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Take your daily dose of (only) relevant news, useful tips and tricks and valuable how to's on using the latest web technologies shaping the digital landscape. We're here to do all the necessary information sifting for you, so you don't have to, to provide you with content that will help you anticipate the emerging trends about to influence the web.

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
How to Conduct a Content Audit and... Why Should You? A Step-by-Step Guide and Main Benefits
Here's some food for thought: If you don't know where you are, you can't figure out where to head to!   What does this mean in the context of a website content auditing?   It means that if you're clueless about the content existing on a website (or you have some sort of collected data, but you haven't gone deeper with your content analysis) you can't possibly set up any business goals for the given website. Or you might just draft them based on some superficial insights.   How are you supposed to migrate from Joomla to Drupal, for instance, or to apply any improvement-oriented change on a website if you don't know know enough about its whole intricate network of content layers and about  how these can affect your whole performance-boosting strategy?   So, you got our point: it is vital for you to closely evaluate the content on a website before you rush in to put together any sort of content strategy, before you set up any daring business goals.    And Still: Why Is It Crucial To Run a Content Audit?   More often than not even your client doesn't have an in-depth knowledge of how the whole content “mosaic” on his website looks like.   Therefore, you could see the content audit as the base of the "pyramid” that your whole project is (whether this project implies a redesign, integrating a totally new CMS, migrating the website from an older to a newer version of an CMS, coming up with an SEO strategy etc.).   It's the “diagnosis” that you can put on this website and depending on which you can, later on, come up with the suitable “treatment” (aka business development strategy).    Here's what you get to “dig up” during this content evaluation process:   valuable information about the workflows and content life-cycle   certain content patterns   “gaps” within the content, that need to be filled up with strategic content   you get to identify the “weak” pages on a website, those with low performance    How Do You Actually Evaluate Content on a Website?   Now that we've pointed out why it is vital for you not to underestimate or, even worse, to skip this preliminary step of every web project, here comes the next legitimate question: how it's done?   Well, you practically set up 2 main “barometers” for evaluating each web page:   performance per page (analyze HTML tags and keywords)   specific business goals   And here we need to stress out this last idea: let your specific business goals guide all your insights throughout this auditing process!    Note: you should start moving your imaginary magnifying glass across those particular pages of “critical importance” for the given website first! They could be the ones including products/services or the “About Us” page, but it depends greatly on each site's particularities and goals.   But What Does This Audit Include More Precisely?   1. Personas   If your (or your client's) website's content doesn't “talk the language of” or doesn't meet the needs of its persona, then it's as useful as a beach umbrella for an Eskimo.   Therefore, first of all:   you need to check whether that persona's profile has already been sketched you need to check whether the already existing content on the website “speaks his/her language” you need to establish, at this point, what content stays as such, what content needs improvements and what content goes, based on whether it's efficiently adapted to that persona's specific profile   2. Content Inventory   At this step you “just” pile up all the content on the website. So, no need to “examine” it yet (take baby steps; “patience is a virtue!”, you know), just make sure you collect all the existing content and put it together in an inventory.   3. Stakeholders Meetings   They are the ones that have been “pumping up” content on the website, so they should be the ones holding the most valuable information regarding the site's target audience.    Therefore, make your your “investigation” includes chit-chats with these key “content handlers”, too!   4. Content Gaps Evaluation   Compare how the existing content is performing to how it should have or you would like it to perform in the future.   Identify the “weakest links”: on which pages content is less effective than on the rest of the website.   Next, after you've identified the causes, come up with solutions, too! How can you fill in those gaps with proper, strategically crafted content, aimed at meeting your visitors/customers needs?   5. Your Competition's Content Evaluation    Your competitors' content is “pure gold” for you!   “Spy” on them, examine their own content, their whole content strategies, try to identity their own “weakest links”, too.   Collect as many valuable data as you can regarding their own personas, how much content, what type of content (whether it's high quality or low quality content) they have on their websites etc.   Keeping an eye on competition is a method that will never “grow out of trends”! At least not in matters of content auditing!   6. SEO audit   A content audit without an in-depth SEO audit is pretty much like a diet based on exercise, but not completed by healthy foods, too. Only half efficient!   So, grab on your imaginary magnifying glass and scrutinize the depths of the website from an SEO perspective: examine the meta descriptions, keywords, URL structure, 404 errors, title tags.   Do a little “dirty work”, so to say, which will help you figure out how all mighty Google perceives this website!   