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8 Crucial Cyber Security Tips that You Should Start Implementing Right Now
“Ignorance is bliss!”   And yet, it's enough for you to ignore a vulnerability in your security system and you'll face chaos!   You will have turned your worse nightmare into reality: your business's digital identity has been compromised for good, cyber criminals have infiltrated your system, your customers' sensitive data has been exposed and your brand's reputation irreparably damaged.   It's enough for you to ignore the necessity of a patch in a given context and you lose everything.   And “everything” has the same significance for you whether you're running an “enterprise-level business” or a small one, wouldn't you agree?   Now, don't you find “reducing the likelihood that such a scenario should become reality“ a far healthier business mentality than: “rely-lying exclusively on good fortune”?   In this respect, here are 8 crucial cyber security tips you should start implementing ASAP for “your good night sleep”:   1. Point Out The Safety Protocols For Social Networking   First of all, you need to face it and accept it: it's your employees that actually turn your vision, as a business owner, into reality. And it's them, as well, that could “put you out of business”.   And more often than not they “manage” to do this unintentionally!    By simply not following some basic safety protocols whenever they access social networking sites on company devices.   Here are some elementary precautions that you should remind them (on a regular basis) to take whenever they access these websites at work (or at home, but from company devices):   never post identifiable information on your social account or, even worse, information breaking the company's confidential policies and procedures never trust the “friends only” option available on your social account: absolutely everything you post there could get public there's no turning back once you've posted something on your social account; “deleting” that particular link/image won't guarantee you that all the copies of the information will get deleted think twice before you post any kind of information about somebody else from work never trust “new people” that you socialize with on such networking sites: you never know to whom you might unintentionally give away confidential information   2. Consider Encryption: Protect Your Clients' Sensitive Data   Especially if it's credit card details or patient records that you're storing on your Drupal website.   You should handle this sensitive data as if you were handling delicate (and nonetheless expensive) china!   And encryption technology is the best way to protect such confidential data. We, the team of developers working in this Toronto digital agency, strongly believe this!   You already know how it works: the used technology relies on specific algorithms which make that sensitive information readable only to those having the correct keys.   Still, you should go from just “knowing” (how it works) to actually “implementing” it! Your clients' data is definitely not a subject of debate: “to use or not to use encryption”!   3. Train Your Team on Specific Cyber Security Protocols   Do not expect your employees to guess the specific precautions they should take for avoiding to unintentionally cause security breaches within your company.   Also, do not rely exclusively on good faith, thinking that they'll stick to the protocols that you will have developed for them either. Keep reinforcing these good practices, keep giving them trainings aimed at reminding them which are the risky cyber security habits that they shouldn't adopt and the specific security protocols they should incorporate in their work from day one to the very last days in your company.   4. Keep Your Business WI-FI Network Safe    Running your business on an unsecured WI-Fi network is almost like: riding a bike blindfolded!   It's a one-way road, you'll keep it on your cycle track, and you know you've been riding bicycles on this particular road ever since you were a kid. Chances that anything bad should happen go down to zero.    And yet, why should you run any risks at all?    When you could simply take some additional steps for properly securing your WI-FI network?   hide your network name go for an ultra-strong password use a firewall   Better safe than sorry! Better “with the eyes wide shut” than “blindfolded”, right?   5. Strengthen Your Passwords   And this doesn't mean that you should rush in now to double or to triple the number of characters included in your passwords.   It's not just the number of characters (ideally at last 12) that makes a password “solid”.   There are other criteria, too, you know:   first of all: it shouldn't be a word included in the dictionary   secondly: it should include symbols, uppercase and lowercase letter and numbers, as well   And that's how you get yourself some “hard to crack”, “superhero” passwords!   Note: whenever recalling all these superhero passwords gets increasingly challenging, go for a “password manager”. Do a little research yourself, find the one that best suits you business security needs and commit to sticking to it along 2017!    Make a pledge!   6. Set Up Multi-Factor Authentication    Once you've implemented tip no. 5, accept and adapt to this proven fact: there's no such thing as "unbreakable" password!   How about that?    You should always back up your otherwise solid passwords with a two (or a multi)-factor technology!   One that requires an extra step in the login process: an extra element that the one involved should provide before logging into his/her account.   Think Paypal, for instance, or think (pretty much) any bank: their login processes do not limit to the steps of typing in a user name and a password. There is an extra security information that you need to type in before you access your account.   Again, we need to stress this idea: especially if it's sensitive data that you're storing on your Drupal website you shouldn't tighten the purse-strings when it comes to the no. of data protecting technologies that you're using.   Better safe than “unworthy of your client's trust”!   7. Backup, Backup, Then Backup Some More   Your data is your business! It's the very DNA of your business!   So, you can't afford to run any risk of losing it, just like that, after a sudden cyber attack.   After all, the whole idea behind implementing all these cyber security good practices is not just to avoid putting your business at risk, but to be “up and running” immediately after such an event does occur (if)!   Preparation is key!   So, while keeping your business' digital identity at bay from any cyber security vulnerabilities that could be exploited, make sure to be properly prepared if “the unwanted” sill occurs!   By setting up a backup plan you actually make sure that an eventual attack won't cost you too much “recovery time”. And time is, indeed, money!   It doesn't have to be a tedious process, but rather a consistent one, made of regular data backup up steps that you need to take throughout the whole life of your business!   It's a “commitment for life”!   8. Constantly Update Your Software and Browsers    We could, as well, have called this last tip: update, update, then update some more!   We know how annoying those notices can get when you're running out of time and you still have so many tasks to handle. We've been there, too, while working on our web projects in our digital agency in Toronto.         And yet, do yourself a favor: do not ignore them!   Moreover, follow your software or operating system's advice and run these updates or use the patches they're ready to strengthen your business with.   It's time consuming, we know, but do not think it in terms of “time is money” (not this time), but rather as “time invested in your business's long future”.   Since cyber criminals are constantly “refining” their breaching methods, software companies, too, need to keep up with them and to constantly update their security systems.   So, overlooking their recommendations to update is like saying: “No, thanks! I'm way too busy going out of business”.     Two more tips and we would have had a “cyber security Decalogue” for you!    What other 2 more “tips”, to make a list of 10, would you have added? Feel free to share them with us in the comments below! ... Read more
Adrian Ababei / Jan 17'2017
How Does a Content-First Design Strategy Streamline Your Web Development Process
