past customers. Maybe it’s a personal email from the founder of the business or an incentive for leaving a positive review on platforms like Facebook, Google+, and Yelp, but either way, positive reviews need to find their way into your marketing strategy.

20. Listen to Your Customers

Sounds easy, right? Well, yes, but you’ve got to remember to do it. Your customers give you a different perspective, and they often have great feedback for small business owners on what they can do to improve. Make sure you’re monitoring the comments on your social media profiles and have a section of your website where visitors can email you comments/feedback. You’re never going to get it 100% right off the bat, so let your customers lend a hand.

Conclusion:

Without some type of marketing strategy in place, you can have a great business, but people aren’t going to know about it. These are the current digital marketing strategies that small business are utilizing to increase brand awareness and boost their customer base. 

http://www.socialmediatoday.com/marketing/peteschauer/2015-05-23/20-ways-effectively-market-your-small-business

Guide to Creating Visual Content for Social Media

Fields of flowers in the mountainsPosting visual content is one of the most important things you can do to improve your social media strategy.

A successful social strategy will often include photos, videos, and screenshots of infographics or other graphs.
 
But posting visual content for the sake of posting visual content isn’t the best way to optimize your presence on social media. It’s important that your visual content be compelling, relevant, and correctly formatted.
 
To help you create visual content your followers will love, QuickSprout created the infographic below. It’ll teach you the major types of visual content, the best tools you can use to create original visuals, and tips on creating the most compelling, aesthetically pleasing designs.
 
creating-visually-appealing-content-infographic
 
 

7 Tips to Boost Your Site’s Conversion Rate Using Images

Images not only add life to a website, they also make it convert better. People no longer want to browse a website – they want to experience it. Using the right images can boost your site’s conversions and get you to connect better with your target audience.

However, you still find many websites unaware of the importance of images when it comes to getting the most out of existing traffic. Below are some proven tips to help you boost your conversion rate by intelligently using images throughout your website.

Tip 1 – Emotions Rule

Many people buy for emotional reasons. If you make them feel just right, they’ll take action. The same rule applies when choosing images for your site. A positive image brings out positive emotions. It could be a smile, a smirk or a gesture. Emotions are powerful, and they work.

Your customers and prospects aren’t stupid. They know what you’re trying to convey, they see it. Make them feel good, happy, proud, wanted – they’ll agree with you and connect better. The perks of leveraging emotions can be very powerful, but it’s how you do it that matters.

human touch homepage conversionsHuman Touch is a company that sells massage and wellness products. Their website very intelligently uses images to convey their message. They’re not only showing the product, but are also letting their customers get a feel of it.

The image used here clearly expresses joy and happiness. It gives their prospects a fair idea of what they can be experiencing. They could have simply shown pictures of the chair without someone using it, but they took it a step further to show the relaxing effect of the product.

Tip 2 – Consider Using A Mascot

Ever noticed your favorite site with a little cartoon? Site mascots are highly popular these days. Websites and blogs are using them for branding. They are being used to create a bonding experience with the visitors. They’re helping sites create a strong image in their audience’s mind. But how does a mascot help you convert better? Here are a few ways:

I. A mascot can solidify your marketing motif.

seomoz moz bot mascotII. A mascot can have a much more memorable branding effect:

western exterminator co mascotIII. It’s much easier to create a desired emotional effect:

mailchimp connected mascot

Look around, you’ll find sites with various types of mascots. Most of these sites are successful. And it doesn’t even cost you a lot to get it done for your site. Lots of creative designers out there will agree to create one for you at an affordable price.

mailchimp homepage image and conversionsIf you’re an online marketer, you should know Mail Chimp – a highly successful email marketing service. The company has managed to capture a fair share of the market in a short span of time. And that’s largely due to the quality of their service and the impactful imagery used in their branding.

Tip 3 – Give Your Images A Human Touch

Boost your website’s conversion rate by using human faces. They get your prospects to focus more and this causes them to draw towards a common point of interest. It doesn’t get more real than that.

Medalia Art is a site that sells art. Nothing spectacular about that, but the photo versus painting test they did is worth noticing. The website, which is an online art shop, presents paintings from various artists right on their homepage. During their A/B testing, they swapped the paintings with the photo of the artist. Their aim was to have an increased user engagement.

Medalia Art Image Conversion Experiment

Paintings swapped with human photos.

