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Why Do You Need a User Journey Map? 7 Clear Benefits of Customer Journey Mapping
How precisely does a user journey map help you improve the user experience on your website/app? What are the benefits of customer journey mapping?  Should you expect a direct impact on your conversion rate? In other words, why would you bother creating one? In this post, I've listed the 7 best answers (or “benefits”, if you wish) to your legitimate question: “Why use customer journey mapping?” 1. But First: What Is a User Journey Map? What exactly is a customer journey? And why should you bother... mapping it? It's a timeline that shows all the touch points between the user and your website or application, along with the emotions, motivations, and thoughts that he/she experiences at each step of the process. A shorter “definition” would be: A user journey map is the visualization of an individual's relationship/experience with your website/app across different channels that he uses to interact with it, over time. Does this answer your question: “What is user journey mapping in design thinking?” With this map at hand, it becomes easier for you to... locate the weak spots, where you need to improve the user experience... Too many teams focus almost exclusively on the user experience at the top and on the bottom of the sales funnel and underestimate the steps in the middle. So, they ignore precisely those touchpoints that drive conversions...  2. Why Use User Journey Mapping? Top 7 Benefits What's the purpose?  Why and when to use a user journey map? What design problems does it help you solve? Here are 7 strong reasons why you'd want to bother mapping users' journey on your website: 2.1. It urges you to adopt a more user-centric approach to web design In short, you get to see your website/app through the user's eyes. From his/her point of view. You step into the user's shoes, see how the user interacts with your site, and detect those areas of the user experience that... could be better. 2.2. It helps you answer your “What if...?” questions In other words, with all the valuable information of a customer journey map at hand, you're free to brainstorm ideas. To plan new features, ambitious updates for your website that would: improve the user experience increase engagement with your website and eventually... boost conversions 2.3. It enables you to make strategic recommendations backed up by UX data Are you monitoring quantitative KPI metrics in your company? If so, then a user journey map will help you back all your future recommendations for improving your site's performance with user experience data. 2.4. It helps you see where exactly your website doesn't meet the user's expectations By mapping the customer journey, you get to detect those specific systems and processes — part of the user's journey on your website — that are not aligned with his/her expectations. And to address these inconveniences that are costing you sales. 2.5. It helps you identify opportunities and pain points in the user experience Opportunities that, otherwise, you might just... overlook. And which you can now tap into for... further research (the “what if” question, remember?) A customer journey map helps you visualize both successes —  where your website performs best from a UX standpoint — and areas where you could make an impact. 2.6. It gives you a realistic picture of the user experience on your website Maybe you're convinced that you're doing a great job, yet users are having a really bad experience.  Mapping the user journey will provide you a realistic evaluation of the situation from the user's perspective. 2.7. It helps you evaluate the impact of the changes that you make to your website A user journey map makes a great tool for measuring the impact of the updates that you make.  Updates that you'll decide to implement based on the information that such a map will provide you with. To sum up, here's a short inventory of the benefits that you get from mapping the user journey: you improve your website's/app's design you improve conversion funnels you can compare the experiences of different audience segments you get to “fuel” your user research you get to measure the impact of touchpoints 3. How to Create a User Journey Map: 8 Steps Now that you know why you'd want to map your user's journey on your website, let's see how you do that. What key stages should your user journey map template include? And I've broken the whole process down into 8 simple steps: Step 1: Set a scope for your customer journey map Which could go from a high-level map — the end-to-end user experience — to a more elaborated map, that focuses on one specific user interaction (i.e. filling in the check out form). Step 2: Create your user persona To put together an accurate persona profile, you need to do some user research. Collect as much relevant information about your target audience as possible before putting together the user persona's profile. Step 3: Determine the scenario and the user expectations For instance, a scenario could be: buying an item from your store using your eCommerce app. Whereas the user expectation, in this case, could be: having that item delivered in 2 days at most. Step 4: List the touchpoints It's that step in creating your user journey map where you make a list of all the user actions and interactions with your website/app, as well as of all the channels associated with them. Step 5: Define the problem that the user's trying to solve What's the user's motivation/intention?  What drives him/her to interact with your website?  Is he/she looking for more information on your products/services? Or has he accessed your website to buy a specific product? Step 6: Make a Sketch of the User Journey With all the information you've collected up to this point, put together a step-by-step interaction map. Where each “step” stands for a specific experience that the user persona has when interacting with your website. Step 7: Pinpoint the user's emotional state at each step in the journey What does the user feel at each step of interaction with your website/app? This empathy map will help up visualize the “ups” and “downs” in the user experience, so you should know where to... intervene. Step 8: Validate and adjust the user journey accordingly Rely on the information you will have collected during your usability testing sessions and from your app analytics to put your user journey map against a real use case. No matter how truthful your map might look to you (since you know it's based on intensive user research), it's crucial to validate it and to... adjust it, if needed. 4. User Journey Mapping vs User Story Mapping “Is a user journey like a user story?” Well, there are some key differences to be aware of. What's a user story? user stories describe small, specific tasks a group of user stories forms an “epic” they're essential for user acceptance testing and agile development The standard formula for creating a user story statement if the following: As a..., I want to..., so that I...” For instance: As an SEO specialist, I want to keyword-optimize this text, so that the website ranks higher in Google search results. And how is a user journey map different from a user story? When you map a customer journey you start with post-in notes on a whiteboard. You: determine who your website/app addresses to sketch the big picture detail each “epic” define a release strategy define a learning strategy (small experiments to minimize risks) define a development strategy Is it much clearer to you now why you need a user journey map for improving the UX  on your website, but the process seems too... time-consuming to you? Just shift the burden to us then... Drop us a line and let's identify all those opportunities for improving the experiences your users have when interacting with your site/app. ... Read more
Silviu Serdaru / Aug 26'2020
How to Approach User Experience Design: The 8-Stage Process (with specific activities and deliverables for each phase)