What Type of “Content” More Precisely?   By “content” we do refer to both on-site and off-site content, you know.   On-site types of content that you should analyze:   homepage   category pages   product descriptions   landing pages   blog   etc.   Of-site types of content that you should analyze:   social media   ebooks   emails   whitepapers   etc.   This macro-evaluation will allow you to identify whether the brand message is consistent through all these various types of content.   How Do You “Wrap Up” and Present Your Final Insights?   And here you are now, with an impressive “pile” of valuable findings that you've collected during your content audit process.   How do you present your conclusions to your client now?   Let us give you a few helpful tips:   put them all together in a compelling story (never underestimate the power of storytelling)   put together a strategy: clear goals+ clear means for meeting these goals   select the “key” findings to present   start your presentation with good news and continue with “issues” that you've identified during the audit     And here is how you run a content audit! At least this is how we run it here at our web design company in Toronto! ... Read more
Adrian Ababei / Dec 15'2016
6 Easy Tips on How to Use Visual Contrast for Designing Alluring Hero Images
How many times did the inspired title of an article made you “reward” the copywriter with a click and then: surprise, surprise! You landed on the website hosting it and you couldn't have found your way out of there any faster?   The photo/graphic/video in its header was so “dusty” and boring or, on the contrary, so flashy and annoying, stuffed with clumsily grouped elements, overloaded with information and showing off a totally uninspired color choice!   Now, answer to this question: how many times did you open a newsletter or landed on a new website and from that very moment time stopped? It captured your attention and you kept on scrolling and clicking, then did some more scrolling! It was the best “scientific” proof supporting time's relativity theory!   The hero image got to you, you wanted more and more of what that site had to offer and ended up spending more time there than you planned (maybe even buying something or subscribing to their “crafted” newsletter)!   If you want your own website visitors' experiences to be more like the one in the scenario no. 2, then you should learn to master these contrast-creating design subtitles:   Think Through Your Color Choice   Color sure isn't the element you should pick in a rush! It can either wow your users and propel your message to them or it can instantly drive them off.   Carefully consider the message you wish to convey (your whole's brand's identity) and then make your selection based on that and that only.   As a general rule of thumb: you don't need to go for a strong color if it doesn't represent your brand's personality, just to catch their attention. It will eventually be a major turn off.   Also, before you go ahead and add splashes of your “winning” color to your hero image, be sure that: it matches the rest of the design (preferably a simple one if you're going for a bold color).   With cohesion (with that stunning image or visually-engaging video that you're planning to use) and contrasting colors in mind, feel free to enhance your brand's message by simply adding the right color to your hero image: colored typography, colored user interface elements. Such a subtle, yet effective “trick” when you manage to make the right (color) choice!   But what if there's just no “match made in heaven” between the hero image and your brand colors?   In that case, you adapt:   try a color overlay on the photo test a black and white solution for the text or image put the strong colored elements in your navigation bar   If you've tried all of these creative “fixes” and there's till no chemistry between image and colors, consider losing the mandated color.   Moreover, color alone can be “the hero” of your hero image, you don't need an image at all! Combine it with powerful text lines, featuring beautiful typography, and you have your hero image that impacts users just by its striking (crafted) simplicity.   And here we get to the “extreme minimalism” principle again! Such a powerful web design trend!   Wow Them With Bold Typography   Here's another way of using contrast to catch the eye: beautiful and bold lettering contrasting in size and (or) color!   Keep it simple, but carefully craft its simplicity!    Consider the typeface selection and get creative when it comes to choosing your words (that's right, meaningful, powerful words, not a whole paragraph). Go for the true emotions-triggering ones all while relying on:   fonts that pop out (set against contrasting backgrounds)   unusual font sizes (either undersized or oversized; the "out of the ordinary" will always catch attention)   Think About Light and Dark Spaces    After lots of mixes and matches, rearrangements and a whole dose of creativity you've finally managed to pull off a great “light vs dark spaces” contrast for your hero image and them boom: all your work is ruined when you try to make it responsive.   The text, images and buttons are all chaotically displayed now!   Does this work scenario sound familiar to you?    Then here are your options:   go for another image (it's hard, I know, especially if that was “The” one and you've spent so much time scanning though hundreds of images to find the perfect one) go for  color overlay go for another typeface, color and size   Do a Strategic Cropping   “It's a trap, don't go for it (like many other designers do)!”   We're referring to the widely accepted idea that the hero image should “fill in” the first screen!   