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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.

Keep Information Density Under Control on Your Website
Of course that we all know “the middle way” is the safest path to follow and yet... it's not that easy to find it or to stick to it, right? How do you know how many choices to tempt your website users with? How can you tell when content becomes “too much content” or when the delivered information is discouragingly scarce? Striking a balance, when it comes to information density is, undoubtedly, the work of a “chemist”: pouring precisely the ideal dose so that the final “potion” is, indeed, useful to your users! There's no such thing as one-size-fits all principles to follow here. Yet, there still are some more-then-useful guidelines to consider when it comes to achieving the proper dosage of content to greet your visitors with on your Drupal site. Ready? Here they are:   1. Information Density DOES Have a Huge Impact on the Overall UX So, before we go any deeper into the whys and hows of keeping information density under control on your Drupal site, you should first acknowledge its high influence on: usability navigability user experience  How come? Well, it's pretty obvious: the amount of content that you deliver via your website, to your users (taking the form of written content, images, color, controls, textures) will determine whether he/she will keep navigating or leave your site in frustration. Moderation is key, lest you want your heavy load of information to bog him/her down or the lack of information to drive him off your site! Always have the USER in mind wen you create your wireframes! Web design trends and movements should come second.   2. Information Clutter and the Paradox of Choice A whole collection of visually-striking images... attention-grabbing videos... multiple calls to action... testimonials... rates... recommended products... super long copy... and, in this overcrowded web page (for yes, this content, in all its forms, is displayed on a one single web page) “sprinkle” some, let's say, celebrity endorsements, too! Can you visualize this heavy-content page? Can you easily “digest” all that “virtual” content and effortlessly make your way through it? So, you get our point: always put yourself into your Drupal site visitors' shoes and always anticipate whether you risk to deliver excessive information, to offer them way too many choices. Which will automatically “paralyze” them, instead of engaging them. You'll end up confusing them! “Bombarding” your users with way too many options and too much visually-distracting information for them to “digest” will only result in a bad user experience. One of the possibly winning formulas: Headline + An Image + A Description + The Price +A Call to Action + Some Reviews Per Product.    3. Balancing Information Density: Tips and Tricks  Now, before we go on with our list of tips and tricks, let us share with you a couple of key questions that will indicate you the right path to take for achieving... perfectly balanced information density: "What Is The Goal I Want to Achieve With this Web Page (Landing Page)?"   "What Tasks Should My Drupal Site Visitor Carry Out?"   "What Information Does He/She Need in Order to Complete These Tasks?"   There! Once you have the answers to these 3 key question, you'll step on the good path to properly adjusting the amount of the information that you'll present on your website. And now, the promised tips and tricks for pulling off a reasonable information density: attention-grabbing call to action button persuasive, clear and concise call to action text  clean and neat design with a strategic use of white space  fluid, intuitive user flow and path to reaching your web page's goal  visual hierarchy (masterfully use texture, color, white space to direct the user's eye where you want to guide his/her attention to)   And since text without exemplifying images is like cake without frosting, take a look at this example of clean design and information structuring leading to zero ambiguity or paradox of choice: A few elements, that clearly communicate to the user which are the company's available services = good UX!   4. When Minimalism in Web Design Becomes a Pitfall Just because it's “trendy”, it doesn't mean that it's going to serve your site's goals of usability and navigability! Do keep this in mind when you decide to “declutter” and to overly simplify your Drupal site's design! Less sure is more, no doubt about that! Just make sure you don't turn “less” into “scarcely enough”! When in doubt, go for a “moderate minimalism” formula: An eye-catching headline + The value proposition + The description + The tagline + A concise and attention-grabbing call to action!   And, as a golden rule: always consider the nature of your Drupal site, its audience and their expectations before you “blindly” adhere to one web design ideology or another. Needless to add that if it's a magazine's website that you're working on, adding just a few “teasing” lines of text on each page will greatly affect the UX.   5. And Yet: High Information Density's Not Always a No-No Surprised that we're actually suggesting you to go “against the tide”? In fact, we're just asking you to take some time to consider these possible good aspects of an information-heavy web page: users don't need to keep scrolling down for reaching the information they're looking for. It's all there, on the very same page!   since it's in the users' habit now to almost unconsciously use the “Control+F” combo of keys to find the information they're searching for really fast, you'll be actually streamlining their quick on-page searches   you'll create the impression of abundance and especially if it's a e-commerce Drupal site that you own/design, greeting your users with an entire collection of striking images, articles and items on promotion will undoubtedly give the impression of abundance (again: always adjust the information density to the very nature of your own site)   In conclusion: what you should avoid, at all cost, is not really high information density, but poorly organized, crammed on-page content! "Clutter” will always discourage users. High information density is necessary for certain websites (news sites, for instance), so you can't afford risking to fall into the “pitfall” of minimalist design. And not delivering the content that your visitors land on your site for in the first place. Now speaking of efficiently structuring information on a web page, take a look at the example here below: although it's a content-heavy page, you can still fluidly “navigate” trough the displayed content!     6. How to Design for High Information Density Now that we've see that high information density is something you shouldn't avoid at all cost, given the nature of your own Drupal site (if it's precisely information that your users visit it for) and that poor alignment and information “clutter” is what you should stay away from, let's discover together how you can pull if off right by using some web design “tips and tricks”: cluster similar content: this way you'll manage to efficiently structure large amounts of information, “asking” your users to invest a lower amount of effort for reading and assimilating it   go for a basic, “familiar” layout: when your web pages is “heavy on content”, the last thing you want is to “exploit” your users' attention with an overly complex, innovative layout. Keep it simple and go for a common one instead, one that all users will instantly understand: the standard horizontal area on top standing for the main navigation, a column on the left playing the role of a secondary navigation...   