Should you start by analyzing your competitors or... by building the user persona for your new software product? Then, should you jump straight to paper sketching or...? How to approach user experience design, more precisely? What are the key steps to include in this process? And what's the right order to carry them out? What are the specific activities to perform? What deliverables should you create at each step? Let's get you some answers now. Here's how our own UX design process looks like. Take it as a tried-and-tested 8-point checklist. One that you can use to make sure that you complete the end-to-end cycle when designing the user experience for your apps (or websites). But First: What Is User Experience Design? “If UX is the experience that a user has while interacting with your product, then UX Design is, by definition, the process by which we determine what that experience will be.” (Source: usertesting.com) Let's try an ultra concise, yet comprehensive definition: UX design is... design has the user's experience at its very core. So the process of designing the best experience for your users calls for a step-by-step approach where you: do extensive research, trying to understand your users' needs and problems collect a whole lot of data that'd help you figure out how users interact with your product (so you can anticipate common user flows) plan out everything, all the elements that go into your software product are thought through and designed from the user's viewpoint run extensive user tests on your prototype The whole point of this step-by-step user experience design process? (or why is user experience design important?) It helps you answer your “Why”, “What”, and “How” questions related to your product before you go ahead and... develop it: Why would target customers use your product? Does it help them perform a specific task? Or does it reflect some of their personal values, maybe (i.e. Apple users identify themselves with people who “think differently”)   What helps them perform the actions that they expect to perform with your product (which of your product's features and functionalities)?   How do they perform those actions? Does your app provide an easy and aesthetically pleasant way for them to carry out their tasks? Source: usertesting.com 1.1. User Experience Design vs User Interface Design: How Are They Different? Take UI as everything that the customer comes into contact with when using your app. From the graphics he sees to the on-screen buttons he touches, to the mental concepts he's using while interacting with your app... And take the UX as the overall experience of that interaction. “Something that looks great but is difficult to use is exemplary of great UI and poor UX. While Something very usable that looks terrible is exemplary of great UX and poor UI.” (source: careerfoundry.com) “And what is good user experience design?” you might ask yourself. Good UX helps users do what they want to do when interacting with your business. But measuring the success of your UX design process isn't that straightforward, though: you need to get your target customers to... experience your app/website then you need to keep refining it; to adjust it to the changing needs and new challenges they face, making sure it remains user-friendly over time Now, let's see which are the 8 typical stages of a user experience design process.  Stages which might be swapped in and out, depending on your team's familiar workflow and your project's specific requirements. Let's dive in: Stage 1: How to Approach User Experience Design: Ground Your Work in User Research   “What is the first step of a UX design process?” you ask?  Get to know your target customers as much as possible. What type of people will be using your app? What are their motivations, behaviors, needs, and goals? Designed with "Make My Persona". And having just “an idea” is not enough. It's at this stage of the process where you gather and analyze as much data as possible on your app's target users: run some web analytics take user interviews conduct online surveys put together your user persona profile, which is no more than an archetypal representation of your target users (their goals and behaviors) that helps you validate all your future design decisions Dive deep into all the data you've collected so far and start looking for patterns and trends. It's these common patterns that'll help you distill this huge pile of data and see who the “average user” for your product is.   Stakeholders involved UX design team Deliverables: usability studies user personas user stories Stage 2: Define the Problem That the User Is Having “What are the most important things to understand throughout a UX design process?” The problem that you're trying to solve with your product. And why solving that problem would be beneficial to your business. In other words, how the user’s problem aligns with your business goals. Articulating a clear problem statement is one of the UX design process best practices. Figure out what the user needs (or what problem he's dealing with) and plan out your product as a solution to those needs. For example: It's not a shopping cart that your online store's customers NEED. What they need is an overview of the items they've selected and of their total cost. The shopping cart is the solution to precisely these 2 customer needs.  Here are 4 helpful questions to focus on: What problem do we want to solve? What are our users' needs and why are these particular needs important to them? Are there any existing or anticipated limitations to address? What are the benchmarks for success? Source: uxdesign.cc Stakeholders involved product manager product design team Deliverables: a clear user-need statement that includes: a user, his problem or need, and his goal storyboards customer journey map Stage 3: Do Some UX Competitive Analysis  Who are your competitors? And what approaches have they adopted for their own products? How are they different/better than yours? How well do other software products, with similar features, perform? This is that stage of the process where you run extensive research on: your target market your competitors the latest UX/UI trends Stakeholders involved design team  Deliverables: market research competitor analysis Stage 4: Sketch Out a Wireframe    Another valid answer to your dilemma — “How to approach user experience design” —  is:  You put together a low-fidelity wireframe for your software product. It'll be the link between: your app's/website's visual design and its information architecture And it's also a quick and effective way to get your idea across all the teams involved. At this stage you: brainstorm ideas  explore possible solutions to that user's problem/need that you've identified in stage 2 (and hopefully come up with a better solution than your competition)  explore several ways of displaying different types of content and information identify the content that you need to prioritize, according to how important it is for the user journey No need to invest too much time (and creativity) into something too detailed. Whiteboard photos, pencil sketches on paper will do since at this point you'll be focusing exclusively on: the main functionality the user experience … on every screen Stakeholders involved design team Deliverables: user flows hand-drawn sketches wireframes sitemap lots and lots of sticky notes with ideas written on, that you can sort by hierarchy and group by theme Stage 5: Create a Prototype Another one of the UX design process best practices to follow. That's because you'll want to have a draft version of your product that users could test before you do any coding. The great thing about prototypes is that they simulate the real experience — you touch the “Next” button and it takes you to the next screen— so that testers can have a real feel of how the real app will function. They get to experience its design in... real-time. Stakeholders involved design team Deliverables: paper prototype design images icons design specifications such as colors, typography, theme, guidelines, styles low-fidelity prototype high-fidelity prototype interactive prototype Stage 6: Have It Tested by Real Users  How to approach user experience design? You collect as much feedback as possible on your product prototype. And here are 3 battle-tested methods: usability testing remote user testing A/B testing And you sure don't run short of means to make the most of user testing: from simple observations to surveys to questionnaires  to interviews … there are “n” ways to get your valuable feedback from real users. Deliverables: user feedback usability report analytics report audit reports on the prototype's UI lists of areas that need improvement (or features that