Making this small but relevant change sent their conversion rate through the roof – something they didn’t expect. Their site experienced a whopping 95% increase in conversions!.

Tip 4 – Think Out Of The Box

Today’s technology allows you to do so much more – leverage it.  You are only limited by your imagination. People want to see something new, even on websites. Make your website scream “I’m different” with your images.

due maternity product conversionsDue Maternity, an online retailer targeted towards pregnant women, knows what it means to think out of the box. In order to give their prospects a real feel of their products, they did something unique. Using advanced “dynamic image technology”, the website used images that you can spin around – 360 degrees.

The result? The pages that had these rotating images outperformed the standard two dimensional ones. And their conversion rate for these particular products increased by 27% – all because of a simple twist.

Tip 5 – Show Validation

What makes TV commercials work? Models, actors, and random people are shown using the product. Praising it, loving it, and going bonkers. That’s what make these commercials tick. But the more important question is: Why does this work?

It’s simple – people want a third opinion. They want to feel safe before buying something/anything. They want to be convinced. They don’t want to make a wrong decision. When they see others happy with a product, they get convinced.

If your website has pictures of your happy customers, your conversion grows. It’s a natural process that will never change. Add a dash of testimonials along with their pictures and voila – chances are your conversion rate will automatically go up.

infusion soft homepage conversionsInfusionsoft is a company that sells a complete sales and marketing software tool for small businesses. Their website is professional and well placed. They’ve strategically used images of customers along with their testimonials on their homepage.

They didn’t hide their customer photos somewhere deep down. Why? Because they know how to make their prospects feel at home by showing how trustworthy their product is. Something that’s essential to grow your conversion rate.

Tip 6 – It’s About THEM, Not You

If you want a higher conversion rate, perfect the art of choosing images. Your prospects are interested in themselves. He or she doesn’t care about your product or company. It’s the ‘me’ factor that ultimately does the magic. Show your visitors they are on the right track. Make them feel comfortable. Get them to experience what you want them to. That will open up doors and get more people to like you – buy from you.

coconut bliss homepage conversionsCoconut Bliss sells ice cream. But they’re different, they’re approach is new. Their product looks and feels more personal than commercial. They call it the evolution of ice cream.

This reflects in their website’s design, and the images they used. A very natural picture of a couple enjoying their ice cream. The pictures used on their homepage are relevant and professionally done. If you’re an ice-creamoholic you’d be very interested in what they’re offering. Just because the site uses the right pictures to communicate the right ideas. They didn’t use any pictures to ‘decorate’ their site, but meaningful ones.

Tip 7 – Stop Using Bad Stock Photos

The 90’s are gone. The web 1.0 era has ended. This is the social age of the Internet. People don’t look at the web like they used to. They’re more connected than ever. And educated. What does that have to do with images and conversions?

People can tell if you’ve used a cheesy stock photos.

They used to be a rage back then, but not now. Your prospects will know you’re trying to fool them with people shaking hands in suits.

So in order to get a higher conversion rate today, you need to do the opposite. Choose stock photos intelligently – even if you have to spend more money.

Your site has to look professional enough to convert better. If the stock photos you go for look obvious, you get a thumbs down from your visitors. Not good. Your aim should be to send a positive message to your audience. Be smart and go for stock photos that you know will be right for your site, in every way.

mcafee homepage imageWho isn’t familiar with McAfee, provider of security and anti-virus solutions? Do you see how they’ve used an overpowering image on their homepage? Something that not only relates to their message, but also looks professional.

What they used is a high quality image, which may or may not be a stock photo, but it does not look staged, or cheesy. It looks real and authentic, and is adding real substance to the site. Bottom line: using the right stock photos on your own site can make a difference to your conversion rate.

Don’t Forget To Test Your Changes

The tips described above are to help you get headed in the right direction. Whenever you feel it’s time to make a change to your website, be sure to test your changes with testing software.

https://blog.kissmetrics.com/boost-conversions-using-images/

8 SEO Trends for 2016: How to Achieve Google Success

2016 has arrived, it’s time to take stock of what worked and what didn’t in 2015, and then decide where to spend your time and money throughout 2016.We recently shared infographics about how video marketing and User Generated Content (UGC) were expected to continue their huge growth, and they are both predicted to be hot in 2016 by ZenContent. Find out what else is tipped to make the difference in 2016 in their infographic below.
8 SEO Trends for 2016 How to Achieve Google Success Next Year
http://blog.red-website-design.co.uk/2015/12/18/8-seo-trends-for-2016-how-to-achieve-google-success-next-year/

The Benefits of Business Blogs for Marketing

Why you should use blogging as a marketing tactic.