Be better than that! Think outside the box:   let the content therein determine how you should crop it  accept and implement the idea that your hero header could be either smaller or larger than the browser  give the other elements on the page their due importance, too dare going for an unusual shape (it will certainly intrigue and catch attention) consider an unusually deep image that will only incite visitors look for more   Make Your Call to Action Stand Out   Here's another trap that you get caught in: losing the whole purpose of your hero image!    You've worked so hard to make your header wow your users with a visually-arresting, engaging graphics, you've strategically picked your colors, your beautiful typography, too, you've added the perfect emotions-triggering/persuasive words: it's a true work of art!   And still: haven't you forgotten about the “main character” itself?   Yes, the call to action button! It should be there, right into the spotlight!    It should let your visitors know what you want them to do (besides staring and letting themselves be visually “spoiled” by your hero header).   How do you make your call to action stand out and grab their attention?   You rely on color or size contrast! It should strike a powerful contrast with the backing image and, moreover, you should empower it with clear, simple and readable words.   Let them know that they should “buy” or “subscribe” or maybe “read more” in just a few straightforward words!   Add Animation    Movement will always catch the eye!   Therefore, it makes a highly efficient attention-grabbing element for a hero image.   Now don't think that you'll have to pull off an entire cinematographic experience (you shouldn't go that way, you shouldn't make your hero image way too flashy and overwhelming).    Simplicity is key, remember?   Therefore consider going for subtle movements for your header, one that should aim at:   surprising the users  standing out (from the other “just” text or “just” video featuring ones)   How about you?   Are you making the most of contrast when you create your own winning hero images? Have you, maybe, discovered other ways of using this deign concept to engage your visitors and to make them “stick around”. “Other” than the ones we included in our list above, maybe? Feel free to share them with us in the comments below! ... Read more
Adrian Ababei / Dec 09'2016
How to Speed Up Your Website: 10 Most Effective Optimization Techniques
Websites sure have changed dramatically since the rise of the internet, wouldn't you agree? When competition for winning User's attention with gorgeous design and high quality, interactive content intermingling with online marketing strategies/tools has become so fierce, what do you do?   How do you resist the temptation of  overloading your website so much that it will end in annoying your visitors since it will load all its "awesomeness" way too slow for their high speed lifestyles?   Here is where we come in, lending you (or just reminding you of, since we're sure that many of the following "tips and tricks" on optimizing your website for gaining some more speed are no news for you) some helpful advice on how to regain control over the speed of you site (and to gain the amounts of traffic you've been fantasizing about and the conversion rates that you've dared hoping for and not just a beautifully looking website for your (and your friends' maybe) own pride and joy only.   1. Is it Really Worth the Effort?   First things first! Before you even put together your action plan you should realize and accept that optimizing your site is not just about speeding it up: it's also about the UX and SEO benefits that it comes with.   It's about improving your users' experience while on your website and thus turning them from first-time visitors into loyal visitors (and from visitors into to customers).    Just think about it: the quicker content on your site loads, the less bandwidth your visitors use (it will reduce your bandwidth costs).   2. Aim for High Speed, Not Size   Aim for the (apparently) impossible: while your site gains (inevitably) more weight, strive to keep it optimized and efficient!   Constantly monitor its speed, while keeping up with the trends (which are building websites with rich-content pages and outstanding imagery, which risk to weight them down).   3. Go for Modular Code   You might think now: "But, wait a minute: modular code will just add even more bloat to my website!"   It's true, it will "load" it with more options for you to choose from, BUT think about modular code this way: you get to put together multiple common pieces of your code using less. Take combining two CSS classes, for instance: module coding gives you the same results with less "resources" that could bloat you website.   And that, my friend, it how efficiency looks like!    4. Draw A Line Between Development and Production Level Code Bases   Handle the two environments differently! In short: realize the difference between compressing the code and compressing the images on your website.    the code's compression depends a great deal on the language you're using (go for Google’s htmlcompressor, for YUI Compressor for CSS, or any other method that suits you)   the images' compression could just as well mean using Photoshop's "Save for the Web" tool. Keep diving into the "sea of tools and best practices for image formats, compression algorithms, quality monitoring and so on” available online.   5. Keep It Super Neat   It's a common sense practice not to "abuse" your server, don't you think?    