should be removed/replaced) Stage 7: Develop and Launch Time to bring the developers in! Now it's their time to shine. To implement the designs and: structure the database build the server build the back end functionality tie the back-end to the UI  One of the UX design process best practices to follow here is having the design team... stick around. They might need to intervene and make small tweaks to their design or simply to communicate any issues that arise while developers are implementing it. Stakeholders involved development team design team Deliverables:  a high fidelity version of the user interface with functionality and user experience baked in Stage 8: Evaluate  Time for a new round of... analysis. And here are a couple of questions to guide your evaluation process: How do users respond to our product? Do they find it easy to use? Where does it get it right, in terms of user experience, and where does it... fail? Does it manage to solve their problems/meet their needs? Stakeholders product manager design team Deliverables: new feature ideas that might need to get implemented lists of issues reported Final Word: The UX Design Process Comes Down to Learn.Think. Make So, to give you a final answer to your question — “How to approach user experience design?”: Many of the stages included in our process are debatable and perfectly... optional (i.e. you might feel like skipping the wireframing part if you have a solid design system set in place). Feel free to swap stages in and out and to adjust the process to your own business, your teams, and your specific project requirements. What you should not consider as optional is the 9th step in designing the user experience that I haven't included here: The UX design process is an... ongoing one. You'll need to constantly improve and to polish your designs to fit new circumstances, new contexts, future user challenges... No UX experts in your team to hand over all these tasks to? We're here to help! Just drop us a line and let's design the best user experience for your app/website. Image by William Iven from Pixabay ... Read more
Adriana Cacoveanu / Aug 24'2020
10 Ways that You Can Simplify Design and Increase Your Conversion Rate
The road to cluttered website design is paved with good intentions. For you want to make users' visits on your site as visually-pleasing as possible. So, you start adding lots of illustrated graphics and embellished fonts and... till it turns into a "carnival" of colors and styles. You also want to impress them with loads of features. And to give them the freedom to choose from (so) many options. The result? A confusing mess that sends visitors away in seconds. So, how do you simplify design? How do you set up a powerful, simple website design that converts? Here are 10 handy techniques that you can implement: 1. Make Every Design Decision with the CTA in Mind What do you want users to do on your website? to download an app or maybe a free eBook? to sign up for your newsletter? to request a quote? to leave a comment? to share your blog post on social media? Got your answer?  Great! Now make sure that all the design elements on your site collaborate to help the user carry out that specific goal. See that your call to action's visible enough and present enough times on your web pages, even if that means getting rid of elements that are purely decorative. 2. Use the 80/20 Rule to Prioritize Effectively Applying the "law of the vital few" is a great way to simplify design. Here's how it works: since 80% of results (i.e. more clicks, more conversions, etc.) come from only 20% of the design elements on your website (buttons, CTAs, traffic funnels, specific UI elements, even white space) ... you need to focus on that 20% of the content Keep this criterion in mind whenever you need to prioritize certain design elements over others. Whenever you need to get strategic about distributing your design efforts. 3. Start Questioning the Necessity of a Sidebar As Neil Patel dared to put it into words: "Do you really need a sidebar?" To be sure, just run some tests (a tool like Crazy Egg comes in handy here). You'll then know for sure: how many visitors actually click on your website's sidebar if it's a design element that converts or... just a distraction 4. Stick to 3 Color Options at Most Sticking to a color palette is another effective and handy technique to achieve simplicity in website design. Choose your 2-3 colors and... stick to them.  Go with that cohesive color scheme to create a sense of harmony with all the elements of your website's design. 5. Trim Down Your Menu to Maximum 7 Items to Simplify Design The short term memory is no myth. Nor is the "paradox of choice". With that in mind, you'll want to have up to 7 (preferably less) items on your menu.  6. Use Standard Navigation Why not get "daring" and surprise your website visitors with alternative navigation? Or maybe a hidden one? Why should you stick to the same ol', same ol' style of navigation menu? Because it's familiar. And "familiar" means less effort from the user. Because it's straightforward. And "straightforward" means "more usable" In short, you'll want to: stick to the top or pop-out navigation menus  do your best to avoid mega-style navigation menus that end up overwhelming the users 7. Increase the Text Size "But doesn't this technique to simplify design contradict other web page design rules?", you might ask yourself. And I know which "rules" you must be thinking of: the one that says that larger lettering is counter-intuitive on small-sized screens the one that says that all key elements should be above the scroll The truth is that mobile users are already used to scrolling and larger text size is easier to read. So, why no make their task easier? 8. Keep Options to a Minimum How can you simplify a design? By limiting the number of options. This way, you take a "saboteur" like choice overload out of the picture.  In other words, present users with fewer choices and they'll be more likely to choose... something. 9. Break Up Complex Tasks into Smaller, Manageable Steps And this is a straight path to creating a simple website design. Where "simple" stands for "better user experience". Let's say you go to a website and at some point, you need to fill in a super long form, with lots of fields and multiple-choice questions.  And they're all there, squeezed on the same screen: a discouraging network of columns with fields, and subfields, and... Pretty daunting, isn't it? But what if you: rearranged everything on the screen into a single column? broke up that "wall" of tasks into several little steps to take one at a time? sequenced all the info across multiple screens? In other words: What if you hid your form's complexity using progressive disclosure?  Users could fill in some fields on the first screen, then a few more on the next screen... This way, they don't get overwhelmed thinking about what to fill out next. They can distribute their efforts more easily by taking one page at a time. You'd then increase your chances of having users take some minutes of their time to fill in your form. 10. Stick to the "One Page, One Goal" Rule How do you simplify a website? You first answer this question: "What is the one thing I want the user to do when they are on this page?" (Neil Patel) Then, you implement that answer. So, what is it that you expect your website visitors to do on a given page of your website? to read that blog post? to start a free trial? to sign up for your newsletter? to... click the "products" menu? What is it? Find out, then design your web page around this primary action. Don't try to "juggle with" too many options, to ask the user to carry out several actions on the same page for... you'll only overwhelm him/her and send him away. Choose one clear primary action for each page instead of placing your bet on multiple, equally important actions. The END! These are our 10 handy tips for you on how to simplify design and make it clean and easy to use. Too many projects on your plate right now? Don't have the time and the team available to declutter your website's design and make it more usable, more... efficient? Just shift the burden to us! Drop us a line and let's simplify your site. Image by Roland Steinmann from Pixabay   ... Read more
Silviu Serdaru / Aug 19'2020
Why Cloud-Native Apps? How Exactly Can Cloud Native Applications Benefit Your Business?