1) It Helps Drive Traffic to Your Website.

Raise your hand if you want more website visitors. Yeah, me too. Now think about the ways people find your website:
  • They could type your name right in to their browser, but that’s an audience you already have. They know who you are, you’re on their radar, and that doesn’t help you get more traffic on top of what you’re already getting.
  • You could pay for traffic by buying an email list (don’t you dare!), blasting them, and hoping some people open and click through on the emails. But that’s expensive and, you know, illegal.
  • You could pay for traffic by placing tons of paid ads, which isn’t illegal, but still quite expensive. And the second you run out of money, your traffic stops coming, too.
So, how can you drive any traffic? In short: blogging, social media, and search engines. Here’s how it works. Think about how many pages there are on your website. Probably not a ton, right? And think about how often you update those pages. Probably not that often, right? (How often can you really update your About Us page, you know?) Well, blogging helps solve both of those problems. Every time you write a blog post, it’s one more indexed page on your website, which means it’s one more opportunity for you to show up in search engines and drive traffic to your website in organic search. We’ll get into more of the benefits of blogging on your SEO a bit later, but it’s also one more cue to Google and other search engines that your website is active and they should be checking in frequently to see what new content to surface.
Blogging also helps you get discovered via social media. Every time you write a blog post, you’re creating content that people can share on social networks — Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, Pinterest — which helps expose your business to a new audience that may not know you yet.
Blog content also helps keep your social media presence going — instead of asking your social media manager to come up with brand new original content for social media (or creating that content yourself), your blog can serve as that repository of content. You’re strengthening your social reach with blog content and driving new website visitors to your blog via your social channels. Quite a symbiotic relationship, if I do say so myself. So, the first benefit of blogging? It helps drive new traffic to your website and works closely with search engines and social media to do that.  
blogging-inbound
   

2) It Helps Convert that Traffic into Leads.

Now that you have traffic coming to your website through your blog, you have an opportunity to convert that traffic into leads. Just like every blog post you write is another indexed page, each post is a new opportunity to generate new leads. The way this works is really simple: Just add a lead-generating call-to-action to every blog post. Often, these calls-to-action lead to things like free ebooks, free whitepapers, free fact sheets, free webinars, free trials … basically, any content asset for which someone would be willing to exchange their information. To be super clear for anyone unfamiliar with how traffic-to-lead conversions work, it’s as simple as this:  
  • Visitor comes to website
  • Visitor sees call-to-action for a free offer
  • Visitor clicks call-to-action and gets to a landing page, which contains a form for them to fill in with their information
  • Visitor fills out form, submits information, and receives the free offer
  If you scroll down in this blog post, you’ll see a call-to-action button. In fact, 99.9% of the blog posts we publish have call-to-action buttons … and yours should, too. That is how you turn that traffic coming to your blog into leads for your sales team.
blogging-inbound-image
 
Note: Not every reader of your blog will become a lead. That’s okay. No one converts 100% of the people who read their blog into leads. Just get blogging, put calls-to-action on every blog post, set a visitor-to-lead conversion rate benchmark for yourself, and strive to improve that each month.  

3) It Helps Establish Authority.

The best business blogs answer common questions their leads and customers have. If you’re consistently creating content that’s helpful for your target customer, it’ll help establish you as an authority in their eyes. This is a particularly handy tool for Sales and Service professionals. Can you imagine the impact of sending an educational blog post you wrote to clear things up for a confused customer? Or how many more deals a salesperson could close if their leads discovered blog content written by their salesperson? “Establishing authority” is a fluffy metric — certainly not as concrete as traffic and leads, but it’s pretty powerful stuff. And if you need to tie the impact of blogging to a less fluffy metric, consider measuring it the same way you measure sales enablement. Because at the end of the day, that’s what many of your blog posts are. Think about the sales enablement opportunities blogging presents:  
  • If prospects find answers to their common questions via blog posts written by people at your company, they’re much more likely to come into the sales process trusting what you have to say because you’ve helped them in the past — even before they were interested in purchasing anything from you.
  • Prospects that have been reading your blog posts will typically enter the sales process more educated on your place in the market, your industry, and what you have to offer. That makes for a far more productive sales conversation than one held between two relative strangers.
  • Salespeople who encounter specific questions that require in-depth explanation or a documented answer can pull from an archive of blog posts. Not only do these blog posts help move the sales process along more swiftly than if a sales rep had to create the assets from scratch, but the salesperson is further positioned as a helpful resource to their prospect.
 