rely on graphics for breaking up text-packed copy: font variations, pictures, graphic elements strategically “sprinkled” in your text will make it easier for users to “digest” it   effectively use the white space on the page: and since white space is “gold” on a content-heavy web page, use it wisely for breaking your long passages of text into smaller, “airy” chunks   use color for enhancing navigability and readability: using the same color for the same type of content will instantly make the entire information load on your web pages look more structured, more organized and... easier to follow. The mental effort that you'll challenge your users to invest will be significantly lower.   So we've tackled issues of good alignment, effectively grouping content and all kinds of web design tricks for making a content-packed web page as little mentally exhausting for the user as possible. Now let us continue with a “bad example” for supporting our “pledge” for perfectly structured, organized content. Here it goes:   Wrapping Up Moderate minimalism is the right path to follow!   High information density is not always a bad thing, yet crammed, cluttered and poorly organized content is!   When the nature of your website requires for a considerably heavy “load” of information to be delivered, rely on web design tips and tricks for breaking your content into smaller chunks and for efficiently organizing it!   There are cases when high information density is definitely a no-no: when accessibility is a critical issue to consider when your site addresses a senior audience when your site is marketing/branding-focused and thus aiming to visually delight the users rather than delivering them their daily “dose” of information ... Read more
Adrian Ababei / May 16'2017
Drupal 8 Bootstrap Themes: 7 Most Popular
Speed, high performance still play their leading roles on the “online stage”. And yet, their “dictatorship” wouldn't be possible without other factors, in supporting roles, such as looks/web design. So, taking an informed decision when it comes to “putting a face on” your website, selecting from the overwhelming wide collection of Drupal 8 Bootstrap Themes available out there, is crucial. And here is where we, the OPTASY team, come in to trim your discouragingly heavy load of Drupal 8 Bootstrap Themes to the “five-star” ones. To those 7 ones that are both on Drupal themers and Drupal 8 website owners' top favourite lists.  Still, before we go on with our list, let us answer the legitimate question that might be “bugging” you right no: “But why a Bootstrap theme?” Here is why:          it's THE truly powerful front-end HTML framework for building interactive web pages it aligns with Drupal 8's mobile-first approach it's actively maintained: its popularity is backed-up by numbers: from all the Drupal 7 and Drupal 8 themes installed on March 2017 over 140,000 have been Bootstrap-powered And now, let's proceed with our list of 7 best Drupal 8 bootstrap themes, ranging from the best rated ones to the best selling ones so far in 2017:   1. TICO, Head of the Drupal 8 Bootstrap Themes List And no wonder why it's head of the list: it has something for everyone: a modern look and feel for the website visitor a fully responsive design a whole set of cool tools for Drupal site administrators to use and streamline their work with a slider, block builder... an easy to use drag and drop site builder for Drupal themers to quickly put together and turn into reality the web designs they have in mind it's powered by some of the latest web technologies (CSS3, Bootstrap 3, HTML5 etc.) for Drupal developers to easily implement all the desired functionalities with   2. AKLAS This clean and modern template manages to kill two birds with one stone: both those looking to give their company websites' a professional, rather corporate look and those working in a creative industry, looking for a clean and neat design that would best showcase, without outshining, their portfolios.  Other features you can't ignore: it's 100% responsive it runs on modern technology: SASS (“spoiling” the Drupal web development team behind your website with power and easiness of use) and... the Bootstrap front-end framework (of course!)   3. JOURNAL 8  This is the only theme from our list which is designed especially for Drupal 8! Not just adapted to, but created for Drupal 8 from the ground up and, this way (as you can just guess) incorporating all of Drupal 8's “goodies”: the in-line WYSIWYG editor Views as part of Drupal's core So, if you want to power your website with a theme that reflects all the best Drupal 8 practices, Journal 8 is THAT one.   4. VANESSA Now, this is a cool “booster” for any start-up company's site, app or other web product! It's a light landing page theme, mobile-first and with a modern design. The perfect boost you need for propelling your business in the fiercely competitive online world! And there's more! Since, as a start-up, you shouldn't implicitly settle for basic functionality and rudimentary design. No sir: it's HTML 5 and CSS3-powered it grants you unlimited power of customization: you get to “play with” Drupal 8's custom blocks, such as Taxonomy, Views, Content Types and the rest of “crew” for personalizing your site's look to perfectly fit your company's unique needs it comes “loaded” with a collection of 630 icons for you to scan through and pick from it comes backed up by extensive documentation it grants you Video & Image Backgrounds   5. UNIVERSH If it's a template that should meet the specific needs (of functionality and design) of an education website, that you're searching for, then Universh is the ONE! Not only that it's been designed with your education Drupal site's particularities in mind, but also as a whole tool-set of customization options for you to choose from and to mix and match to your liking: a collection of more than 10 one-page layouts to dig through for choosing the most suitable one for your site's homepage a whole “load” of predefined headers, footers and menu styles to scan through and select from 30+ ready-to-use widgets And to all these customization-oriented tools put at your disposal, add the CSS3, HTML5 and Bootstrap 3.3.5 technologies: the 3 cherries on top!   6. PORTO, One of the Best Selling Drupal 8 Bootstrap Themes Beauty and convenience that's how this theme could be easily described! Its increasing popularity's due, to a great extent, to its easiness of use. Practically it empowers you to get your Drupal 8 site up and running in... just a few hours. With powerful functionality and spectacular design already out-of-the-box, your job will resume to taking just a few minor decisions. To simply choosing from all the options put at your disposal. Some of this theme's tempting features would be: you're free to change your background colour from light to dark or the other way round, by simply adding an HTML class the same surprisingly easy and fast method applies when it's your site's layout that you'd like to change: from wide to boxed or vice versa it's fully responsive  it comes with pre-built view support and template for Drupal Commerce  it's written in a clean code  it's masterfully configured it offers you first-class support     7. RHYTHM Out-of-the-box commerce theme... built with unlimited extensibility in mind (your site's “bugs-proofed” when you need to add new Drupal 8 modules, new features to it)... it targets both site admins/content editors with its “easy to find and edit” content tools and site builders thanks to its clean code, highly customizable background, content, color schemes and “power” coming right out-of-the-box. There you have it: a short list of the main reasons why you should consider Rhythm, too, when you're drafting your own list of best Drupal 8 Bootstrap Themes to consider for your own site. And... cut! This is where we turn off the spotlights that we've put on THE most popular Drupal 8 Bootstrap Themes. Now don't feel compelled to go for precisely one of these 7 themes The “perfect match” for your own website might not even be listed here. Nevertheless, it cannot be for no reason that particularity these ones have already won the appreciation and the good rates from most of the Drupal site owners and developers, right? ... Read more