For it all comes down to this: what's the return that you'd get from switching to this new way of developing applications? Why cloud-native apps? How does migrating from cloud-hosted to cloud native applications translate into clear benefits for you? For your own business? We've listed them, then... shortlisted them to the 6 biggest benefits that you can expect from developing cloud native apps. Or, if you wish, the top 6 reasons why you'll want to use a cloud-native architecture from now on. But First: What Are Cloud Native Applications More Precisely? They're collections of independent, loosely coupled microservices, each one performing a single service or business function. Unlike the traditional "monolithic" app architecture, where you have a single... block. So that whenever you needed to apply even a small change, you had to interrupt the entire app. And it's precisely this intrinsic constraint of the monolithic approach — translating into limited scalability and flexibility — that has made the cloud-native model so "tempting": it allows you to develop and deploy each microservice independently so, whenever you need to apply changes, you're no longer constrained to wait first for all the components to get updated you can incorporate the new features (in many cases, suggested by users themselves) and deliver the app to your audience right away #1: You Get to Incorporate User Feedback into Your App in... Real-Time Why cloud-native apps? Due to their high availability: You get to make real-time changes to your applications... on the fly. ... to respond to users' expectations of specific new features and functionalities faster than with the traditional app development model. "Continuous improvement" is the key phrase here:   You're free to add and roll back new features and enhance its performance... constantly. On the go. #2: You Benefit from a Higher Developer Productivity And this is another one of the key cloud native application benefits. The cloud-native architecture: speeds up the development process helps your team save time, that they'd otherwise need to spend trying to solve various infrastructure issues and handling critical business requirements instead enables easy remote access to their system, irrespective of their location #3: Why Cloud-Native Apps? Because You Can Build, Update, and Deliver them Faster The cloud-native approach enables you to scale your resources and comply with user demand way faster than the monolithic approach: You get to bring new features online — requested by your users — more quickly. To roll out changes and start marketing your app much faster. In short, you get to be more responsive to user demand and more relevant with the updates you make to your app in… real time. #4: You Save Time and Money From all the cloud native applications advantages, cost-savings must be the most tangible one. And it’s pretty obvious if you come to think of it: Since the cloud-native approach to developing applications allows you to build and release them much faster, you’re practically left with more time. More time to focus on your other revenue-generating tasks. #5: You Can Make or Roll Back Small Changes Without "Freezing" the Entire App Why cloud native applications? Because you can minimize downtime when you need to update your app. #6: You Get to Run Your App on Multiple Platforms Cloud native applications run on both public and private platforms without you being forced to make any major changes. For “flexibility” (along with “efficiency” and “high availability”) is another word for cloud-native. So, Why Cloud-Native Apps? It’s simple: You get to innovate faster and to react to users’ changing needs and trends... faster. Do you already have an app idea and you just need the right team to, ask the right questions, grasp your vision, and… make it happen? Just drop us a line, let’s hear all about it and let's... build it! Image by Ashish Bogawat from Pixabay ... Read more
Adriana Cacoveanu / Aug 15'2020
Rank Math vs Yoast SEO: Is Rank Math Better than Yoast? (pros, cons, and when to choose one plugin over the other)
You've just started your WordPress site and you're facing a "Rank Math vs Yoast SEO" dilemma. Which plugin should you use? Or maybe you've already been running a WordPress site for a while now and you've been using Yoast during all this time. But recently you've been having doubts that you're using the best tool: what's all this fuss about Rank Math? Is Rank Math better than Yoast?  Which one should you choose? And how do you choose?  In this post, you'll get straight answers to questions like: "What do I get when I choose Rank Math?" "When exactly would I choose Rank Math over Yoast SEO?" "Are there any reasons not to use Rank Math over Yoast?" "What do I get when I choose Yoast?" "When is Yoast a better solution for me?" 1. What You Get When You Choose Rank Math: Top Features Expect to get far more features for free. Here are the most powerful ones: Rich snippets   A dedicated SEO audit tool: you get a site-wide SEO analysis tool integrated right into your WordPress dashboard; it evaluates your pages based on... 40 SEO factors, so expect a much more detailed technical insight into your web pages   a visually-attractive UI: unlike Yoast SEO, Rank Math doesn't trade aesthetics for functionality; you have all your options organized into categories, which makes each operation far more intuitive   full schema support (for any type of content on your WordPress site, from Article to events, to video, product, and... recipe)   the option to noindex certain pages as you publish them   the option to optimize the same page for up to... 5 focus keywords (for free...): you get to check the SEO score for all of them   auto-link suggestions   redirects and 404 monitoring   local SEO    Google search control integration    clearer content analysis: instead of rating your content as "OK", "Good", or "Bad", Rank Math uses numbers in its SEO scores, making its analysis more to the point, more accurate So, getting back to your dilemma — "Rank Math or Yoast?" — from a feature set standpoint we can say that: Rank Math offers you much more functionality... out of the box (i.e. free of charge). 2. Rank Math vs Yoast SEO: You'll Want to Bet on Rank Math If... you know your way around SEO, so you can use it to its full potential by checking every little setting you have there you want to cut down on your plugins: since you get so much built-in functionality "by default", you don't need so many plugins (i.e. plugin for scheme support) or to get yourself tangled up in additional coding 3. 