"But we're highly visual beings!" you might say.   It's true and yet, in modern design, which reaches out to users with shortened attention span, users that have the latest technology at their fingertips, technology enabling them to access the needed information instantly: content prevails.   And design is (just) the means for highlighting it with, for making it easy to find.   Now imagine this other possible scenario: "You pick the wrapping paper (and you're quite proud of your color choice, you so love its pattern, too) and then a cute gift box, a lovely ribbon, as well, and then: you go shopping for the present itself!"   It should fit in that box that you've already so carefully picked!   If it doesn't, you should go for another gift (even if it's your second best choice) or strive to make it fit in, somehow.   And this is what the "design first" strategy, the one that we, too, use in our digital agency in Toronto, does: it either forces you to craft a brand new content or to make it jam in the “package”/design.   In result: you either waste priceless time or you risk to “ruin” your content.   Now let's cut the chase and see exactly how a content-first strategy will streamline your website building/redesigning process:   1. Put Content First: Save Time and Money   Ready for some more visualization exercises?   Let's say you're almost there, so close to releasing your Drupal website (or your client's) into the wild and to “crushing” your competition from the very first day you launch it.   And, all of a sudden, someone waves the red flag:   certain pieces of the content still need stakeholders' approval (and this might require more time than estimated)   it's just now that you realize that there's more content needed to be written from scratch or revised and, surprise, surprise: you don't have all the needed resources to deliver it on time   the designer comes in with his/her own input, too: he's just realized that, well, his work and the copywriter's work are not exactly a “match made in heaven”    Can you guess where all the above scenarios lead to?    To project delay, to a major waste of energy from the part of your team, a lot of stress and last but surely not least: to a big hole in the budget allocated for this web project, too.   And you don't want this to happen.    If only you could have invested some time for strategically planning and structuring your content beforehand!   If so, now you would have just thrown it into the mocks, focusing on the last on the last details and polishes.   Planned ahead content:   would have helped your team lay the very foundation stones of the whole UX of your website (where exactly the user would find the needed information at various stages of his/her journey on your site) would have helped them draft the whole site's architecture would have also driven the right contextual design decisions, too.    Instead, now you're facing panic and the risk of not being able to efficiently repair the major gaps detected in your site's UX...   2. Organize Content First and Prioritize Users' Needs   It's content that users come for on your website!    You should keep this in mind throughout the whole Drupal site building/redesigning process!   Everything else revolves around content:    how to make it easy to find how to add meaningfulness to it how to compliment it with stunning visuals etc.   Now, by focusing on content first, on organizing and structuring it, you basically put your future users' needs first.    Get it?   And now speaking of organizing content first and foremost, it's vital for you to realize the importance of investing time in a solid content strategy:   it helps you outline the whole site's architecture it's the step where you put together your site maps   it's now that you structure the whole content hierarchy on your future website    Basically, it's at this part of the process that you take major content-related decisions on how to meet your audience's needs and how to reach your marketing goals through the content you'll provide on your website.   Who is your target audience?   What type of content will they be looking for on your Drupal website?   Where exactly, on which pages on your website will you be placing different parts of your content, each one standing for a different stage in your users' journey on your site?   Once you have some clear answers to all the above content creation-related questions: go ahead and run a content audit (if it's a site redesigning project that you're involved in)   establish every single step of the whole content production process with all the stakeholders.   Its vital, at this step, to know what budget and other types of resources the whole content creation process implies. This way you'll avoid all the unfortunate situations where certain content-related tasks included in the “master plan” cannot be carried out due to lack of resources.   3. Harmonize Content With Design From The Very Start   Design used to come first! And it was like putting the cart before the horse.   Just think about it: the design team would challenge their “muses” to help them create a truly stunning design for the final website with no guidelines, whatsoever (or very vague ones) regarding the content that will go on the website.   The content, the main reason why users would land on your website in the first place, remember, used to come second.   Where did this work-flow lead to?   Well, it lead to an imminent clash between design and content!   Content had to get “squeezed in” or “enlarged” just to fit the given design, in other words: it was the “package” that determined the item inside!   Be better than that!   Go for a content-first strategy and thus put the basis to a healthy and fruitful collaboration between the copywriters and designers, right from the start.   This way, they can harmonize their work. They can smooth out any wrinkle in design or fill in any gap in the user experience from the very start.   4. It Enhances Understanding From Start to Post-Launch   As already pointed out in this post: once the whole team, designers here included, get the chance to work with real content, instead of lorem ipsum, they get to put everything in a context and make the best design decisions right from the prototyping phase.   With real content at hand, crafting an intuitive navigation path and an engaging web design gets a lot easier.     Well planned content, crafted so that it should go hand-in-hand with design, will enhance users' understanding, as well. Your main goal, after all, either as a web developer in Toronto or a website owner.   And this is the idea that we wanted to get to in the first place!    Users won't have to rely exclusively on directional cues, arrows and tabs in order to navigate through your website: content, too, comes in the equation, making it far easier for them to scan though and explore your site. To get to the content they're interested in.   5. Planned Ahead Content Enhances Communication   Design is communication! Nothing to argue about here.   “A picture is worth a thousand words”, indeed, but not in modern design: think about mobile users looking for answers or information, looking to buy something or in need for a certain service etc.   In such cases words come first, no matter how suggestive or stunning the picture may be!   Get it?   The very first step is to think through what is it that you'll communicate to your users. Otherwise you'll communicate them just the “channel” used for conveying the message instead of the message itself.   The “What” (what message will you convey to your end users?) should come first, followed, closely by the "How": how could you present that content in a meaningful way? How can you craft the most intuitive interface for your user?   Your turn now:   What other reasons would you add to our list if you've already adopted the content-first strategy in your web projects?   Or what objections do yo have if you still consider that content should follow design instead? Feel free to express yourself in the comments below! ... Read more
Adrian Ababei / Jan 12'2017
What Are the Trends with the Biggest Impact on Your Digital Marketing Success? 7 Most Powerful Ones
“Good things come to those who plan ahead!”   Or maybe we should have gone for this quote instead: “Those who plan ahead stay ahead of plan!”?   What do you think? Have we managed to select the 2 most suggestive sayings for the topic announced in this post's headline or... not quite? We can take a brutally honest answer, you know.   What we'll strive to point out in today's post is that digital marketing is a permanently evolving industry!   You can never ever afford to rest on your oars (not even if you've successfully managed to anticipate all the major trends which have shaped the digital marketing “realm” in 2016).   New powerful trends will emerge and new shifts will shake this industry on a regular basis; your competitors might seize them before you do and you risk to be left behind, at considerable disadvantage.   And you definitely don't want that!   There's no need to panic either! Even if we all know that the “addressees” are more or less the same (from a numerical point of view) and (yet) that more and more brands are making their debut in the digital marketing landscape, all of them wanting (at least) a “piece of the pie”.    For if you keep your cool and you remain vigilant, you can “track” the brand new influencing trends and the already emerged trends which will grow a lot more powerful in 2017.   As you run your own researches that will help you predict the digital marketing trends in 2017 with the biggest impact on your business, we'd love to share with you some of our own forecasts, too.    Ready?   1. VR and AR Will Be The New Marketing Channels   Future-oriented marketers have had a lot to learn from the whole Pokemon Go “hysteria” in 2016.   How about you? What insights into the industry's future development and into the online users' preferences and new expectations have you developed from the Pokemon Go “madness”?   