Adrian Ababei / May 12'2017
8 Seemingly Insignificant, Yet Powerful Web Design Details That Will Keep Your Users Engaged
“The details are not details.They make the design.” (Charles Eames) And we couldn't agree more! Especially in the context of the web today, where users need to sort the often discouraging “offer” of websites competing for their attention. In a digital landscape where highly influencing trends like “ultra minimalism” and “drastic” simplicity rule, no web designer or website owner, would risk to “overload” their websites with stunning visuals and content.  So, it's not without surprise that forced to reduce the load of “resources” of eye-catching visuals and engaging copy they have switched their attention to... details! To those little elements apparently insignificant in the context of the “big pictures”, but which have now got the “leading parts”.  And yet, using the right “dosage” of attention-grabbing visuals that these details could “encapsulate” and of engaging copy (now turned into “microcopy”) is a true art!  In this respect, let us point out to you a few tips that will help you “master” the art of “joggling with” design details for delighting and for keeping your visitors engaged to your site/app:   1. Challenge Them to Interact with Your Site “Bid” on interaction tools and don't let your website visitors get “lazy” during their visit on your website! Get creative (here's a website that might inspire you: Bellroy) and choose your tool (not your “toolbox”, for you don't want to turn your website into way too demanding and distracting “amusement park” either), the on that will stir your users' curiosity and urge them to click, to interact in order to actively discover how your product's made or which is the feature that sets it apart and so on. Challenge your visitors with little “puzzles” they need to “solve” (meaning: “interact with”) for discovering your products'/services' story. Challenge them to turn from visitors to participants! Create the right context for them to interact with a key element on your website.   2. Intrigue and Delight Them with Beautiful Typography Impressing and keeping your users engaged to your website could also mean switching the spotlight to such an “common” detail as typography. “Common” and  “obvious” and yet, loaded with such power that too many web designers tend to overlook! But you're not one of those designers or Drupal website owners, right? In this respect, here are two ways in which you could trigger amazing typography's power on your website:   you could go for artsy looking, visually-arresting character shapes   you could play with proportions and surprise your users with some oversized letters   Whatever suits you! Or better said: whatever suits your own website's audience!  Beautiful lettering is probably the best example of an apparently “insignificant” detail that you can “empower” to impress and to engage all by itself!   3. Consistency: One of the Key Web Design Details Keep it consistent! It's a rule that you just can't risk breaking! Keep your design consistent throughout your website, and here we're referring to:    colors that represent your brand's identity and your site's specificity   the particular use of imagery on your website   specific typography that you've chosen to go with on your site and that you should stick to on all its pages   Familiarity is what your users expect to find on your website, therefore, remaining consistent to your website patterns is a common sense principle you should not undermine! You definitely don't want to make your visitors feel like they're challenged to think about your site's design and you definitely don't want to risk breaking the “familiarity” rule by surprising them with new design elements on each page.  It's more time-consuming for them and, therefore, way too risky for you!    4. Trigger Users' Reaction Using Microinteractions Or, better put “microinteractions serving specific purposes”! It's you who'll decide what roles they should play on your website, how precisely they should enhance your visitors' journey (just think of Facebook's globally popular “like” button):   to give feedback once your users have completed certain actions on your site   to change a setting    to signal them when they're not handling a task correctly   to enable them to tap on/off an alarm    These one-touch bits of interaction make another great example of web design details which can get invested with key functions adding value to users' overall experience on your website!   5. Surprise Them With a Tiny, Yet Sufficiently Intriguing Animation Surprise them: make your animation so tiny and almost perfectly blending into the rest of the design! Another one of those web design details that you could turn into a "superpower". This way, the little “unexpected discovery” that your users will make will not just delight them, but keep them engaged with your website, as well! Keep it simple (no need to create something too time-consuming and pointlessly complex) and strive to turn it into a perfect “surprise factor”!   6. Add Cues and Transitions To Discreetly Guide Them Through  Don't get greedy when it comes to your website's visitors own time! To the time they're  willing to invest in exploring your site. Instead, insert highly intuitive transitions on your website that will help them efficiently invest their time in exploring it! Instead of wandering about and trying to figure out by themselves how to get from point A to point B, why not insert these directional clues for them? Your website's navigation shouldn't be a puzzle to solve! Therefore, cues make one of those web design details that you can't afford underestimating!   7. Add Purposeful Microcopy What do you do when you're constrained to both visually impress and to engage users using just the limited resources offered by a minimal web design? Well, you get creative and you efficiently “exploit” those resources. Such as the tiny text inside buttons, in the footer or in your fill in forms.You go ahead and get those bits of copy written, edited and reedited till they “encapsulate” precisely the call to action messages “capable” to impact your users. You'll have just a few characters at your disposal: use them efficiently!      8. Intrigue Them and Trigger Interaction with Cinemagraphs These intriguing “living images” make a great tool for surprising your visitors and for making them engage with the content on your website. Movement will always catch the eye! And you don't even need to go for something too visually absorbing:   an unexpected touch of color on an otherwise black-and-white image   a little “collage” of photography and illustration elements   a tiny element the visitors wouldn't expect to see given the web design context of a specific page etc.   The list of effective, not to be underestimated web design details could go on, but it looks like our today's post is getting a bit too lengthy: we'll try grouping the rest in one of our next posts.  How about your own list? What other seemingly insignificant, in fact highly powerful little details (“powerful” in the hands of skillful web designers) does it include? ... Read more