2 Reasons NOT to Choose Rank Math over Yoast SEO For there are a few... inconveniences of using Rank Math that you should be aware of when you run a "Rank Math vs Yoast 2020" comparison: indexing: it won't show up under your site:mydomain.com, so you'll need to go and click "Request Indexing" in the Google Search Console yourself too many features: checking every single setting there might get a bit... overwhelming, especially if you're new to technical SEO or you just don't have that much time at your disposal 4. What You Get When You Choose Yoast SEO Now, since it's a "Rank Math vs Yoast SEO" dilemma that you're struggling with, let's put the spotlight on the latter, as well. Here's why you'll want to go with Yoast: 70% of its features are free you can add unique tags, meta titles, and descriptions to all your web pages you get to rank your WordPress website quickly (and, once it's reached a decent position, to level up to its premium version, maybe) you can generate a sitemap and submit it to Google Search Console  5. You'll Want to Go with Yoast SEO If... "Should I use Yoast?" You should if you're an SEO beginner. Or simply not familiar with all the technical aspects of SEO (maybe your WordPress site doesn't need that much SEO work done). Then, Rank Math's heavy load of powerful features might seem too discouraging and... unnecessary for you. In that case, you might want to use Yoast. It's beginner-friendly, it helps you start your website ranking quickly and... it's backed by a huge community of WordPress site owners who've been using it for years. The END! Do you now have a clear answer to your "Rank Math vs Yoast SEO" dilemma? But what if you do have a personal winner, yet just the thought of having to carry out all those SEO tasks recommended by your plugin is enough to... stress you out? Maybe you don't have enough people available in your team to handle them. Or the time needed to complete them. If so, just shift the burden to us. Drop us a line and let's get your WordPress site evaluated for SEO issues and areas to be improved. With that list at hand, we're ready to come up with its best version for both search engines and visitors. Image by Surote Wongpaiboon from Pixabay  ... Read more
Adriana Cacoveanu / Aug 13'2020
Create React App vs Next.js: Which One Should You Go With for Building Your Next App?
You're about to start working on a new app project and you're confused: Create React App vs Next.js - what's the difference?  Which option's best for you? Considering your SEO,  SSR, API, and performance needs. And they're frustratingly similar: they both enable you to build React apps without the need to use Webpack for bundling it (or the need to do any code splitting) they both make it possible for you to have your React app up and running in no time Still, each framework comes with its own pros and cons and specific use cases. So, in this post, you'll find your answers to the following questions: What are the key differences between CRA and Next.js? What are the main benefits of using Next.js? What are the main benefits of using Create React App? What are the downsides of Next.js? What are the downsides of Create React App? When would you want to use one over the other? 1. What's the Key Difference Between CRA and Next.js? SSR vs CSR... It's where all their differences stem from. Next.js apps are rendered on the client-side (CSR), but the framework supports server-side rendering (SSR), as well. By comparison, Create React App apps are rendered only on the client-side. In other words: CRA generates HTML code in the client browser, whereas Next.js generates it in the server, based on the URL.  So, your "Create react App vs Next.js" dilemma comes down to whether a static page meets your needs or not entirely. 2. What Are the Main Benefits of Using Next.js? Now that you know what's the fundamental difference between the 2 systems for building React apps, let's put the spotlight on Next.js. Why would you choose it? because it's so simple to set up, build, and even host a Next.js app: you have packages for almost all the key additions that call for Webpack configuration (SaSS, CSS, TS...) because rendering React apps becomes much easier, regardless of where the data comes from because you can benefit from automatic server rendering and code splitting (that will increase performance) because SSR (server-side rendering) will give your app a major performance boost  because it's a lightweight framework for both static and server-rendered universal JS apps because it's good for SEO (with everything being generated from the server...) 3. Create React App vs Next.js: What Are the Main Benefits of Using CRA? In a "Next.js vs create-react-app" debate, what are the strongest reasons for opting for CRA to build your React app? it's easier to deploy you get to build a single page React app with... zero configuration (no time-consuming setup needed) you don't need to deal with Webpack or Babel it's plain simple (an empty div and just a few js files) and provides all the needed HTML code to render your app on the client-side  the development process is much smoother better developer experience In short, with Create React App you basically run just one command and the framework sets up all the tools you need to start developing your app on the spot. 4. What Are the Downsides of Next.js? What could make you think twice before choosing Next.js for building your next app? the fact that it's opinionated: there's a Next.js way of doing things and you're constrained to... adjust to it if you later want to use a router different from its own filled-based one (or add Redux maybe), you'll discover that it's not that flexible  5. What Are the Downsides of Create React App? In a "Create React App vs Next.js" debate, why would you rule out CRA? because it only supports client-side rendering, which is not enough if it's a high-performing app that you want to build because no code splitting translates into lower performance because it's not good for SEO (since it doesn't render pages on the server) 6. When Would You Want to Use Next.js? As a rule of thumb, use Next.js: if you need to build a fast, production-ready app (SSR injects top speed into your React application) if public SEO is a crucial factor for your app project if it's a dynamic page that you need to create (wihout having to write your own bundling) if it's an eCommerce app that you're building (Next.js is more suited for the cart, the stock inventory, and other highly dynamic pages) 7. When Would You Want to Use Create React App? When would you choose it over Next.js? when you need to build a React app really fast; with CRA you can skip the configuration and the setting up part when you need to create a landing page for a product: Create React App makes it so much simpler to put it together when it's a SPA that you need to build 8. In Conclusion... CRA is easy, while Next.js "seduces" you with better performance and SEO. Is it a single page React app that you need to get up and running fast and you don't need SSR? Create React App might just be the best choice for you. Is it a fast-loading app that you're building? Is performance business-critical for you and SEO much more than just a nice-to-have? You might want to consider Next.js then for your next app. Need a team of experienced app developers to build it for you? Just send us your feature list and... let's build it! Image by Pexels from Pixabay   ... Read more