Just imagine it "exhausted", trying to efficiently handle all the messages you send it: web fonts, JavaScript, CSS style sheets. If you "empathize" (and you should) with it, then start applying these tips for easing all its hard work:   load stylesheets at the top and scripts at the bottom   bundle up your images, nice and neat, so that it should be easier for your site to load them   6. Go From Poorly Written To Readable Code   Besides "heavy", large images, un-optimized code is another major factor that slows down your website. So, as regards best practices for writing you code (for reaching top speed), we have 2 tips for you:    if possible, call JavaScript last (by the time JavaScript starts slowing everythinf down, your site will have already displayed the markup, processed the HTTP requests, the CSS. etc.)    write identifiable, short CSS selectors: they will be far more speedy in doing "accomplishing their mission"   7. Optimize Your Fonts   Remember that we've talked about beautiful typography being forecast as one of the UI trends in 2017? Well, looks are not enough when you're approaching your site from its efficiently/speed perspective.   You need both beautiful and optimized fonts if you want to keep your site's performance high, all while enticing your visitors with gorgeous design. Here are a few tips for optimizing your fonts:   compress, compress, then compress your fonts some more (use FontLoading Api for instance)   juggle with maximum 2 fonts   go for font-face (whenever you need to access external font resources)   select only the variants you need (no need to overload you website with all the available weights and styles)   ease your site's job: go for  WOFF2, WOFF, TTF, and EOF formats   use CSS inlining   8. Do It For Google   Pleasing Google and pleasing the User are (or at least it should be) the goals that drove you when you actually built your site (or your client's) in the first place, right? Well, then if you've already started to draft a “How to speed up my site” plan in your head while reading this post, you're on the right path: Google rewards developers/site owners like you!   The almighty search engine will always appreciate (and thus rank better) optimization-oriented developments practices. It's pretty logic: a happy user (“happy” for the web pages he/she accesses load content really quickly and doesn't make him/her lose valuable time) means... “happy Google”, so to say.   And how does this impact you? You do the math!   9. "Tame" Your Third Party Scripts   In a few words: don't let the “little ones” run the show on your website!   Mind you monitor all those third party scrips (Facebook “like” buttons, analytics trackers etc.) lest they should considerably slow down your website!   10. Limit Your Dependency Requests   How do you limit all those dependency requests adding bloat to your website and slowing down the downloading process? There are a couple of good practices that you should consider starting today:   use a CDN (especially if you're website's a large, heavy-content one)   use SVG or sprites methods for handling images from your style sheets    This is it, our “decalogue” of good practices for optimizing your website for higher speed. One more thing we'd like to add: there's no such thing as “a too fast website”, there's always room for even more optimization!  ... Read more
Adrian Ababei / Nov 30'2016
10 Tips To Make Your App Steal the Spotlight
What's the ideal dosage for putting together the perfect blending of functionality and design in an app? Does functionality come first and steals design a bit of its fame or, on the contrary, it's the fine looks that catch the eye and this first good impression gets, later on, strengthened by great functionality, easiness to use and all that?   Does clean and clear, simple and elegant, refined and minimalist mean... basic?    How can you be unique in a huge mass of uniqueness and creativity bursting apps developers? What if uniqueness hinders functionality? What if functionality constraints uniqueness.   Well, these are just some of the questions you might ask yourself now, when you've got your “moment of pure genius”, you've had a greater than life idea of an app and now you face the challenge of making it steal the spotlight, of making it set itself apart from a huge crowd of great apps, all trying to woo and entice the User.   We don't have the answers to all of your questions. Still, we have 10 tips and tricks that we hope will boost light on your path (to success) and boost your confidence as an app developer:   1. Make it Unique   “Duh!”, you might say, but still, we need to stress out (over and over) the high importance of being ten times more unique than your competition.   You need to “exhale” creativity, so wrap up your app in distinctive features and appealing (nothing like your users have seen before) visuals that will help it stand out from the crowd. Pour uniqueness in all the stages of your app's development: from its name, to its graphics and to the engaging content you insert in.   You can't afford to go for “safe and easy” and “nice and cozy” when competition is as high as in apps' world!    Extract uniqueness from every feature! So what if the idea of your app has been already exploited over and over again? Think outside the box:   drop in some good sarcastic humor it that defines you   go for a totally new type of design   focus on one single detail, that has been neglected by everyone else, and cast a light upon it   put in some of you as a unique human being able to tell his/her very own unique story    and success will come, we guarantee you. Just that the road to success is paved with uniqueness, that's all!   2. Put Your Lights (Keywords) On   Put your keywords to work! They'll be the shedding light upon your app!    Still, don't rush in to pick basic info related to your company that anyone can easily find online or keywords overused by your completion already.   Stick to your uniqueness-paved road to success. Remember? Carefully choose the keywords that best speak out of your app's amazing features. Select your “own” keywords!   3. Detail It   It would be such a shame to leave out some of the awesomeness of your app, not to shed light on some of its great features now wouldn't it?   Therefore, make sure you accurately describe your app to your users! Start with a concise, yet “powerful” sentence that will present/market your app's distinctive feature (what it does that others don't, what makes it stand out, how does it... ease or brighten up your user's life)?   