Here is what we, the team working in this Toronto web design company, have learned:    that this year, after all the “Pokemon frenzy” which dominated 2016, users will expect to be engaged in even more augmented reality experiences    that, implicitly, AR becomes one of the newest/surest source of revenue for agile marketers in 2017   Whether you implement AR ads or maybe AR games into your digital marketing strategy this year, one thing is certain: augmented reality is here to stay and rule the day!   It's up to you how you'll be turning it from (just) a trend into a “cause” for your overall online marketing success in 2017!   2. Brands Will Start Targeting Niche Communities    It will continue to get more and more crowded in the digital marketing arena in 2017!   You'll need to deal with it and to adapt to the given context: more brands will emerge in the online landscape while the number of available users won't grow exponentially.   Get the point? Competition is going to get fiercer!   What do you do then? You find your “tribe”, so to say.   You appeal to your on niche market instead of wasting valuable resources of time and money trying to reach out to a mass market.   This means that you should start (if you haven' already) or to continue to personalize your content, your overall marketing campaigns in order to appeal to your niche audience.   Resist temptation of getting recklessly greedy and thus delivering “one-size-fits-all content” to a larger audience and steer your efforts to fine-tune the user experiences that you're crafting for your own loyal, dedicated community of users instead.   Food for the thought: niche communities (GoodReads for “voracious” readers, Fantasy Life App for sports addicts etc.) are perfect for you to “recruit” your future dedicated users from.    3. Immersive Content Will Be Almighty King in 2017   Make your users feel that they're doing so much more than just staring at their devices' screens!   This is the rather “rudimentary” goal that you should have in mind each time you'll “experiment” in the field of immersive content creation!   It will surely be exciting to discover where all these experiments will lead to in 2017!    For now, what we know for sure that marketers like you have at their disposal, in terms of technology, for crafting emmersive user experience is:   360-degree video live video  AR and VR technologies   From webinars, to augmented reality ads, to workshops and 360 videos, your marketing “toolbox” is already more than tempting.   Just pick the type of technology that will help you create and deliver emmersive content and get ready to “wow”  and to engage your users.    Provide them those highly interactive experiences that will instill in them the feeling that they're being challenged to participate to something bigger, that they're “actors” in the story that you're telling and not just some addressees.   4. Native Advertising Will Become an Engaging Factor    What is there left to do for a marketer “stuck” in the age of ad blockers, of the decline of banner ads, of less and less social media organic reach?   Well, a savvy marketer, like you, should “exploit” the native advertising's potential!   Instead of longing for the good old days, when one could get away with “annoying” users with ads, lots of ads, and thus to increase his (short-term) profits, how about embracing the future of online advertising?   Native ads, with their higher level of personalization, are more likely to engage users and to get shared.   And these already are 2 way too significant goals that you can't ignore in the “age of engagement”, right?   5. Live Video Will Dramatically Impact Digital Marketing   And it won't be a “shock” for any savvy marketer!   Live video streaming has been a “ticking time bomb” last year and it was expected to “explode” in 2017.   Users love live videos! They crave and demand “in-the-moment” type of content, so you can't but comply with your users' expectations and deliver it to them.   Think this powerful trend through, gather around your team of web development “gurus” and find out how you could integrate a “live streaming” functionality to your Drupal website/app if you still want to remain competitive in you marketplace.   Users have slowly got bored with “just” content. They now enjoy faster internet and own mobile devices of the latest technology, so their expectations, too, are continuously redefining.   Not only that they want to be challenged to interact, but they want to “be there”, to actually enjoy the ongoing event, even if psychically they can't participate.   Think Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and other big “players” which are using live streaming and then think of last year's live streamed Presidential debate.    6. Longer-Form Content Will Rival “White Noise”   Counteract the effects that the “white noise” type of content has on your users (making them skim, skip and filter through the articles/posts they're invaded by online) with denser, high-quality content.   If we've already “warned” you, in our 2016 posts, that long-form content would gradually take over short, superficial content, now it's a powerful trend you can't afford to underestimate: you either invest in your research, in crafting your pieces of content and personalizing them, in investing them with added value, or you'll get swept by your competition.   7. The Usage of Data Visualization Tools Will Be a Must   That's right, this year it will no longer be a matter of “should” or of “the size of the company” when it comes to using data visualization tools for collecting and efficiently “deciphering” big data.   Everything can be measured in digital marketing, remember?   Well, it's no excuse any longer no to efficiently interpret your data, especially since 2017 will witness an “explosion” of data visualization tools. Pick the one that better responds to your business's specific needs, the one that you find easier to implement and to handle and start getting the most out of your data!   You'll have no excuse, whether you're an entrepreneur or a small business owner, not to be efficiently interpret your data, claiming that the process is way too challenging for the human brain.   Now the online delivers you the right tools (and there will be much more emerging along the year) to help you collect and learn what your data “is telling you” (valuable information about your campaign performance, about your target audience etc.).   It's this data that will help you craft your personalized, targeted user experiences this year. For yes, this is our last prediction regarding the 2017's digital marketing “arena”: personalization will definitely take off this year!     What do you think?   Is it likely for these predictions to turn into some truly influencing trends this year? Which one(s) of them will have the greatest impact on your own future marketing campaigns? ... Read more
Adrian Ababei / Jan 09'2017
Is Your eCommerce Website Millennial-Friendly? A 7-Question Quiz to Help You Find Out
You'd better write this down: it's the milennial generation that will determine all your future initiatives, as a “player” in the online “arena”, and it's them, again, who'll continue to (re)shape it in 2017, as well!   There's no halfway to adapting your Drupal e-commerce website to their own different lifestyle, different experiences, different set of behaviors and overall different mindset.   If (maybe) you've “shyly” started to consider them as an emerging buying force and, subsequently, soon to become your target audience in 2017, now it's certain: you'll either model the user experiences that you provide on your site after millennials' different expectations or, well, you'll be left behind, stuck in baby boomers' age.   Since this time of year is perfect for evaluating and examining how you've been running your business online (so that you can outline your first business initiatives in 2017), let us assist you with 7 questions which will help you estimate just where you stand.   Whether your e-commerce website is luring millennials in, or, on the contrary, it drives them away.   1. Do You Deliver The Best Mobile User Experiences?   Millennials crave convenience! They want to get things done, to access the information they need or to shop the products they want while on the run: quick and easy!   They're pretty much “glued to” their mobile devices! Therefore, you either go for a mobile-first mentality (that Drupal 8 is already famous for) or you run the risk of losing an entire generation of potential customers!   Direct most of your web development and web design efforts for making your website perform and look great on mobile.   And once you've achieved that, mind you don't rest on your oars: remain “vigilant” and always on the look for new and new ways of perfecting the UX you'll delivering to your highly-demanding millennial shoppers on mobile.    If you don't do all it takes so that they can easily flow through your website, during their visits, you can as well kiss millennials goodbye!    2. Do You Incorporate Philanthropy Into Your Business?   That's right, the millennial generation is far more likely to genuinely devote itself to philanthropic causes as compared to their parents' generation! There's also a certain level of coolness associated with philanthropy.   