Adrian Ababei / Mar 27'2017
What Are the Web Design Myths You Should... Bust in 2017? Here’s a Top 10
It's no doubt that these web design myths “controlling”, just like some “tyrants” the online world, have initially emerged as web design innovative notions, turned into widely used techniques, and, finally, into highly influencing web design trends.  It's also true that since their “adopters” have started to take them way too literally or to refuse to adapt them to the ever-evolving digital landscape, to the ever-changing users' digital behaviors, these web design practices have gradually turned into... myths. Into rigid, “dusty” web design mindsets risking to affect both the design's quality itself and the website visitors' experiences. Be better than that! Be smarter than that! Take smarter design decisions than those still “stuck” with these preconceived assumptions which are no longer relevant in 2017's web design context.  And here are the 10 web design myths “exposed”: 1. "The 3 Second Rule" This is probably the best exemplification of a notion turned into a rigid “rule”. Of a concept taken ridiculously literally! No need to develop a paranoia imagining your generic website visitor holding a timer in one hand and his mouse (if we're talking about a desktop user) in the other and counting precisely those 3 seconds! It's absurd! The 3 second rule is just a figure of speech (it could easily be a 2 second a 4 or 5 second rule) “invented” only to stress the importance of an optimized page loading time. To “warn” you that you should constantly strive to boost your website's performance.  If your web pages load in, let's say, 4 seconds, it's really not the end of the world! Instead, if they load in 3 seconds just to show a bad design and low quality content... then you might be, indeed, facing a major traffic problem! 2. "White Space Is a Wasted Chance of Capitalizing Space on My Site" This is already a “prehistoric” type of web design preconception! And we couldn't give you better examples than Google's front page and Apple's clean and airy design where big chunks of white space act as spotlights directing our eyes towards their “star” products! “Clutter” is your biggest enemy when it comes to web design! While white space and moreover, strategically using it for guiding your users' attention towards key points on your website, well, this is almost an “art”! Less sure is more, in this case! White space acts as a spotlight focused on the key content(s) on your web pages, but only if you just know just how to focus it! 3. "Mobile Device Users Are Always On the Fly and Easily Distracted"  It's a false assumption now “cemented” in the collective thinking: mobile device users are always on the go, always in a rush and easily distracted! It's noting but an exaggerated generalization! In fact, studies (Google's studies, the one that we're referring to here taken in 2012) have shown that:   68% of mobile device users are, in fact, accessing websites from their smartphones in the comfort of their homes (surprise, surprise!)   67% of desktop users are simultaneously using another device, as well, as compared to 57% of mobile device users.    We're all living in the age of distractions. We get constantly distracted whether we're just watching TV, doing online shopping on our smartphones or reading articles on our PCs!  You should still design for highly mobile users, but being fully aware that “on the run”, “striving to resist various distractions”, is not the main context that your mobile device users will be visiting your website in! 4. "Good Usability's a Must, While Good Aesthetics an Option" This thinking's maybe one of the riskiest user experience pitfalls! With all the web designers and web owners out there playing all their cards on good usability, they tend to undermine good aesthetics' key role or (even worse) to ignore it completely. You can't effectively reach out to your users and turn them into customers, if you don't emotionally connect with them, first. If you don't strive to make the very best impression (and since we're all highly visual creatures, a “good first impression” is nothing but another word for “great looks”). Usability's a very technical concept, made of certain (equally) technical, precise tactics to implement for achieving good usability on your website. While aesthetics is far more “human” and it's to humans that you need to reach out to first and only then to... “prospects”. Do keep that in mind! When combined, these two “powers”, good usability and good aesthetics, or, better said, good usability and credibility (that good aesthetics invests your Drupal website with) you can't get but a superpower to turbocharge your website with! 5. "User Feedback Is Not to Be Questioned or Debated" Of course that you should constantly ask for your users' feedback, it's vital for every business, be it online or not! What you should avoid doing is: taking that feedback, all the comments that your visitors will leave on your site, too literally! People don't always know what they want and they're quite bad at explaining their preferences, why is it that they like/dislike certain features on your website or anticipating their future choices/behaviors. A “healthy” way of doing web design is to dig in, starting from your users' comments, to the core problems! Base your design decisions on those core problems to be solved, first and foremost! Complying with your users' suggestions/complains, should come second on your list of “motivations”.   6. "Simplicity Can Only Mean Minimalism"- One of the Popular Web Design Myths And this web design myth is still influencing, to a great extent, web designers' work and website owners' design decision-making! There's this popular belief turned into a whole trend, that you can't possibly achieve a simple design than by cutting out UI elements, by drastically reducing steps and user interactions on your website. False! Even a complex web design can be made simple if you're a gifted web designer! Focusing on simplifying users' experiences and reducing the visual surface (minimalism) is not the same thing as reducing all the “friction” that a way to laborious, overly demanding design would imply from the user's point of view (simplicity). Its not the same thing as striving to reduce some of the energy that he/she would invest in visually “digesting” the content on your website. Notice the difference? 7. "Good Design is Self-Sufficient" “Design in the absence of content is not design, it’s decoration.”  Therefore, looks aren't everything and good design isn't self-sufficient! Visually-arresting graphics, cool fonts and visually-appealing colors won't compensate for the absence of high quality content. In other words: if there's no happy “marriage” between web designers and content marketers, you'll be left with a great looking website that only you and your team will get to admire. For no user will ever find it! If you don't enhance your great looking design with meaningful, engaging content that not only that completes it, but adds extra value to it, with content that addresses your visitors' needs, then your design won't go beyond its decorative function. 