After he/she will have read your description, your user has to get instantly familiarized with your app's main functionality and luring features. Make sure to put in all the info that makes your app unique, to include all its beneficial features in its description and to make your text as easy to read as possible as well.   Convey the very essence (what makes it different from is previous versions an what makes it set itself apart from other similar apps), but don't spare details that could help your users get familiarized with it.   4. Think Global    Going for a cross-border distribution strategy is not an option, it's a must!   It's either a “Dare and think big!” or a “Stay connected to the globalized society!” mentality. Pick the one that suits you best and make sure you keep this in mind: create multiple versions of your app for different key markets around the world.   Adapting it to new and new environments, cultural differences.... now that's going to be a “sweet” challenge that you'll have to respond to!   5. Dazzle Them With Graphics   Again, you might think (as in the case of “uniqueness”): “Duh! Of course my app has to feature outstanding graphics!”   Well, we just wanted to double check that you're aware of how great looks sustain and enhance functionality! So, go ahead and mesmerize them with great graphics!   Let your jaw-dropping images convey the message you want convey and to stir the type of emotion you want to trigger in your users. Strategically use the colors affiliated to the mood you want to create through your app. Should your app fill up your uers with energy or rather to help them relax after a hard day at work? Make great graphics serve your goals!   6. Go For Eye-Catching Icons   “Don't judge a book by its cover!” So not true in case of great apps!   Face it: it's that tiny little icon that will determine your app's trajectory: up for fame and success or... down to “eternal” oblivion. Which one should it be?    Here are a few tips for you, for creating “attention-grabbing” icons:   lose the words: no need to get your icon stuffed with text no one can read and which, moreover, tends to outshine the icon's awesome graphics. Don't sabotage all your work from the very beginning! keep it clear, simple and different: take that small window put at your disposal as a tiny canvas that you have to project your app's specificity on. Here, conceptualization is key if you really want it to make it stick it to your users' memory (you surely can think of some great brands which are easily recognizable though their so very conceptual logos, right?). Consider your icon as your app's logo in apps' world and, therefore, put a great deal of effort into its design! make it simple, yet not rudimentary: you don't want your icon to have an unfinished, unpolished look. So, although you have to stick to simplicity, do feel free to play with colors, highlights, reflections, shadows   7. Keep It Simple    Remember the UI trend forecasted to make waves in 2017, the one related to “extreme minimalism”, that we pointed out to you in one of our previous posts on this blog?   Well, here we are stressing out the importance of keeping your design simple and elegant once again. Keep in mind that your users will be on the road and not comfortably seated in their desk chairs at home, facing their PCS.   So, whenever you think you've put together a minimalist design for your app, ask yourself this: “Should this be the very last variant or I can still simplify it (and thus refine) it even more?”   When it comes to UI deign, a simpler interface will definitely keep your users engaged some more. So, place your bid on simplicity! Effectively use your colors and ease your user's job, making it simple for him/her to do more with less touchscreen gestures. Keep it simple and your first-time user will turn into a regular one!   8. Make It The Easiest to Use   Considering the frenetic lives we're living and the tremendously fierce competition in apps' world (with so many other apps out there “fighting” for your users' attention and loyalty), making your app easy to use shouldn't be your goal anymore. You need to make it the easiest one to use instead!   It's not an easy job for you, we're well aware of that, but if you manage to achieve his ultimate goal, if you manage to skillfully mix and match chunky font with intuitive swiping and bright colors and to come up with a super easy to use app, then expect to see it there, on apps' “walk of fame”!    9. Build Some Buzz Around It   Spread the news about your awesome app, show it off to some of you target users, in a few words: create some buzz around it. Don't rely exclusively on its official launch for releasing it into the wild!   Strategically put together the proper “launch” environment for it:   rely on keywords-related methods (App Search Optimizatio and Search Engine Optimization are but 2 solutions you could choose from) design the screenshots that make the perfect curiosity-stirring teasers   10. Design It For Them, Your Target Audience   That's right, no need to be a daydreamer and think that EVERYONE, regardless of age, profession, sex, level of education, location etc. will love your app!    Instead, make sure to dazzle and make a difference in your own' segment of the whole audience targeted by the apps' ecosystem. Once you've defined your target audience's portrait, keep it in your head throughout the entire app development process!     These are our 10 tips for you, aimed at helping you make your next app stand out from the crowd! How does your own “toolbox” look like? What other trends, surveys and advice from those who've already “made it big” in apps' world do you rely on in your work as a remarkable apps developer? ... Read more
Adrian Ababei / Nov 28'2016
Is SEO Still Relevant? Why? And What Is The Importance of SEO for Your Own Website?