Silviu Serdaru / Aug 07'2020
10 Best Tools for Conducting a Drupal 8 Site Audit (to evaluate its performance, security, and stability)
You want to audit your Drupal website's infrastructure, SEO, best practices, security, stress, overall performance... And you ask yourself: Are there tools that help you run a Drupal 8 site audit? ... and generate the reports you need? There are quite a few, actually. To narrow down your too many options, we've made a list of 10 tools and Drupal modules that you can use to test your website's performance, security, and stability. 1. 3 Best Tools to Run a Website Security Audit 1.1. Coder     What does it do? it checks your code to see whether it meets the industry standards it checks your text, so you'll know whether i's properly sanitized or not quite In short, a Drupal 8 audit module you'll want to have in your toolbox when conducting a website security audit. 1.2. Qualys SSL Server Test Another tool that you'll want to use during your Drupal 8 security audit process. Why? Because it performs a thorough analysis of a public SSL certificate and generates a grade for you. 1.3. Security Kit How does it work?  It provides you with a set of security-hardening options, that strengthen the shield around your site against CSRF, XSS, and clickjacking attacks. 2.3 Best Tools to Run a Drupal 8 Site Audit Focused on Its Performance 2.1. PageSpeed Insight, YSlow, GTMetrix  Take these 3 website performance audit tools as your the "swiss army knife" in your toolbox.  They run multiple tests on your website and generate a whole set of practical recommendations on how you can boost its front-end performance. Here are just some examples of recommendations: cut down on the number of elements the browser's forced to parse by simplifying the DOM cut down on the number of requests  by aggregating your JS files or using image sprites 2.2. New Relic An all-into-one Drupal site audit module that helps you monitor different sections on your website: from infrastructure to server, to browser and application. Now, here's precisely why you'll want to keep it close at hand while assessing your website's performance: it allows you to set up multiple customized dashboards that show graphs and charts of your website's performance data it enables you to keep an eye on your website's traffic and performance in real-time it allows you to isolate bottlenecks and set up alerts for key events 2.3. Performance Monitor   Let's say you've just moved your Drupal website to another hosting and you now feel that it has slowed down. And that the new server needs to be optimized for Drupal. This is precisely where this module comes in handy: It gives you a clear picture of how your website's performing now, while comparing different servers/hostings. Here are some of the features you'll love: it checks the Mysql status and variables (and provides recommendations) it tests the overall system performance (it runs database, CPU, and file operations performance tests) it evaluates the "Performance score"  3. 4 Best Tools to Evaluate Your Website's Stability 3. 1. Behat, PHPUnit, Nightwatch Or you can put together your own "combo" of unit and functional testing tools. Automated testing will improve your website's stability... in the long-term (and nothing can beat the peace of mind that you'll get). 3.2. Code Sniffer Whenever you need to assess your code's quality, just reach out for this Drupal 8 audit tool. It will... "sniff on" your code and signal you if it doesn't meet the coding standards.  Also, while testing your code's stability, you'll want to have a look at: the quality of your links the cycles of peer review for codes the factors that influence the SEO the access and breadth of documentation the modules you have on your website: are there any outdated ones? 3.3. Tugboat You save time and money using Tugboat (or an alternative continuous integration tool). Here's how: it runs the automated and linting tests that you will have set up and generates a report to your developer before even merging or reviewing the code it builds a completely working website that incorporates that new feature you've added or has that specific bug fixed before it gets merged A true time-saver that you'll definitely want to have in your toolkit when testing newly added code for stability.  3.4. Linting Tools How do they help you increase the stability of your Drupal website? they get all the developers in your team on the same page when it comes to the code format to be used they (i.e. Drupal Code Sniffer) enforce the Drupal coding standards once integrated to your developers' text editors Tip! Make sure you incorporate your linting tools into your automated testing routine, the one that gets performed on each pull request. The END! These are your best options when it comes to the Drupal 8 site audit tools to include in your toolkit. But what if you dread the idea of digging deep into your code, checking every single one of your Drupal modules, evaluating the CPU performance... What if you could still get a clear picture of how you're website's performing without the dread of going through all these tedious, time-consuming tasks? Just shift the burden to us! Drop us a line and let's get your Drupal website checked for all the issues and bottlenecks affecting its performance, security level, and stability! Image by Free-Photos from Pixabay   ... Read more
Adriana Cacoveanu / Aug 06'2020
What Are the Advantages of Using Flutter? 10 Good Reasons to Choose It for Your Next App Project