8. "The Homepage Is The Most Important Page on My Site" Homepage's “supremacy” has started to fade away! If it used to be the page that users always landed on first, since it served as the main directory and, therefore, since there was no other way for accessing a website, today this is no longer the case. And it's time that you, too, started to see the homepage's supremacy as a web design myth! Now users can land directly on a product page, coming from certain links posted on social media or on other sites. Your website's visitors might not even get to visit the front page at all. Moreover, and this is especially the case with websites selling products or services, you should accept the fact that your users aren't there for delighting themselves with the “wow” content on your homepage! For them your front page is nothing but a “gateway” to the product pages that they're really interested in. Or, depending on the site's specificity, to the information they can find on other pages of your Drupal site.. Think of Facebook! How often do you visit its homepage as a logged in user? Put together, all the web pages on your site are much more frequented than your homepage. Just think about that! 9. "The Three Click/Two Tap Rule" This is another baseless assumption! That all the elements on your website should be at a three-click's distance or a a two-tap's distance (on mobile devices). Irrelevant! Whether your users decide to prolong their visits on your site or to leave it  after just a few seconds, has nothing to do with this rule. User's main interest is to carry out his task (purchasing something, getting a key info etc.) You could abide by the three click rule and still witness visitors leaving your website in a rush if the content that they'll you'll deliver them, after precisely these three clicks/two taps, doesn't engage them or meet their needs. As a general rule: it's precisely when web design rules are taken too literally that they risk to turn into web design myths! 10. "Cutting Out The Navigational Choices"- One of the Influential Web Design Myths Somehow this theory initially related strictly to short term memory and to multiple product choices, has started to impact web design, particularly navigation, as well! It's one thing to cut out items from an excessive product/services collection (leading to the paradox of choice) and a completely different thing to start removing pages from your navigational bar/menus.  It's those pages that grant your user easy access to the content on your site that he's interested in. It's them that will enhance his/her exploration of your website! So, instead of blocking his/her access to different web pages on your Drupal site and of negatively impacting his overall experience with your website, you'd better figure out how to efficiently group these pages.   And it seems that we've reached the end of our list of 10 web design myths you should be aware of and... stay away from! Have you “busted” others, as well? ... Read more
Adrian Ababei / Mar 22'2017
How Do You Choose a Web Development Services Provider? 4 Things to Keep in Mind
Choosing a company that provides web development services is not as simple as shopping for other services. If it’s your business you’re getting the website for, its success and reputation inevitably hinge on how good the website looks and functions. Professional web development services are too often offered by people who are not necessarily a good choice to work with. It is, therefore, a critical hire. Here are a few things to keep in mind in order to make sure you make the right decision. Take time to notice personal qualities. Professional competence is important, but if the person is reliable, they will be truthful about their abilities as well. They will also stick to your spec, and deliver quality results on time. Look for drive, determination, and passion in the people you’re hiring. If all those qualities are there, you are on the right track.   Try them out on a mini project. Before you up and spend your entire web development budget on what may turn out to be a bad choice, try them out. Website designers for small business are usually understanding and will take on a smaller job first. This will allow you to gauge the quality of their work and general performance before making a big commitment.   Focus on the essentials. Experience and knowledge are not the same thing. Whether the Canadian web design company you’re interviewing can answer particular questions about JavaScript’s history or when PHP was created. What is important are things like: How many developers do you have working on each project? How do they communicate, especially when editing the same website? Do you have a designated web designer or is the development team responsible for web design as well? What are the current design trends for businesses in our industry? What are the steps you would suggest to take in our particular situation?   Take the time in hiring, but once you did, keep an eye out on things. Even when you’re sure you made the correct choice, don’t be in a hurry to leave it all to the company. Web development services demand constant communication. Stay on top of things, make sure you get frequent updates and be ready to make a hard choice if things go off the rocker. Keep those 4 things in mind when hiring a company for web development services, and you should be perfectly fine. Good luck!... Read more
Serge Karpyuk / Mar 10'2017
Tips To Hire Best Web Design Agency In Toronto
When you’re making a decision about which Toronto web design agency to hire, you’re making a decision about the future of your business. A well designed, quickly loading, a good looking website will bring you, clients, increase sales and lead to success. A bad website… well, let’s just say it will cost you more. If you’re a small business, looking for an affordable web design Toronto studio is understandable. It’s perfectly achievable too. There are good web design agencies in any price range. There are bad ones in all price ranges as well. So how do you make sure to hire the Toronto web design agency that’s right for you? Here are a few considerations that can help you make the right decision. Look for relevant experience. Markets and industries are different. If an agency worked with fashion shop websites in Europe, it doesn’t mean they will know how to build a website for a Toronto hi-tech company or a local car repair shop. They may, or they may not. Picking a company that worked with clients in your industry locally is the safer choice. Affordable is not the same as cheap. Remember there’s the trio of things: Fast, Cheap, Good. You can only ever choose two of them. Choose fast and good, and it won’t be cheap. Choose cheap and fast, and you won’t get quality results. But it can be affordable. As we just said above, there are good companies in all price ranges. Just don’t make it your top priority. See how communication works. Are emails answered quickly? Do they provide detailed answers? The company you’re hiring should sound interested and reliable. They should be able and happy to explain what exactly you’re getting for your money. Make sure you’re also available, to establish good communication and trust, of course. Portfolios are important, but checking them won’t hurt. Unfortunately, it’s not impossible for businesses - in any field, for that matter - to exhibit projects that are not their own. Luckily, it’s easy to check. All you need to do is contact their client and ask how the service was. This way you gain a confirmation that the portfolio project is real, and also find out about how good it was working with the firm. An honest Toronto web design agency will only encourage that. We hope this helps. Good luck in your search and a subsequent new project!... Read more
Adrian Ababei / Mar 02'2017
The Anatomy of an Effective Coming Soon Page: 7 Essential Elements