                   A pretty suggestive analogy, isn't it?   With all those voices, getting more and more strident, claiming that “SEO is dead” and with the major “seismic waves” shaking the digital world (that the rise of the social media optimization trends have caused), you might ask yourself: what's the importance of SEO nowadays?    Well, allow us to:   assure you that SEO is far from being dead inform you that SEO is in fact evolving into its better version, adapting itself to all the new challenges of the digital world   Here are just some of the arguments that we've put together to help you "stengthen your faith" in SEO:    IT'S YOUR ONLINE STORE/WEBSITE THAT YOUR CUSTUMOERS WILL STEP IN FIRST   Before welcoming your potential customer into your physical store, you need to welcome him/her into your online store.    It's here that he'll be looking for reviews that would eventually influence his final decision, it's here that he/she will make first contact with your products (with their more or less eye-pleasing photos and with their more or less relevant and creatively-written, engaging descriptions, too).    OK, so you can't actually welcome your online customer with a smile on your face (you can't be online 24/7 and you might just overwork a face muscle if you stuck a warm, welcoming smile on your face for too long), but you can make him/her at least sense it. How?   A user-friendly, easy to navigate-through website is key (eye-pleasing colors, easy to read content.) A quickly loading website A lack of annoying pop-ups and ads An amazing user experience, overall, is the key to success   Needless to add that all these common sense SEO-specific techniques will rank your website higher in search engines results.   For your customer it will be pretty much like in this analogy that we've come up with: shopping in a store placed close to the main entrance of a shopping mall, compared to “enjoying” a shopping experience in a store as hard to find as a clue in a hidden object game.   BOOST YOUR BUSINESS CREDIBILITY   Although almighty Facebook might have, in your opinion, eroded some of almighty Google's authority, the later still remains The One who bestows authority upon websites (and therefore businesses).    So, if, due to your SEO endeavors, your website shows up in top 3 websites that your future visitor sees the moment he/she types his specific words into the search box and, moreover, if it keeps getting listed in that top each time each he types in other words related to his searches, as well, than he'll (even if many times unconsciously) draw the conclusion that: if Google picked your website and granted it the honor of being listed among the first ones in his search list... well... then it must be worth it.    Take the search engines as the ultimate warrant with an authoritarian voice that can empower your business with credibility before your future visitors/potential customers.   ENHANCE YOUR BUSINESS BRAND VISIBILITY   Here's a short definition of the “new” type of SEO: “it’s changed so drastically that people really need to learn to think of it as less of a marketing tactic, and more of a branding play.”  (Sam McRoberts, CEO of VUDU Marketing)   So, if nowadays SEO it's less about striving to stuff your website with keywords and irrelevant backlinks, so that Google should push you ahead of your competition's website, but about brand visibility, about a far more refined and nonetheless challenging version of SEO, it's more than obvious that: if your target users keep reading your brand's name, over and over again, as they search for their needed services or products online, automatically brand awareness is being build thanks to SEO.   It's the whole SEO strategy, integrated into the bigger picture of your online marketing plan, that actually makes this “miracle” possible: that your customer keeps bumping into your website each time they look for their desired products/services.   ATTRACT TRAFFIC   So, the “new SEO” is all about user-experience, about branding, about engaging content, but even so it still revolves around the same mighty goal: attracting traffic to your website.    The more visitors come in, the more chances you get to actually turn their visits into     sales/subscriptions.    And yet, the real beauty of SEO is not even mere traffic at all, but the qualified leads that this traffic is made of.    Just think about it:   you're not annoying your customers off by interrupting their favorite TV shows with your TV commercial you're not distracting (and annoying them again) your target clients with a flashy newspaper ad as they're trying to read a piece of news Your visitors already have a certain need/interest (“sort of interest” is gold, compared to none) in the services/product that your provide so convincing them that you're the best provider is already a half-won battle.    GAIN PRICELESS INSIGHT INTO YOUR CUSTOMER'S PROFILE   This is gold!    Just think about it: you don't (again”) have to annoy your customer with phone or face to face surveys for collecting valuable data regarding him/her.   