 

4) It Drives Long-Term Results.

You know what would be cool? If any of the following things helped you drive site traffic and generate new leads:
  • Trip to Hawaii
  • Going to the gym
  • Sleeping
Good news, though! That’s what blogging does — largely through search engines. Here’s what I mean: Let’s say you sit down for an hour and write and publish a blog post today. Let’s say that blog post gets you 100 views and 10 leads. You get another 50 views and 5 leads tomorrow as a few more people find it on social media and some of your subscribers get caught up on their email and RSS. But after a couple days, most of the fanfare from that post dies down and you’ve netted 150 views and 15 leads. It’s not done. That blog post is now ranking in search engines. That means for days, weeks, months, and years to come, you can continue to get traffic and leads from that blog post. So while it may feel like day one or bust, in reality, blogging acts more like this:
blogging_compounding_returns-1-1
 
So while you’re hitting your snooze alarm, surfing in Hawaii, and pumping iron, you’re also driving traffic and leads. The effort you put in yesterday can turn into hundreds of thousands of views and leads in the future. In fact, about 70% of the traffic each month on this very blog comes from posts that weren’t published in the current month. They come from old posts. Same goes for the leads generated in a current month — about 90% of the leads we generate every month come from blog posts that were published in previous months. Sometimes years ago. We call these types of blog posts “compounding” posts. Not every blog post will fit into this category, but the more evergreen blog posts you write, the more likely it is that you’ll land on one of those compounding blog posts. In our own research, we’ve found that about 1 in every 10 blog posts end up being compounding blog posts.
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To me (and hopefully to you), this demonstrates the scalability of business blogging. While you might not see immediate results, over time, you’ll be able to count on a predictable amount of traffic and leads for your business without any additional resource investment — the work to generate that traffic and those leads is already done.

Secondary Benefits of Business Blogging

There are other reasons businesses might want to blog, but I think they’re smaller and stray from the core benefits of blogging. For instance, I love to use our blog to test out big campaigns on the cheap — before we invest a lot of money and time into their creation. I also love to use our blog to help understand our persona better. And while this shouldn’t be their primary use, blogs also become great outlets through with marketers can communicate other PR-type important information — things like product releases or event information. It’s certainly easier to get attention for more company-focused initiatives if you’ve built up your own audience on your own property, as opposed to pitching your story to journalists and hoping one of them bites. These are all great side effects or uses of a business blog, but they’re secondary benefits to me. If you’re looking to start a business blog or get more investment for one you’ve already started, the reasons above are a great place to start arguing your case. http://blog.hubspot.com/marketing/the-benefits-of-business-blogging-ht

9 Web Design Tips for 2016: How to Cater for Every Type of Visitor

In the pyramid of factors affecting exposure, one of the core elements is shutter speed. Each factor comes with its idiosyncracies and shutter speed is no exception. Just as the ISO and aperture can make or break a photo, shutter speed plays an essential role in the resulting image.

What is Shutter Speed?

On all DSLRs (and many mirrorless cameras) with a mechanical shutter, there is a shutter curtain right in front of the sensor. This curtain opens and closes with each picture taken. When the shutter curtain is open, light reaches the sensor, creating the image. Shutter speed is basically the amount of time for which the curtain remains open.

The Shutter Speed Range

Setting your camera to default mode (not Bulb) will allow you to record a shutter speed of up to 30 seconds. The shortest possible shutter speed depends on the camera model and it ranges from 1/1000 to 1/8000 of a second. The shorter the shutter speed, the less light will reach the sensor.

Photo by Ryan McKee

If you want shutter speeds longer than 30 seconds, you’ll have to use the Bulb mode on the camera (often marked with just a “B”). This lets you set some extremely long exposures. The only downside is that you’ll have to keep the shutter release button pressed all the way down for the duration you want your exposure to be. This will introduce shake if you do it on the camera itself, but it’s really easy if you use a remote shutter cable. Obviously, you’ll need a tripod to do this.