Do you master the art of building anticipation?    Or maybe you still overlook its “power” and you usually go straight to launching your website, confident enough that it will “blow their minds”. That all that “fuss” about generating buzz and enticing potential customers, while your site is still under construction, is nothing but a waste of resources.   Or maybe you're one of those website owners or developers in Toronto who sees it as a “step” to be checked off a list: you simply stick to the “standard procedure”. You go for the conventional textline (“Coming Soon” or “Under Construction”), followed by “...” , opting for the “same old same old” font, same background color as the one appearing on thousands of other websites?   Instead, if you're one of those “detail-oriented” developers/business owners who'd love to learn to “master” the art of anticipation, you're on the right blog!   If you'd like to find out how you could build your loyal audience, one that would be “present” at the “big launch” event before you've added the very last touches to your product/services, if you'd like to build that aura of “high expectations” around your website before it's even ready to be launched, this is the right “tips and tricks” blog post for you. Keep reading:   1. Keep Them “In the Loop” With a Countdown Timer    It might look like such a “worn-out” tactic to you.   And yet: mind you don't underestimate the power of a countdown timer! It's a more- than-useful tool for building anticipation: let them know, don't keep them in the dark, how much days there are left till “the big moment”.    From a user experience perspective it's definitely a “go for” strategy to subtly “guide” your visitors. To gradually deliver them “clues” they need for reaching their journey's destination: in this case, when's the launch date and how much days they still have to count till they “get there”.   2. Go For an Email Sign-Up Form    Now don't think that people will keep counting days till launch time and that precisely on that day they'll rush in to visit your website!   Instead of “slacking off” and to genuinely expect users to “flood onto” your site the day you'll release it “into the wild”, send them remainder emails!   For this, you'll need their email addresses and what more convenient way of collecting them than by placing an email sign-up form on your “under construction” website page?   Your “crop” of contact email addresses will turn out to be a “gold mine” at your disposal, one that will jump start the whole success of your website/business.    A simple, email-reminder, before launch day, will set the difference between a “newly” resealed website, with barely any visitors, and one witnessing a significant wave of traffic, from the very first day.   3. Consider a “Limited Pre-Sell” Tactic   This strategy works best once you've set up a particular context beforehand:   first of all, it works best if you're actually selling something on your website (online courses, various products) secondly, you should build an “community” loyal to your brand during the “launch tease” period and to convey trust.   In order to strengthen this particular audience's trust in your product, preselling your it (or offering early adoption discounts, especially if we're talking about online courses), even if you haven't yet finished it, it's an effective two-purpose strategy:   you increase anticipation for your product's final version, build trust and entice them to come back to your website, once it's launched   you get to collect valuable reviews, which could instantly be turned into “last minute warnings” that you should improve certain features of your products/services before launch day   Not to mention that you could use the gains resulting from pre-sell for actually investing them in the “last touches” that you'll apply to your products!    4. Generate Buzz on Social Media, Too!   Your company's social media accounts make the perfect “environment” for generating buzz on and for spreading it to lots of potential website visitors/customers.   Therefore, don't rely strictly on that “database of priceless email addresses” that you'll collect, but on all the followers that you'll manage to attract on your social media acounts, as well.    This way, you'll have visitors “flooding onto” your website, on launch day, coming from two sources instead of just one.   “How do I increase social engagement on my social media accounts”, you say? By getting creative!   Gather your team of Toronto developers and come up with a “hard to resist to” giveaway/major discounts scenario. Make your incentive truly effective!    Next, come up with a condition: use social promotion as a means for them to gain access to the items that you'll giving away or selling at an incredibly low price! Make them Like your page, to post something related to your website's upcoming launch, on their accounts and link to your company's social media page, you name it.   “Give before you ask!” Remember?   5. Keep Your Text Effectively Concise   You want to give away “clues” about your products/services, you want to “seduce” potential customers with words, to reveal to them why they should sign up for the email remainder, but you definitely don't want to give away too much through a too long, “hard to digest” block of text!   It's a “launch tease”, you know! So, you should give away enough information for them to get a short insight, not to “reveal” everything and “bore” them with an entire “history” of your product! Keep it conveniently short, keep them “in suspense”!   6. Engage Them With a Video     Is there any need to stress the “power” of video content once more? It's the type of     content that captivates instead of merely “deliver infos” about a soon to be launched product/service/course.   Therefore, consider “turbocharging” your coming soon page with “the power” of video!    It's up to you how you decide to showcase your products in this video. A possible option is that of a “collage” of short interviews with members of your team. It will build trust and it will help your visitors to “put a face” on your brand even before your company website “steps into the spotlight”! It will “humanize” it and it will ease interaction!   7. Come Up With an Irresistible Incentive for Launch Day   The “Give before you ask” tactic shouldn't be limited to “presells”.    Exploit this strategy till the very end: which, for a coming soon page is the website's launch itself. Give away something on launch day, too!   A possible scenario would be this one: you already have a “collection” of emails coming from your sign-up form, so you use them to send out an alluringly designed email letting your potential customers know what they'll get if the revisit your recently launched site.   Not only that you'll let them know that “the waiting is over”, but you'll also give them a reason why they should visit it precisely on launch day: since your giveaway is limited to launch day!   This is, in our opinion, the “anatomy” of an effective coming soon page. What other elements do you think it should include? Feel free to share if you have any other suggestions or to disagree with our suggestions, in the comments below!   ... Read more
Adrian Ababei / Feb 02'2017
How Do You Make Your Website More... Usable? An 8-Step Guide to Website Usability