Upgrade your website with Google Analytics and then you can just “dive” into a “sea” of highly valuable data helping you put together your users' profile: where are they located, at what time of the day do they access your website, what devices do they use, what products to they prefer, how much time do they spend on specific pages on your site etc.   Then, it's totally up to you how you turn all that data into fuel for your website.    IN CONCLUSION   The importance of SEO hasn't been undermined by the rise of the social media optimization, it has simply adapted to the new challenges that social media faced it with:   it's quality content-focused  it's user experience-determined it's brand awareness-driven   Good old SEO practices (such as non-overloading your websites with keywords and backlinks, having authoritative voices in your field linking to your website, owing a website that doesn't take ages to load and which is both easy to navigate through etc.) are more relevant than ever.   People will keep going online to book/buy/subscribe to certain services/products whether they'll be using their PCs or their mobile devices.   Wouldn't you want to be there, in the first row, greeting and welcoming them to your website rather than throwing all your hard work to trash (by focusing exclusively on social media marketing) and so giving the chance to your competitors to welcome them to their own websites?  ... 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Adrian Ababei / Nov 15'2016
Wordpress vs Drupal – Which One To Pick?
There’s an age-old battle going on between the best platforms to build your website: Wordpress vs Drupal vs Joomla. Today we’ll tackle just the first two and compare some of their features in order to help you with your decision. Remember, picking the right platform for your website is essential since you’re likely to invest a lot of time and effort into it. If you already picked a platform, you can also read more about our top 8 Drupal web development tools.   In the late 2000s Wordpress was the preferred choice for most online projects, e-commerce websites, personal blogs and the preferred platform for web development companies. Back then websites featured minimal content types and most pages featured just a content block with a few buttons. Nowadays, times have changed and web development is becoming more and more focused on user experience than simplicity – this means more content types, more features and plenty of attention to the user interface. These needs made Drupal so popular in recent years – here are a few things that need to be mentioned in the Wordpress vs Drupal battle.   Wordpress vs Drupal – Security concerns The biggest difference in the Wordpress vs Drupal analysis is security. Plenty of government websites are built in Drupal simply because it offers site scale and enterprise-level security. Even Whitehouse.gov is built with Drupal. On the other hand, Wordpress offers limited security as hackers can use vulnerabilities from plugins to crack their way through and wipe your website – most vulnerabilities take place at the server level. Drupal features a few notable hosting applications that help manage any security risks, Pantheon and Acquia.   Wordpress vs Drupal – Responsive development & design The first thing you need to figure out when it comes to responsive development and responsive design is how your images are managed – your images won’t necessarily scale perfectly when viewed on different screen sizes. Both Drupal and Wordpress offer solutions to making images responsive but the solutions are different. When working with Drupal, you can set your images sizes from the admin panel with the use of the Image Style module. The advantage here is that you don’t have to modify your PHP files to set your sizes. Both Wordpress and Drupal are designed agnostic which means you’ll pretty much build your themes however you want. You can try a starter responsive theme which can help speed up your workflow.   Wordpress vs Drupal – Mobile development and mobile themes If you plan on having a dedicated mobile theme for your website, both platform offer starter themes to help you along. There are plenty of Drupal mobile themes available on drupal.org and as for WordPress, WPTouch is the norm. Now, the biggest difference between Wordpress vs Drupal is how the content is handled on mobile devices – When using Drupal you can create other content fields for a page that will simply display when viewed from a mobile device. It’s also worth stating that you should place your Drupal mobile theme in a sub-domain such as m.drupaldomain.com - Wordpress mobile themes can run on the same subdomain. Content editing on mobile is rather easier with Wordpress, making it an excellent choice for blogs and other personal websites.   Wordpress vs Drupal – SEO concerns Neither platform has a definite advantage when the website is built following the SEO best practices. Here are a few aspects you should keep in mind with regards to SEO: Content Delivery Networks can be used for both platforms Schemas can be added to Wordpress and Drupal as well Page loading time – Drupal’s default caching feature is very powerful and it doesn’t require any additional alterations – Wordpress needs to use caching plugins.   