The Effects of Different Shutter Speeds

Shutter speed is one of the main factors affecting image sharpness. Motion is just about inevitable. Sometimes the issue may be a shaky hand because you’re not using a tripod and many times the motion is the fault of your subject. Fast shutter speeds will take care of that as the faster the shutter speed is, the sharper the image is going to be. Because faster shutter speeds freeze motion, they can even be used creatively for a vast range of scenarios. Bullet time photos, for example, are done with fast shutter speeds.

Photo by Max Schrader

You can use a slower shutter speed to intentionally add motion to a photo. Use slower shutter speeds to add motion blur, do panning, create light painting images, track star trails, and so forth. When using longer shutter speeds, everything that moves will gradually leave a trace of light (or shadow) in the image.


Photo by darkday

When shooting landscapes on tripods, especially with full frame cameras, keep in mind that the mirror flipping up before the shutter is released often creates some vibration that can affect the sharpness of the photo. When possible, use mirror lockup which will raise the mirror before releasing the shutter curtain. The time between raising the mirror and releasing the curtain is longer, thus eliminating the vibration.

The Shutter Speed vs. Focal Length Rule Of Thumb

As mentioned earlier, longer shutter speeds are prone to producing blurry images due to movement. Fortunately, you can easily remember a simple rule-of-thumb for making your photos as sharp as possible: double the focal length to determine the minimum shutter speed that should accompany it. So if you are using a 100mm lens, then the minimal shutter speed of your hand-held would 1/200th of a second. If the lens has a built-in stabilizer, then it’s best to set the minimum at half of the focal length. This being the case, a 100mm image stabilized lens would put the recommended minimum shutter speed at around 1/50th of a second.

Photo by Giuseppe Milo

Shutter Curtain Actuations

The shutter assembly is the one thing that wears down with usage. After a certain number of shots, it can fail and need replacing. This applies to every camera with a shutter curtain. For the entry level DSLRs, the shutter is rated for around 100,000 actuations. Midrange cameras and most of the professional-grade cameras are rated for about 150,000 shutter actuations while the highest grade cameras (Canon 1Dx, Nikon 4Ds, Canon 7D Mark II, and so on) are rated for around 200,000 actuations. When the shutter fails, it doesn’t mean that your camera is dead – the shutter just has to be replaced. This usually costs much less than buying a new camera.


The Anatomy of a Perfect Checkout Page

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So you’ve spent time, money and effort creating your online shop. Your landing page is engaging, your product descriptions are tempting and your product photos are spot on. You have a steady stream of traffic coming to your site – but are your sales figures matching up?

If not, it might be time to optimize your checkout process.

Your checkout process is that last hurdle before visitors into customers, so it’s crucial to get it right. According to the Baymard Institute, 68.83% of online shopping carts are abandoned. That’s a huge missed opportunity that could potentially be recovered.

So what makes the perfect checkout page?

Perfection varies according to your product and audience. Imagine buying a high-end designer item versus buying office stationery. You’ll want to dwell over one purchase while pay using a one-click button for the other. No two eCommerce websites are alike, and so no two checkout processes should be either.

The only way to find your own version of ‘perfection’ is to continuously test to see what works. It’s imperative to explore the possibilities in a planned way – with A/B testing.

You simply create an alternative version of  your checkout page and compare it against the original to see which produces the best results. The benefit of testing is that you get data that tells you which version works better before committing to any major changes. A/B tests can be as simple as changing a few words to altering the entire layout.

Here are some ideas to get started:

Test for Checkout Page Usability

  • Is the information ordered logically?
  • Are instructions on forms clear?
  • Are there any distractions?
  • Is the text big enough?

Test for Psychological Triggers on Checkout Page

  • Are there visual cues of security?
  • Is the progress bar obvious enough?
  • Are the images large enough?
  • Does the colour scheme work?

VWO’s repository of over 150 case studies is a good starting point for those who want to see what others are testing. But every retailer is different – so look at your own findings and data to see what you should try.

Fine-tuning the checkout process takes time and experimentation. Get it right and you’ll end up with happy customers who will be coming back for more. Get it wrong and your tests will only point you in the right direction.

We’ve put together this handy infographic that pinpoints the key elements to a successful checkout page which can help when planning your testing process. Don’t rely on luck and guesses – test, plan and strategically experiment with your process to ensure your sales match up with your web traffic.

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https://vwo.com/blog/anatomy-perfect-checkout-page/