How does this core value dear to the younger generation affect you, as a company? Well, if you want to reach out to these potential customers and to turn them into long-term loyal customers, you need to incorporate philanthropy into your business strategy.   Choose a philanthropic organization for directing your donations or stand for the eradication of a global disease, it's totally up to you how you choose to get involved. Just make sure that you broadcast your philanthropic initiatives on your website.   Remember: as compared to baby boomers, charity/environmental awareness is no longer a matter of personal choice to showcase on certain occasions. It's a way of life for the millennial generation (both personal and professional)!   3. Is Your Content Vivid, Funny or Rather Corporate-Like?   Forget all about corporate language if you want to efficiently reach out to millennial shoppers on your Drupal e-commerce website!   Take a “brutally” honest look at the current content on your website and if it sounds impersonal and rigid to you, consider giving it an overall content facelift for 2017.   Millennials appreciate vivid, funny and personal content. Therefore, jump of the video content trend that's so popular right now and rewrite the existing written content so that it should tell (in a slightly informal language) a story, your story. Make it fun, engaging and unique!   If there's something that millennials hate, that's “boring” corporate language and content lacking a personal touch. Keep that in mind!   4. Is Your Site's Design Simple, Yet Visually-Intriguing?   Keep your website's design simple, yet not simplistic!   In other words, strike a balance between a minimalist web design and visually-appealing elements. Simplify your young users' journey from your homepage to your shopping cart page, but make sure you don't bore them, either.   In a nutshell: millennials need to access the information they're looking for immediately and effortlessly. But they want to be entertained, surprised and engaged, as well!   Therefore, you'd better learn how to juggle with various web design techniques, that any web designer in Toronto, familiarized with the latest trends, would apply, in order to reach these goals:   ample white (or negative) space eye-pleasing directional cues, vivid colors, intriguing graphics, non-conventional fonts etc. minimalist web design techniques   Note: deliver your message in a straightforward way, make sure to go for an inviting (friendly) theme on your site and stay away from “common” when you're striving to simplify millennials' journeys on your site.    5. Does Your Website Load Instantly?   Remember: you're striving to reach out to the very first generation of digital natives!   Your millennial shoppers are highly technology savvy, so you simply can't afford not to keep up with them.    Make sure your website loads not just quickly, but “instantly”. And here your minimalist web design will make your best “ally”.   Keep in mind that your younger audience does not appreciate brands that compromise speed for added value. They want both: quality, engaging content and instantly loading web pages.   Therefore now, at the beginning of the year, it's the best time for you to run a speed test on your site and to figure out how you could optimize it for mobile so that its pages should reach better load times!   6. How Socially Active is Your Brand?   Millennials are more likely to get familiarized with your brand and to get to know your products/services, on social media, rather then by visiting your website.   So, how are you going to greet them there? How will you introduce your brand to them on social media?   You should direct a great deal of your efforts towards putting together an active social media presence for your brand. Keep your channels constantly updated with both promotional and engaging types of content. Aim at winning their trust there, at building a community of social media active millennials loyal to your brand!   Also, remember that the millennial generation has different expectations. They're expecting their favorite brand (hopefully you) to attend to them individually. To answer their questions and to take criticism well.    Be active, be positive, be always ready to engage with your millennial customers on social media and: be creative when you craft your social media presence!   7. Do You Provide “Complete” Online Shopping Experiences?   Online shoppers Millennials expect it all!   You just have to deal with it!    How? By offering them not just “an” online shopping experience, but a “complete” online shopping experience.   They want to access product information fast and effortlessly, to have product reviews and price comparisons displayed instantly.   They want a customer-oriented call center to answer their questions fast and all the shipping estimates-related info to be delivered to them the instant they've added an item into their cart.   There's not halfway here! If they're don't have this information and facilities at their fingertips, millennials will just go to another brand, no matter how amazing your products might be.   Convenience plays a major role in millennials' busy lives!     Now take your time to answer to all our suggested questions and to put together your millennials-centered business strategy for 2017!   ... Read more
Adrian Ababei / Jan 05'2017
The Top 8 SEO Resolutions You Should Make This Year
Deep in budget plans and marketing strategy drafts these days?   We so know the feeling and we're in the right position (since we're pretty much in the same situation ourselves, as well, here, at our Toronto web design company) to empathize with you!   But we'd like to go beyond (just) empathy! We'd like to help you in your online marketing efforts specific to this time of year!   In this respect, we've put together a list of 8 SEO resolutions that you should make and keep this year. Take them as some truly efficient little "adjustments", for they won't “shake” the foundation of your business plan, nor will they ruin your budget.   You should see our suggested SEO commitments, that you should make and stick to in 2017, rather as some mindsets that you should start adopting, as a marketer, or as different angles that you should start approaching SEO this year.   1. Create Mobile-First Experiences    “Mobile-first” and “experience” will be some truly influencing words/trends in 2017!   The online marketing arena has given us enough clues in 2016 that we're about to enter a new mobile-focused era, clues ranging from Google's Accelerated Mobile Pages to Facebook's Instant Articles, to Apple's News.    Now if we are to relate the first one of these 3 major clues, the AMP, to your SEO success in 2017 we should say that:   The little green lightning signaling AMP pages to searchers will attract visitors to your website   AMP is assumed, in the online marketers' community, to be a raking factor (a “supposition” that you should keep a close eye on till it turns itself into a fact)   As for the second powerful word of 2017's digital landscape, “experience”, expect it to influence marketers' approaches to SEO this year.   How come? Well, it won't be a matter of “pleasing” search engines anymore. SEO will become a matter of “pleasing” your visitors landing on your site from their mobile devices first.   The higher ranking on search engines will come too, if you play your “crafting the best mobile experiences” card right!   How do you ensure a good experience to your mobile users?   You improve your web page's load time on mobile devices   You make your users' journeys on your website intuitive, accessible and convenient, designed for them, consumers of mobile experiences, rather than just adapted, subsequently, for mobile.   2. Optimize Your Site For Your Visitors First   … and you'll be automatically optimizing it for search engines, too!   If in 2016 you've started to “shyly” adopt the “customer-first” type of thinking, as an online marketer, and to slowly leave the search engines-oriented type of thinking behind, in 2017 you should turn it into a must-adopt mindset.   Don't think exclusively about the algorithms and about winning search engine' favors when you optimize your website for mobile: do it with the “image” of your visitors in mind!   How intuitive are their journeys on your website? Are they enjoying the best mobile experience during their visit on your site?   Remember that Google turned user experience into a ranking factor for mobile, so don't be too surprised if it will do the same for desktop sites, too, in 2017.   Meanwhile, be prepared! Get to know your audience and to constantly improve their experience on your website.   Here are just a few strong reasons why better user experiences will grant your a better search engine ranking:   the more engaged with your brand your visitors are, the more chances you have for them to convert your inbound traffic   the more pages they'll visit on your site and the more they'll linger on your site, the more chances you have to get a better ranking   happy customers (happy with your site's load time, with how logical and intuitive their whole journey on your website is) translate into a lower bouncing rate and implicitly into a higher conversion rate and also in higher chances to win Google's attention (in a good way)   the better experiences you'll craft for your visitors, the more likely they are to “spread the news” about your brand    SEO= Optimized User Experiences in 2017!   