Why would you want to build your next app with Flutter? Instead of... React Native? Or maybe Swift? What are the key advantages of using Flutter? Here are the best reasons why you'd want to give it a go for your next app project: But What Is Flutter Used For Anyway? ... for building native-looking Android and iOS apps using a single codebase. "But how is it any different from other cross-platform frameworks?" you might ask yourself. Widgets... That's right, they're Flutter's equivalent of the React Native components. Or of the native UI components, if you wish. You get to put together a fully customed UI for your app by choosing, then mixing and matching several ready-made widgets. They look either iOS-native or Android-native and... you can even create your own widgets, from the ground up. A widget could stand for a menu or a button, a slider, text, toggle... Reason #1: You Get to Share Both the UI Code and the UI Itself Between Multiple Platforms In short: you can make the most of having a common UI and business logic for all your target platforms. And this is where Flutter manages to stand out from the crowd of cross-platform frameworks: It doesn't just have a unique codebase for all platforms: it also shares both the UI and the UI code globally, across iOS and Android. In other words, one language, one UI, same business logic translates into UI consistency across platforms. Reason #2: You Reduce Maintenance Costs, One of the Main Advantages of Using Flutter       And that's pretty obvious since you only have one codebase to maintain.                Reason #3: You Save Time and Money (And Get to Be More Productive) Just imagine: You will use the same codebase for both the Android and iOS versions of your app. So, this can only bubble up to your... overall costs.  You: build one app and run it on multiple platforms (saving time and resources) get to build more apps... faster reach a wider audience with a single investment  Reason #4: You Get to Inject Native-Level of Performance into Your App "Why choose Flutter in 2020?" Because it powers your app with close-to-native performance. With Dart (Flutter's programming language) compiling everything into native code, and the need of accessing OEM widgets, out of the equation, you get better app startup times. Reason #5: You'll Develop Your App Much Faster The Flutter development experience is one of the best. And the main reason why developing a Flutter app is so much simpler and, therefore, faster. Here's why: The "hot reload" feature allows your developers to view the changes made in code on simulators, hardware, and emulators in... real-time. With no need to restart. This speeds up processes like adding new features, building your app's UI, and even testing it. One of the main advantages of using Flutter... And, where do you add that you have a huge collection of ready-to-use-widgets at hand, which speeds up your app's development process. Reason #6: You Speed Up Time to Market for Your New App Since you don't need to develop separate apps anymore, one for iOS and one for Android, you get to launch your app much faster. And to reduce your time to market. Reason #7: You Get to Fully Customize the UI Another one of the strongest Flutter app development advantages is the huge customization potential. You get to customize your app's UI in the slightest detail. And here are 2 ways that you can do that: browse through its impressive collection of prepackaged, core layout widgets, pick the ones that fit your needs, customize them to your liking and... create a fully customed UI go for some of the pre-built widgets that mimic the behavior of the iOS and the Android design languages: Cupertino and Material You're free to customize every aspect of your UI, no matter how complex, thanks to Flutter's ready-to-use widgets.   ... and to save lots of time while doing it. Reason #8: You Spend Less Time Testing Your Application Just think about it: The widgets making up your UI are part of the app itself and not part of the iOS or the Android platform. So, you're less likely to face incompatibility issues. Which translates into less time invested in testing your app... Reason #9: You Can Learn It in Just About... 2 Weeks  You/your development team will spend less time learning it. And this is one of the key advantages of using Flutter. Here's why: The UI in Flutter is code, basically. So, you can just put logic on the UI code to create, use, and... reuse components. Reason #10: You Get to Build a UI-Heavy App in No Time "Is Flutter a good choice?" It is if it's a UI-heavy application that you need to build. And you need it built really fast. The END! Now, whether these 10 reasons are strong enough for you to give Flutter a go or... not quite, one thing's for sure: You need a fast, great-looking app, that should incorporate all those powerful features on your wishlist. Nothing easier. Just drop us a line with that wishlist of yours and let's get it built!   Image by RSunset from Pixabay   ... Read more
Silviu Serdaru / Jul 31'2020
What Is the Best eCommerce Platform for Small Business in 2020? Your 6 Best Options
You need to launch your small eCommerce business fast and without breaking the bank... if possible. So, what's the best eCommerce platform for small business in 2020? And, most importantly: Which is the best eCommerce option for your store? The one that meets your specific needs? For, let me guess: your wishlist doesn't end there. You also want it to: give you enough customization freedom so you can personalize every aspect of your website    be scalable, to accommodate all those big plans that you have for your store be easy to use both for you, as you build your storefront, and your customers provide you with robust sales features (and advanced SEO tools) be fast have great software integration; you want to be able to add all the extra apps and tools that you might need quick and easy Now, let's see which of these 6 best eCommerce platforms for startups ticks most of the boxes on your list: 1. Squarespace What makes Squarespace one of the first solutions to evaluate first when choosing the best eCommerce solution for your small store? It gives you total creative control over how your website will look. Squarespace stands out from this list with its sleek, modern templates. Templates that are flexible enough to enable you to DIY your online store exactly how you want it to look. With no coding skills or additional plugins needed. Key Benefits you get unlimited creative control you get an entire collection of beautifully-designed templates, as well as tons of flexibility to further customize them to your liking you get to sell your products on Instagram, as well Main Drawbacks you're not free to add any extra sales features to those that you get out of the box; there's no app market you're quite limited when it comes to payment options; there are 3 options only: Apple Pay, PayPal, and Stripe its multi-channel selling offering is limited to Instagram its sales features aren't as powerful as those of other eCommerce solutions for small businesses You'd Choose to Build Your Website with Squarespace If... it's a visually-arresting storefront that you want to create you want total creative control over your website's design 2. Best Platform for Small Business in 2020: Wix Wix is any small-scale seller's (with little to no tech knowledge) dream come true. You get: an easy to use drag and drop system to put together your store (just drag text boxes and images and position them anywhere you want on the page) tons of creative freedom over your website's looks: make your website look exactly like the one in your head the chance to build your store with... zero costs (pay when you start to actually sell products/services on your newly built website) What more could you want from a solution of eCommerce for small retailers! Key Benefits  you can build your first online store in no time: you just drag and drop elements on the page you're free to design it exactly how you want it to look you get to add product videos, too Main Drawbacks you can't sell your products across multiple social channels you get a less robust inventory, compared to other platforms (i.e. you can't bulk upload products) Overall, the eCommerce tools that you get aren't as powerful as those of other platforms (i.e. Shopify).  