It's a trap: don't fall for it! Don't trade website usability for innovative UI design! Don't strive to impress and thus undermine your site's main goal: making it super easy for your visitors to navigate through!   Instead of dazzling them away you might just... drive them away! Instead of impressing your visitors with your Drupal site's stunning design and beautiful graphics you'll be getting too demanding.   You'll demand too much effort and time, since users will need to invest way too many resources for “untangling” your innovative and therefore unfamiliar interface, instead of focusing on its high quality content.   So, what should it be? Do you want a “avant-garde”, visually-spectacular website that only you and your team would “feast” your eyes on whenever you want, for boosting your self-confidences?   Or rather an inviting website that welcomes in lots of users, making them come back for more?   If you've chosen the second answer, then here are some pieces of advice, “collected” from our team of web developers in Toronto, on how you can boost your website's usability! They're just common sense tactics that everyone knows but many ignore, you know:   1. "Bid on" Standard, Familiar Navigation    Remember: you're reaching out to users with an attention span shorter than that of a goldfish, according to the latest studies.   Therefore, you'd better use those 5 (or less) seconds wisely!    An optimized navigation menu, in terms of usability, should be:   familiar: do not let yourself seduced by the urge to “reinvent the wheel”. Your users are already used to find the main navigation menu on top of the page, displaying links to key pages on your website, featuring concise titles. “Familiar” means “less time invested in recovering from the “surprise” of a new type of layout and less effort (leading to frustration and confusion) for figuring out how the new layout works. So, less time and effort from your users and more pleased users for you: it's a win-win situation after all! effective: don't fall for the trap of pulling off a multi-level navigation bar and a side bar “combo”! You risk to tire your visitor! Our advice to you is to trimline your navigation bar (stick to maximum 7 fields) instead of turning its layout into a true “maze” for your users to solve.  accessible: making your menu quick to find you'll be enhancing accessibility throughout your entire website. Your visitors will then know where they are and where they can go next. No need to get them “stuck in wondering”: light their path with simple, straightforward navigation! Tip: a great tool for improving your website's organizational schema is Crazy Egg. It will provide you with a heat map “enlightening” you on what sections on your page users engage with more frequently. Empowered with such a map, you'll get to effectively display and organize elements on each one of your site's pages!   2. Lead Them Through With Visual Hierarchy   Pulling off a truly effective informational hierarchy is an “art”, but one that you can master following these key principles:   wisely “exploit” that section on your homepage that users' eyes fall on first once they land on it (the center of the page, underneath your navigation menu, or the top left corner): place your most important piece of content there, one that should provide a lower level of detail!    use larger font size for drawing attention to high priority pieces of content   go for visually-arresting images for signaling a higher level of importance given to a particular piece of content   It's no rocket science, it's just helping your users to easily digest your content. By pointing out to them what content is more important and which blocks of content fall on a lower level of the visual hierarchy, you'll be subtly guiding them along your homepage's content.   You'll be taking them on an enjoyable tour instead of confusing them and “bombarding” them with equally “flashy”, equally important information that they can't possibly “digest” all at once.    Tip: strive to keep each content section concise and you'll be “encouraging” your visitors to keep navigating, in a quest for some more “small dosages” of details.   3. Make Your Call to Action Stand Out   We couldn't be talking about a “usable” website lacking a straightforward “call to action”, right? It's what makes your site “usable”.   Therefore, make sure your call/s to action is well visible on your front page and on every other page: “Buy Now”, “Start Your Free Trial”, “Learn More” etc.   They will turn users' visit from just an “aimless wander about” into a journey with a clear destination!   4. Loading Time: Optimize, Optimize, then Optimize Some More   No “frustratingly” slow loading website could pass the 5 second test, right? It will just put users' patience to a test!   So, what can you do for improving your web pages' load time? Here are some optimization tips for you:   optimize your CSS files    optimize your images and scale down their sizes   remove duplicate scripts   optimize browser catching   Tip: heavy scripts, such as JavaScript, are one of the main “culprits” for slow loading pages. Instead, consider opting for minimal scrips if you want to deliver your users a far more agreeable, faster experience on your website! No need to take our advice, take Google's instead: its whole AMP initiative revolves around boosting web pages' load time on smaller screens, too!   5. The Power of Imagery: Handle It With Great Care   Stunning images are a great power which, once triggered, can help you get your users “hooked” to your site, to break up huge blocks of content, to enhance readability and even to add an extra layer of meaning to it, too. A text upgraded with images will always have a much more powerful effect on the reader.   Where do you add that beautiful and highly suggestive images will always be far more easily to digest than big chunks of text alone.   Still, make sure you handle this power with care!    For it you're overcrowding your web pages with outstanding images and even, worse, if you overload it with poorly optimized ones, the result will be: confusing, tiring the user's eye and making him lose his patience, too!   In a nutshell: use imagery to impress, capture attention and “tell a visual story”, but mind you don't overdo it!    6. When in Doubt: Use White Space   It will always “come to your website's rescue”, keeping it from looking discouragingly crowded. Any web designer in Toronto “worth his salt” would confirm you this!   Use white space for keeping your content airy and easy to navigate through and to be digested.   It's pretty much like you'd be inviting your visitors in a light and airy living room instead of a dark, boxes-stuffed basement.   Don't underestimate the impact of white space on your website's usability!   7. Break It Up With Headings and Subheadings   Instead of “serving” users “hard to digest”, big chunks of text, how about breaking it up with headings and subheadings?   Now only that it will increase readability tremendously, making your written content easier to scan, but it will also boost your SEO: H1 still remains a major ranking factor!    In order words: use heading and subheadings for improving user experience and you'll implicitly improve your “relationship” with the search engines, as well!   8. “Consistency Is Key” Is More Than Just Another Motto   Consistency goes hand in hand with “familiarity”!   Keeping the same layout, same fonts and color on every page, will reassure your visitors that they're “on the right path, that they haven't deviated from it.   Keep a consistent theme throughout your website and you'll make your website easy to use: just think about it, now only that you'll instill a sense of familiarity, but you'll be saving your users' time and effort otherwise “wasted” for “deciphering” the new theme, for understanding the new layout's organizational schema etc.   Now to boil down usability to the essentials, we've seen that it relies on 5 main principles:   Consistency   Simplicity   Familiarity   Relevancy   Accessibility of a site    How about your Drupal website? Would it pass the 5 second test? What other usability-enhancing tactics have you used so far? What's your opinion: what role does usability play in the “making of a website?”                           ... Read more
Adrian Ababei / Jan 30'2017
 What's Your Story? Tell It on Your About Page!