3. Write Longer-Form Content   In 2017 you either go with the flow, which is the rise of the long-form content, or, well, the flow leaves you behind!   Deal with the fact that readers have gradually got sick of the same short-form and rather superficially written content.   They've started to look for content which should provide them more added value . This calls for more time invested in research and for more resources of time (again) in crafting and in elaborating longer-form, richer (more detailed) pieces of content.   Here are some benefits that high quality, long-form content will bring you:   you'll get to make a winning difference, to set yourself apart from competition you'll build trust (which is gold in your relation with your potential customers) the two above benefits will automatically grant you more conversions   4. Audit, Audit, Then Audit Some More   “Laziness” is one of the main reasons why SEO campaigns fail or grow less and less efficient in time.   Therefore, a “must” resolution to add to your list of resolutions for 2017 is to regularly audit your marketing campaigns. Make a pledge!   Proactively auditing will help you fix issues even before they get to turn into problems.   5. Perfect Your Video Editing Skills   In 2017 it's no longer a matter of “should I go for video content?”, it's a matter of “how can I create better video content?”   Adding video content is no longer an innovative trend, it's turned into a common practice for the “actors” of the digital world. Just start counting all the major platforms (Facebook here included) which have started to use live videos for complying with their users' demand for such type of content.   Now the question that arises is: how do you perfect your video content?   Let us give you a few tips and tricks:   go for more creative, even surprising ideas   insert helpful information, practical advice for your users   always keep in mind the entertainment factor    consider collaborating with charismatic hosts   invest in better production resources   6. Embrace the Voice Search Trend    Users have quickly embraced the trend of looking something up online just by uttering the right search terms and it's certain that in 2017 they'll grow to like voice search even more.   So, how will you adapt your optimization efforts for complying with this ever growing demand from the part of your customers?   Just take some time to think about that, to actually visualize your customers performing their voice searches and you'll find the answers to how you can perfect their experiences on your site from this perspective, too.   Consider the fact that voice searches rely on longer search words!   7. Start Using Rich Snippets   Rich Snippets and rich answers will grow more and more frequent this year. So, you'd better learn to deal with it, to get on top of this SEO trend.   It's all about easing Google's work (and thus ensuring your higher ranking): micro-formatting makes it easy for the search engine to go through the whole content structure on your website.    8. Make a Habit of Constantly Analyzing Your SEO Efforts   Are you already measuring and analyzing your SEO efforts, on a regular basis? Then you should consider doing it even more frequently in 2017!   Still, that's not enough: you should aim for “efficiently” tracking and analyzing your data. You don't just need to gather more and more data, but to actually handle it better.    How? Ask the right questions, examine the key sections of your campaign so that you gain truly accurate and helpful insights, rather than speculations.   Don't guess your future SEO initiatives, but determine them based on the efficiently analyzed data that you dispose of.   Everything can be measured! Remember? So, commit to measuring your efforts more frequently and more efficiently this year!     And this was the last (but definitely not the least) resolution that we advise you to make and to keep in 2017 if one of your main goals this year is to be an (even) better online marketer.   Now your turn! How does your own list of SEO resolutions look like? Which are the key commitments that you've inserted there?   ... Read more
Adrian Ababei / Jan 04'2017
Why Would You Want to Start a Company Blog? 11 Powerful Benefits- Part 2
See? We're a team of our word!   We're back, as promised in our yesterday's post, with the other 6 reasons (from our list of 11) why you should inaugurate 2017 by starting your business blog. One that will give a major boost to all the digital marketing efforts concentrated on your company's website and on your social media channels!   As above mentioned, your primary goal, when you start a company blog, is not to make your sales “explode”, but: to build trust. If your customers come to trust your business blog, then they'll get to trust your company, too, and it's only as that point of the lifecycle that they'll buy your products or become willing to try your services.   It's a “healthy” mindset that you should have when your start your company blog: build trust first (through quality content that adds value to your users' lives), then you'll gain credibility, then you'll earn your authoritative voice in your niche and it's only then that: your conversion rates will improve!   Now let's cut it short and let us reveal to you the other 6 more reasons (in addition to the 5 ones presented to you in our previous post) why you should start a company blog. Reasons that we, as a web development company in Toronto, are always presenting and detailing to our customers before we start working on their web projects.   6. It Helps You Develop An Authoritative Voice    Authority goes hand in hand with trustworthiness!   It's quite logical, if you come to think of it:    you strive to post only high-quality content on your company blog, to bring value to your readers' lives just through that specific content (we don't bring in your products/services in the equation, not just yet)    thus you'll become trustworthy in your readers' minds   and they'll turn from readers who will have already benefited from the value added to your blog content to customers eager to enjoy the benefits of your products/services, as well.   Don't you think it's one of the best strategies for any future-driven entrepreneur? Invest now (in your blog) and you'll thank yourself later!   “Later” you will have already become an authority in your niche, a go-to authority for your customers, you'll become trustworthy (trustworthiness: your ultimate source of leads) and you will have won them over.   And yet: turning this possible scenario into reality does require considerable resources of time, expertise and creativity for crafting your high quality pieces of content posted on your business blog.   We won't hide it from you: it will take you plenty of time and work for making your blog work for you!   7. It Connects You With Influencers In Your Niche   Quality content doesn't attract “just” potential future customers, but experts in your niche, as well!   You never know who might land on your blog and what influencer in your field your posts might leave a great impression on!   And you never know what fruitful collaborations and great business opportunities might derive from those “decisive visits” on your company blog!   8. It Boosts Your Conversion Rates   A rule of thumb: once you've started a company blog, you need to keep it constantly updated!   You either stick to a content publishing plan or you'd better not start your blog in the first place.    How come? Since it's not just valuable content that will help you build trust and then brand loyalty, as well, but consistency, too.   And trust is what will bring you those conversion rates that you've been dreaming about!   9. It Turns Your Brand Into a Go-To Source of Value    What's in it for your reader? What will he/she get out of your posted article?   These are the key questions you should ask yourself each time you've completed a piece of content! If you can't actually come up with an answer quickly enough, then you should go back and rewrite your piece of content or write a brand new one instead.   One that should: inform educate entertain  … your readers (ideally it should reach all these 3 goals).   You don't just pass on (any) information. You first decide whether it will be helpful for your readers, whether the way you'll write about it will bring added value to their lives.    It's that added value that you'll provide that will help you build your online presence, your influence in your niche and, eventually, the “aura” of a trustworthy brand, which will translate into better conversion rates.   10. It Generates More Leads   Now here's another “more than obvious” type of reasoning: the more pages you have on your Drupal website, the more chances you have to collect leads!    Logical, right?    Now consider your future company blog: more blog posts means more pages, which inevitably means more chances for you to insert email opt-ins, quote requests, form submissions and so on.   Why should you leave money on the table when you can actually earn them through your business blog?   11. It Makes a Great Frame for Showcasing Your Discounts   Let's delve deeper into the future of your (future) company blog, after it has been fully fledged with high-quality content, after it has helped you build a wide community of loyal readers/customers around your brand. Now it's the perfect time to turn your blog into a frame for showcasing your promotional material.   Having a loyal audience who not only that constantly reads your blog posts, but buys your products/services, as well, offers you the chance to post your promotions and discounts on your blog. It's the right channel where you connect with your loyal customers, so why not get the most out of it?   Still, make sure you don't push it, that you don't overload your blog with promotional material, eitherwise you'll witness the boomerang effect: the more you'll “annoy” your readers/customers with your promotions, the less loyal they'll become to your brand!   In other words: why should you rely exclusively on your social media channels for “shouting” your discounts, when you can use your (future) popular blog? This way you'll automatically attract readers on your Drupal website, where the discounted products/services are, thus streamlining the whole online purchase process.   These are our 11 answers to your legitimate question: “Why should I even bother to start a company blog?”.   If you're still hesitant, we're looking forward to read all about your objections in the comments here bellow. If, on the contrary, you have some more reasons to add to our list, feel free to share! ... Read more