You'd Choose to Build Your Website with Wix If... you're looking for an affordable eCommerce solution you want it to be super easy to use you want to be able to personalize every little aspect of your store  3. Weebly  Image by Hannes Edinger from Pixabay If you're looking for a 100% beginner-friendly and budget-friendly solution, Weebly is the one. You get to: sell for free (and upgrade later to one of its eCommerce plans) set up your small-scale eCommerce website with no tech skills Key Benefits  you get to build your online store on a budget: it doesn't get any cheaper than Weebly you can get your website up and running in no time: Weebly's the most beginner-friendly eCommerce solution you'll find Main Drawbacks you're not free to customize your checkout page (a crucial page on your eCommerce website) it doesn't provide you with multichannel selling features You'd Choose to Build Your Website with Weebly If... you have a really small inventory, so you don't really need any advanced selling features 4. BigCommerce It's one of the best eCommerce options for small businesses with... big ambitions. Why? Because: you get lots of powerful eCommerce features from the get-go (robust SEO tools and selling features); you don't need to look for (and pay for) any extra apps if you need to incorporate specific selling features into your website it is the most scalable eCommerce platform for a small business Key Benefits  you get to grow your small business... fast you get to expand your store's reach and keep your costs within budget by selling across various platforms (BigCommerce comes with lots of multi-channel integrations) Main Drawbacks its advanced tools come at a cost: a steep learning curve  it's not as beginner-friendly as the other eCommerce platforms on this list: don't expect to get your BigCommerce store live in... a matter of hours if you don't plan to grow your business any time soon, you'll find yourself paying for powerful features that you just... don't need You'd Choose to Build Your Website with BigCommerce If... you have big plans for your small eCommerce business and you want to make them a reality... fast 5. Square Online Store  Image by mohamed Hassan from Pixabay  What makes it the perfect candidate for the title of “the best platform for small business in 2020”? it's affordable it's easy to use, for any beginner trying to launch his/her first online store on his own it taps into AI to help you make the best choices when building your site  Key Benefits  you get to build your website and start selling with... zero costs: Square Online Store does offer you a free plan  the AI tech that it uses makes it so much easier (and faster) for you to build your store (i.e. you save valuable time when loading your products since it points out what categories they fit into) it's the “best value for money” type of eCommerce option for small-sized businesses  Main Drawbacks you're not 100% free to customize your website you'll find its selling features to be quite... basic if you're planning to grow your small business You'd Choose to Build Your Website with Square Online Store If... you want to be able to combine your offline sales with your online selling strategy you're on a shoestring budget and you have zero tech skills, so you're looking for a really affordable and easy to use eCommerce platform to build your small online store... fast 6. Shopify New to eCommerce and you're looking for a turnkey solution to launch your business fast? Shopify could be the best choice for you: it's easy to use and code-free it ships with 50+ different store themes (the Shopify themes are some of the best-looking ones in the marketplace) you have lots and lots of apps to choose from to incorporate precisely the functionality that you need into your store The whole process of building your eCommerce website with Shopify could get summed up to 3 simple steps: you select the store theme you add on your content you import your products' CSVs There! You're now ready to launch your Shopify store. Key Benefits  you get a huge app market and the most advanced sales-specific features on the market you get multichannel selling options (Amazon and eBay integrations here included) you can sync your inventories if you're already selling on another platform: centralize your inventory management you get a robust inventory system (i.e. you get alerted when one of your products is out of stock) you get built-in dropshipping tools, essential when you run a small business on a budget and you don't have storage for your products yet Main Drawbacks  it's not exactly the most budget-friendly eCommerce platform for a small retailer expect to be charged transaction fees on your sales, unless you use its in-house payment gateway: Shopify Payments You'd Choose to Build Your Website with Shopify If... you're committed to building a successful eCommerce business (you're not selling just a couple of products) you want to create a solid foundation for your store: Shopify provides you with powerful tools to build and manage your store and a big app store to browse through and grow your business The END! The best eCommerce platform for small business in 2020 is on this list, but the real question bugging you is: “Which one's the perfect choice for my own store?” It really depends on what you value most:  a low price? powerful sales tools and features? creative freedom to customize your product listings, your checkout page, your...? If what you need is a visually-appealing, easy to manage online store, equipped with advanced eCommerce features that best fit your needs, then what you need is Shopify. Now, if the idea of: digging through a huge app store browsing through a big collection of store themes to pick the one that suits your niche and store's personality setting everything up (optimizing it to rank high in search results here included) ... seems too time-consuming for you, we're here to help. Just drop us a line and let's get you that Shopify store that engages and drives sells.   Image by Darwin Laganzon from Pixabay   ... Read more
Adriana Cacoveanu / Jul 29'2020