Wordpress vs Drupal – Upgrading With WordPress, your database will require an upgrade which can be done in the background. Your code is upgradable as well. A new version of Wordpress is released every couple of months but that’s not the problem – your plugins may not be upgraded that often which in turn can lead to security risks or lack of functionality in your website. With Drupal the code is not upgradable but the database is – upgrading from Drupal 7 to Drupal 8, for example, may require a re-design. Your database content can be migrated to a newer version but the code will most likely need to be rewritten.   Conclusions In the end, the Wordpress vs Drupal argument ends with the customer’s demands – your demands. Do you need different content types and different page templates? Do you need enterprise-level security? Do you need a small website or a larger, robust site with plenty of security and different user permissions? Given these aspects, Wordpress is more suited to small websites and blogging websites while Drupal is recommended for larger projects with multiple authors and a need for tight security. ... Read more
Adrian Ababei / Oct 04'2016
Why Would Hire a Team Developing Mobile Apps for Companies? 7 Main Reasons
Mobile apps for business purposes are not just for huge companies such as Wal-Mart. Actually, more and more small and mid sized businesses are turning to mobile apps in order to grow their business and gain new clients.  Here are a few reasons why you should get in touch with a mobile app development company:   Increase your visibility through a mobile app Mobile app development can be a real advantage when considering the fact that your average US citizen spends more than two hours a day on their mobile phone. By turning to a mobile app development company, you’ll be able to tap into those long hours spent on mobile devices – this can only lead to more conversions and more sales.   A mobile app is a direct marketing channel Mobile app development can offer many benefits such as providing your customers or potential customers with prices, general information, news, messages, user accounts and search features but one of the biggest benefits of having a company mobile app is being able to create a direct marketing channel which you can use to provide your customers with special information such as promotions or special sales. Since mobile devices now play such a big role in our lives your conversion rates are sure to skyrocket each time you offer a special promotion.   Your mobile app provides value to customers Mobile app development allows your company to provide customers with valuable information and in the same time loyalty programs can be implemented with ease – think about allowing your customers to collect certain discounts or rewards through the mobile app. This is a great way to get more return customers and more downloads for your mobile app.   Mobile apps equal brand recognition Mobile apps for companies can contribute a great deal to brand awareness. You’ll have a direct way to target your customers in any way you please – you can make your app informative, functional, stylish or fun. It all depends on what your ultimate goals are but all in all you should create an app that your customers will love. Mobile app development companies usually create mock-ups and do plenty of research before delivering the finished product – this is an essential part of mobile app development. Another benefit of mobile apps you should keep in mind is the fact that if you can get your customers to interact with your app or your company, they’ll likely buy your service or product as well – this is referred to as „effective frequency”.   Mobile apps increase customer engagement No matter what product or service you’re selling, your customers need a quick and sure way to reach you in their time of need. By having a messaging system built within your app you’ll gain a new and different way to communicate with your customers. Restaurants are the best examples – instead of calling the restaurant in order to book a table, your customers can do it with just a few clicks.   A mobile app will help you stand out from competitors Although hugely popular, not all small businesses have mobile apps – this is your chance to shine. By being one of the first or even the first to get a mobile app going you’re sure to gain some attention from customers and partners alike.   Customer loyalty One of the biggest reasons why you should get a mobile app for your company is improving your customer loyalty. Mobile app development allows your company to be at your customer’s fingertips all the time which in turn can turn your brand into something your customers will respect, rely on and even love.   These are just a few ways in which a company can benefit from having their own application – improving customer loyalty, customer engagement, brand awareness and visibility. ... Read more
Adrian Ababei / Oct 03'2016