Adrian Ababei / Jan 03'2017
Why Would You Want to Start a Company Blog? 11 Powerful Benefits- Part 1
Have you made some business-related wishes, too, on New Year's Eve?   We wish you all the luck achieving all your business goals for 2017 and, moreover, we're here to help you steer your efforts in the right direction, by offering you valuable information throughout the year.   Still, before we go on to the “valuable information sharing part”, let us dare you to answer to a slightly “tricky” question: What makes you stand apart from the crowd of entrepreneurs and small-business owners in your niche striving to "wow" their customers (and their possible collaborators and competitors, too) with their business websites?    Does your Drupal website feature a stunning design?   OK, so a great web designer from Toronto has designed your site so that it should visually delight your visitors, but is that enough to make them come back?   They'll see the same “visually arresting” design over and over again after all (for no reasonable website owner would go for a complete redesign of his/her company website on a weekly or on a monthly basis, right?)   Isn't this rather just a short-time “wow” effect instead?   Does your website “lure” your visitors with “hard to resist to” products or services?   Then you seem to have all the chances to distract your visitors' attention from all your “rivals'” similar products/services.Your website might just steal all the spotlights in your niche, but how do you actually light their path to your great products/services showcasing website?   Also, which will be the signals that will let Google know that your website's worthy of its attention?   Are you relying exclusively on the content that you boosted your business website with when you launched it (product descriptions, services description, a few words about the team behind and a few lines about your company's values) for getting inbound links and for ranking for long-tail keywords?   Just be honest with yourself when you answer these questions!   If you want to set yourself apart in today's digital landscape you need much more than “just” amazing graphics and great products/services.   You need to offer added value to your customers.   You need to engage.   You need to “humanize” your business (even if just a bit).   You need to share some of your expertise with your audience and not just to sell them stuff.   You need a company blog!   Now, without any further ado, let's break down the 11 reasons why “creating a company blog” should be on top of your priorities list for 2017:   1. It Makes a Great “Channel” For Engaging With Your Customers   No major or minor brand can afford to “just” present/talk to something to their audiences, since their customers expect to be engaged, they look for interaction and “dialogue” instead of “corporatestalk” (or better said “monologue”).   This being said, a company blog, through its comments section, will help you create the perfect context for “chatting” with your audience.   Challenge them to share their own suggestions with you, their feedback and critics, too. They'll, then, realize that you care for their opinions and that will make them stick around, while you'll get to collect some “gold” information about them. Information that will help you craft your future engaging blog posts.   2. It Invests Your Brand With a (Unique) Personality   “Blogging”, even if it's technical information that you share with your audience, tends to be a lot about how you write and not just about what you write. Blog posts are not simply information-stuffed articles, you know.   No reader, no matter how technical savvy or expert in a certain field might be, will land on your blog to read posts written in a purely impersonal, lacking personality type of style.   Trust us, they don't! Any Toronto developer will confirm you this.   Instead, dare breathing some life into your blog posts (instead of making them sound as if written by a machinery), make them tell chapters of your company's story, too, while informing or entertaining your audience.   A little joke here and there, a highly suggestive quote, an unexpected comparison or, even better, a true personal story would instantly draw them in, keep them engaged, keep them reading (for let's face it: 99% of blogs in a niche cover pretty much the same topics, so it's how they do it that makes all the difference).   3. It Helps You Put a “Face” On Your Audience   Remember that we've mentioned, in our last post In 2016 about learning "to “exploit” analytics and adopt a “data-driven” business mentality in the year to come"?   Well, 2017 is here and you need to learn to get the most out of the priceless data that your blog offers you "on a silver plate".   Take a look "behind the curtains" and discover which posts are more popular among your visitors. It's this data that will determine the choice of your future topics.   Take a look at the comments that your users are "spoiling" you with. They, too, tell you plenty of valuable information about your audience, if you just know how to decypher them.   Find out what they liked and disliked about your blog posts, what suggestions they wrote there, what words and expressions they used more frequently, whether they're beginners or experts in the field etc.   4. It's No Longer a “Should”, but a “Must” for SEO   People love high-quality content which adds value to their lives (whether it keeps them informed, it educates them or entertains them) and which they can relate to, which “oozes” personality, so to say.    And search engines love the content that people love.    That's probably the simplest way to resume how the whole “getting yourself a constantly updated blog for SEO reasons” scenario works.   If we are to detail it a bit, here are some of the favorable contexts for business growth that your blog will create for you:              1. More content (more blog posts) means:    more pages under your domain name indexed in Google   more chances to rank for a wider array of keywords   increased traffic on your site   the chance to rank not just for certain business-specific keywords, but for higher-converting, long-tail queries, too             2. Valuable content means:   building trust and credibility, 2 foundation stones of your relationship with your audience more backlinks (or inbound links, if you prefer to call them this way), including those “priceless” ones coming from high-authority blogs, from experts in your field etc.              Imagine your blog (one fully fledged with high-quality content) as a constant “leads converter” in the years to come, a great business initiative for any future-oriented entrepreneur.    And you do fall into this category, right?   5. It Boosts Your Social Media Efforts   You can't even start drafting a social media strategy without considering the need to post great (and regular) content right?   But where will you be getting this valuable content on a regular basis from?   From your future company blog, obviously!   Why should you share exclusively content created by other “gurus” in your field, when you could share links to your own blog posts? It will help you direct your users to your Drupal website (and this is a highly valuable strategy especially if it's an e-commere website that you own).    Moreover, your future blog will make an amazing source of unique, high-quality content for your email newsletters, too.    How does an email “reminder” highlighting 5 of the most popular posts within a month sound to you?     And these are but 5 of the 11 benefits that we've selected for you, benefits that you can “exploit” for growing your business with the help of a valuable and engaging content-loaded blog. We'll reveal to you and detail the other 6 benefits from our list in tomorrow's post.   Stay tuned! ... Read more
Adrian Ababei / Jan 02'2017
Which of the Digital Predictions for 2017 Will Have the Biggest Impact on Your Business?
“Fortune favors those who dare” it's a saying which, adapted to the digital context of 2017, will easily turn into: “Fortune favors agile brands!”   How agile is your brand?   Nowadays it sure isn't enough to just “jump back on your feet after each blow you've taken from am unexpected, unforeseen quake in the digital marketplace. You need to to go beyond that if you want to remain relevant in your market: you need to be able to predict and, if possible (and this is what truly influential brands do), to be the one “causing” these major shifts.   How quickly do you embrace innovation? How adaptable and capable are you, as a web development company in Toronto, to “decipher” the given data of the actual digital marketplace for predicting and even “writing” its future trajectory?    It's no “shocking” news for any brand operating in the digital ecosystem that SOCIAL and MOBILE have been the trends that acted just like some “dictators” of the digital world in 2016.   You had to shift quickly from “mobile friendly” to “mobile first”, from “going social” to almost “moving your entire business on social media”, to collecting all the valuable data issuing from your the social media accounts for drafting all your future business decisions.   What other new influencing “actors” will step forward on the digital market stage, in 2017, for stealing all the spotlights and for impacting your business to a great extent? Let's find out:   1. Immersive Content Experiences   2017 will be less about “consuming” content, but about “experiencing content”!   Therefore, be prepared to respond to this ever-growing challenge: telling your story to your audience in a way that should “provoke” them to interact, to participate though their imagination. Accept the fact that your online customers want to be challenged to stop playing the role of passive “content consuming” users, that brands have given them in the past, and to accept far more active roles instead, to get involved.   So, to resume: 2017 will be all about experiences and, if we tackle the issue immersive content experience, we can't but point out a type of content that will dominate the digital market in 2017:   VR-content: you can no longer ignore the tremendous popularity that virtual reality content has gained in 2016. You either embrace it and incorporate it into your brand's whole online content strategy or your business gets overtaken!   Where do you add that some of the influential brands are putting a great deal of efforts for making the usage of a headset culturally acceptable (given the immersive software's growing popularity).   2. Conversational Experiences   See? If “engage” has been “the star word” of 2016's digital landscape, it looks like “experience” will be the one rocking in 2017.   Conversational experiences are, in fact, messaging apps “with a human touch”, we might say. Since we've already pointed out that virtual reality will rule in the year to come and since we've talked about the idea of “experiencing content” as opposed to “consuming content”, here we can easily “detect” a growing tendency towards dialoguing as opposed to instant messaging.   Conversational interfaces will definitely “seduce” users with their personal touch: they'll get to ask questions or to perform certain tasks during a pleasant conversation, rather than going through a bunch of drop-down menus or to keep typing text messages.   It's convenient, it's far more “natural” and “humanized”. And speaking of the latter, predictions for 2017 point out the key role that “intelligent assistants” (your “dialogue partners” so to say) will play in boosting conversational interfaces' popularity, but about this aspect we'll be talking about in detail in one if our 2017 posts (it's a promise!).   3. Chatbots   Even though chatbot experiences are strongly linked to the conversational interfaces trend that we've just point out, we still see it as a trend on its own instead of just a “segment” of the previous one.   After Apple's now more than famous Siri, other major brands (Sephora, Mastercard) have started to adopt the “man-machine type of communication” trend.    Chatbos are here to stay and you should not just consider, but actually prepare your plan for starting to integrate your own brand's future chatbot into your business strategy for the year to come.   It provides that human touch (that users have been craving for and that now they are “demanding” for) that “humanizes” digital interactions, so reflect on that during this short period of time left till we all welcome 2017!   4. Application Program Interfaces: API    Now this is the digital trend of 2017 that will test not just your agility, but your ability to seize opportunities of growth in tying together (and therefore sharing, too) with other technology/software companies for mutual benefits.   By far the best example of such successful partnership between Ebay and Paypal, who've understood an opportunity of growth by tying together through API (in the name of an enriched “user experience”).   How about you? Are you willing to cooperate with another “player” in your market and to embrace digital transformation with the help of an application program interface?   5. Big Data and Analytics   Everything can be measured now in the digital world!    Now, how are you going to turn this fact into the driving force behind your business's success in 2017?    You should start by getting the most out of your data. Examine really closely your analytics, dig up all the valuable information about your customers, those that will help you put together their accurate profiles.   In other words: take no decisions, either minor or major, and start putting together no strategy, no business plan for 2017, before you've closely analyzed all your data! Learn to “exploit” analytics and adopt a “data-driven” business mentality in the year to come!   6. Glocalization   What do you get when you combine two powerful trends of the digital marketplace, globalization and localization? You get a superpower-concept: glocalization! A concept that Toronto developers have started to incorporate in their web projects.   Resulting from the whole “user-centered philosophy, this trend is predicted to become even more “demanding” in 2017.    How does it impact you, your business? Well, you need to start “speaking your customers languages” and to adapt your whole online presence to their own cultural environment.    Gone are the days when users were thrilled by the mere fact that they were able to access their favorite websites from wherever they were and to buy their desired items with just a few clicks: so simple and convenient.   In 2017, even more than in 2016, users will start to expect more, to get even more demanding: they'll expect the websites/apps they'll access to offer them “online experiences” and not just products and services.    And you do agree that no user will enjoy a whole experience to the fullest if it's not in his mother language and fully adapted to the cultural context that he's a product of, right?   7. Platforms Will Rock in 2017   It's the perfect time for you to start embracing a “platform thinking”!   Big brands like Apple, Android, Uber and Airbnb are already enjoying the benefits of such type of business mentality. It's about “cutting out the middle man” after all!   And it's definitely not just about your own obvious advantages, as a company (for we'll continue to delve even deeper into the “User's era” in 2017): it's about streamlining all the processes/transactions taking place on your cloud-based platform and therefore about making your customer's whole experience more agreeable.   Give it a try! If big brands are doing it already, why shouldn't you see it as a digital trend with a huge impact on your business' growth, too?   8. User Experience   “There is nothing new under the sun”, you might say. Enhancing the user's experience has been the ultimate goal of companies operating in the digital markeplace.   It's true, yet you should expect an exacerbation of this reality (for it's no longer “just” a trend).    As already stated, customers will become more and more demanding and therefore more and more hesitant to engage to brands that don't pay attention to their preferences in detail.   What can you do for coping with this reality that 2017 will enhance?    Use all the valuable data at hand and adapt all your strategies to the key information you have in your analytics: what do your customers want, what do they need, how do they land on your website, what pages to they prefer, what can you tell about their preferences from the comments they post on your social media accounts etc.?   Collect all the valuable data, analyze it and use it for perfecting your customers' experiential journey on your website/app!   9. Video Content Will Be King   That's right! The “Content is King” expression will turn into “Video Content Is King” in 2017.    Putting together video content is no longer the issue now (since it's got easier than ever to make a video), but “crafting” videos is.   Those who manage to impress and to engage their audiences with truly stunning, visually-appealing and powerful (through the loads of emotions they're upgraded with) will be the ones benefiting from this digital trend.   Will you be one of these agile business owners?   10. Age of Community   2017 will be all about co-writing brand identities!   What does this mean? It means that you'll need to start (if you haven't already) co-opt your employees and your online customers in the “writing” of your brand's identity.   It means you'll need to “loosen the reins” and to be more receptive to the input that your own “community” of users will offer you. And you should encourage them to offer it to you.   Here are 2 examples of big brands doing just that, co-opting their customers to “help” them shape and reshape their own brands:   M&M with their “Vote for Your Favorite Peanut” contest Ziploc with the “Inspiration” section on their site where customers get to come up with new, innovative ideas for using their famous plastic bags   Take some time to reflect on all these predictions for the year to come and to consider to what extent each of them will impact your brand. Then, decide which should be the first measures to take for being one step ahead of these 10 predictions before they even get to turn into some highly influencing trends!     ... Read more
Adrian Ababei / Dec 23'2016
How to Create a Content Outline for Your Website? And Why Should You?
“My team of content writers “bursts” creativity, so why should I waste any more priceless hours/days planning content? They're all talented, they're adaptive, they'll figure out what type of content to craft and  to deliver on-the-fly!”   Let's assume that it is you who's uttered/thought the above question (or at least one differently formulated, but conveying pretty much the same idea)!   Our answer to it would be: “ then you should be even more motivated not to waste your team's outstanding load of creativity and remarkable talent by sending them out on the “battlefield” with no type of “ammunition” whatsoever, backed up by no strategy.”    They might just end up wasting all their talent and creativity doing “urgent fixes”, responding to unexpected content challenges, joggling between the time they would spend on writing and the time needed for planning future topics.    And here you can easily add all the frustration issuing from the fact that your competition will have taken the necessary time needed to understand what the users in your shared market need and, therefore, what they search for when they go online.    Now, wouldn't that be such a shame? Such a waste of talent and resources!   So, think about taking some valuable time to sketch your content outline as a “gift” (that's right!) you're making both to your team and to your visitors:   for your team (although it might seem such a dread to spend a few days sketching, drafting, debating upon, brainstorming and coming up with a V1, V2, V3... Vn structure) it's a guarantee that their workflow will unroll as smoothly and as organically as they hope. Once the supporting structure of your website is set up, your information architect and your content writers will just have to comb through the existing material and “populate” those pre-established pages with high quality content for your visitors, it's also a guarantee that once they land on your website their own journeys will be as intuitively as possible. Everything will, by then, have been properly tested and ideally structured: where the homepage links to, how each page opens up a different sub-page, how all those sub-pages interact with one another etc.    And now that we've tackled the “why”, let's detail  the “hows”, too!   Here are the main steps that we take whenever we design our own content outlines for the web development projects (whether they imply building brand new websites or revamping old ones) that we work on here, at our digital agency in Toronto:   1. Draft Your Website's Architecture   This is the very foundation stone of every successful website in the online landscape!   Although the process might vary to some extent from website to website (depending on whether it's a corporate presentation website, an e-commerce website or maybe a blog instead), you can easily boil it down to 2 main stages:   you put together a structure with all the pages and sub-pages that will form your website   you set up a content strategy before you stat writing any piece of content for your new (or your newly revamped) website   I bet you've sort of guessed these 2 steps already, haven't you? Just that probably you haven't yet labeled them as “must-follow” and included them in a whole content strategy, right?   It's during this preliminary stage that you set up and organize all your pages, including your navigation structure.   While putting together this structure you're actually trying to sketch your visitors' journeys/behaviors on your website, as well. Where will they be more likely to head to after visiting your homepage? Which are the pages on your website that he/she'll visit more frequently?   It's also the step where there's a lot of research to be done (nobody said it would be all just brainstorming and “bursting” innovative ideas; there a lot of “dirty work” involved here, as well): study your competition's content, “ask Google” what your target audience is usually looking for online, which are their points of interest, their needs etc.   The good news (for there is also a bright side to it, it's not just researching and putting together intricate structures) is that you get to be as loose as you want to at this point of the content outlining process!   Write down everything that crosses your mind, scribble notes, doodle, dare to come up with different visions of your website's final structure, feel free to revise and to constantly improve your draft! This is the step where you're allowed and even encouraged to do all that.   Later on, once you have all your content strategy and content structure set up, it will be far more difficult to apply changes without risking to affect your website's whole information architecture.   Therefore: feel free to express all your bold and daring ideas. Now it's the perfect time for that!   2. Jot Down Your Content Ideas   OK, so now that you have the whole “skeleton” of your website put together, now that you can easily visualize what role each page plays in the big “puzzle”, how about starting to liven it up with some content?    Take baby steps, don't rush in to write long descriptions of all the future posts! Instead, start with a brainstorming session where you put together the topics and headlines.    So, topics and headlines! By now, after all your research that you've "enjoyed" doing during the previous step of your content strategy planning, you must already know which are the many points of interest of your future visitors. Rely on your findings for jotting down your future topics and, from there, try coming up with some possible headlines, too.   It will be a good idea to try and put down some possible keywords, too, and even maybe to write down some short descriptive sentences about each topic that you will have settled for (we guarantee you: these sentences will be “gold” later on, when you start to actually write content for your website).   Note: try remaining as “flexible” as you've been during the previous step. “Populate” each page and sub-page with possible topics and headlines, but take them as “hypothetical”, don't be afraid to revise and to replace them with more suitable ones if the context demands it.    3. Plan The Content That Will “Populate” Each Web Page   Now it's time to go deeper into your website's “skeleton” and, after you've jotted down ideas of topics and headlines, to actually outline what type of content will populate each page.   Will there be image galleries, tables of contents, slideshows, embedded videos?  And if so, how will they be distributed on your website? Feel free to write down a few words about your possible future posts, headings and sub-headings, everything content-related that crosses your mind at this point.   Plan all the types of content and their place on your website and you'll thank yourself (or at least your team will definitely be more than grateful to you) later: once you can see the big picture, it will be so much easier to just get down to work and to actually create the content itself.   Let's sum up these three major steps that any “healthy” content outlining process should include:   setting up your website's architecture writing down ideas for each one of your web pages conceiving and structuring the specific content that will populate each one of the pages   And this is how we do it! This is how we structure the content that's “scheduled” to breathe life in the websites that we build here, at OPTASY.   ... Read more
Adrian Ababei / Dec 19'2016