Your company's story already has loads of potential to captivate and keep your users engaged: it's unique, it's your brand's identity. There aren't two of a kind!   Now that we've got this straight, let us pop up THE question: how are you going to benefit from your story's uniqueness for drawing people in? How are you going to tell it so that you captivate them first, build trust around your brand secondly and then: boost your conversion rates, too?   How about using your About Us page to “tell this unique story of yours”, to tell it your own way and not in a stiff, impersonal manner that would only make it blend with the masses?   How about breaking the mold and turning this section on your Drupal website into a “storyteller” instead of a “boring” facts and stats-showcasing “board”?   How do you tell your story on your About page in a way that engages, builds trust and sparks emotions (not to mention “leads”)?    Here's how:   1. Tell Them Your Story    Remember that we've already talked, in one of our older posts, about the importance of incorporating your brand's story into your website's design?   Well, you should stick to this good  practice if you truly want to be part of the exception, to make your site “stand out from the masses of websites”.   Therefore, engage in brand storytelling on your About page and make your readers... engage with your brand. It's they very first step that our web design team in Toronto takes when starting to create About pages: listening to our clients' stories!   What makes your brand different? Which was the “vision” you had when you “drafted” the first prototypes of your products/services? How did you imagine they would impact people's lives, make a difference and “change the world”?   Maybe you have a funny story about the “birth” of your company instead, or a daring projection of its future “mission” in the real/digital world. Tell it to them!   Run an analysis of your brand's identity, track that “something” that easily sets it apart from the crowd, then go ahead and “exploit” it: put together both descriptive and emotive copy, along with visually-absorbing graphics and “tell” them your story instead of just “delivering” it to them.    A good story will instantly “inject” meaning into your products/services, it will put them in a context and where do you add that good stories are “sticky”, too: they go viral!   2. Humanize Your Brand   It's human beings that you're reaching out to! Not “bots”, not just generic “users”, not just a faceless “audience”.   So, a little empathy, from the human beings in your company to the human beings “paying you a visit” on your website, will just come to strengthen your communication.   In other words: put a human face on your brand, showcase its personality on your About page.    Tip: how about adding some smiling faces there? Natural, genuine smiles (not the corporate-like, “fake” ones), are “scientifically proven” to help people connect and to boost conversions.   Step out from the mass of “stiff” jargon-using companies! It will just make your brand speak “the monotonous robots' language” to your users!   Instead, tell them about your brand, tell them your story with simple words, using short sentences infused with your brand's authentic voice. Whether this means adding the fun factor here and there, some “punchy sentences” or even “on the spot” made up words (easy to “decipher”).   Go for “friendly and empathetic” language and stay away from “rigid” and patronizing language.   3. Trigger The Power of Video Content   … and you'll keep your visitors “hooked” to your About page way longer!   Not to mention that you'll portrait your brand as an innovative one, ahead of the curve, interested in delivering interactive, engaging user experiences.    So, why shouldn't you “unleash” the power of video on this special section on your Drupal website? Tell your story in a video!    Or, even better: put together the power of video with the power of audio and trigger the “force” of multimedia on your About Page! It will be a multi-leveled experience for your website's visitors. Your story's certain to remain carved in their minds for a longer period of time than conventional “harder to digest” chunks of text!   4. Make It Visually Attractive   No matter how extraordinary your brand's story might be, it will impress and fascinate no one if you present it like a list of paragraphs conventionally entitled: Our Team, Or Mission, Our Values, Our Achievements etc.   Your story needs to stand out, visually, on your About page, if you really want to draw visitors in, if you expect it to captivate them and to make it “stick” to their memory!   Your visitors are “highly visual human beings”, so, once you've accepted this, see how you can adapt your whole content strategy around this principle!   No matter what web design team in Toronto you might collaborate with, suggest them to focus on your About page's visual attractiveness (a page which is way too often overlooked)!   Challenge your creativity, get bold, have fun and come up with a clean and fun design, create graphics to liven up your text and to infuse it with visual personality! Think of all the means of making your Abut page look “visually atypical”!   Once you've caught their eye, you'll instantly increase your chance to “lure them in” and to get them into the right mood for “listening” to your story!   5. Use Testimonials as Trust Builders   Your About page is all about building trust, about creating that aura of “authenticity” and “trustworthiness” around your brand. Not just about luring users in and “wowing” them with your unique story.   Trust leads to better conversion!   So, could you think of more efficient trust signals than testimonials? No matter how well you tell your story, visitors will always trust other humans rather than “the voice of your brand”, no matter how authentic and friendly it might sound to them.   Therefore, display testimonials on your About page! Those certifying your products/services could be either regular people or authorities in your niche!   Consider letting others tell your company's story! They'll always be far more convincing than you!   Tip: consider, also, associating your testimonials with “real faces”! Add the pictures of these “witnesses” willing to tell “chapters” of your story! Your testimonials will instantly look far more authentic: visitors will then be able to put a face on each one of the names testifying for your brand!   6. Rely on Words Alone To Make Your Story “Sticky”   You don't even need to ruin your budget for crafting an outstanding About page that draws visitors in and engages.    You could rely on copy alone, for instance! But on creative copy that's compelling, has humor in it and it's “injected” with personality (not corporate-talk).   It takes practice and it takes writing skills for turning your copy into an efficient “one man show” on your About page. For making it it rival other About pages featuring parallax scrolling, visually-absorbing graphics, video content and other types of “juicy” content.    But it is “doable”! Give it a try: carefully chose the words that will tell your story and let them cast their spell and compel!   7. Seize the Chance to Throw in A Web Form   Your About page is, after all, one of the pages with the highest-traffic on your Drupal website. So, why not taking advantage of such a “massive” audience by putting a lead-capture form into the spotlight?   You're not “just” building trust on your About Us Page, you're actually trying to build trust for better conversion, right?    Well, once you've reached your first goal, with the help of your good story told in a highly engaged manner, how about turning it into an opportunity for boosting conversion on your site?   Put a web form for your visitors to complete right  after they've “listened” to you story, when they're still under its “spell”?   The better your story will be and the better you say it, the more contact info and signups will your strategically-placed web form bring you!   Ponder on this “shrewd” strategy for a while!     Your turn now! What other tactics do you use for designing “About Us” pages that stand out? Let's discuss them in the comments section below!   ... Read more
Adrian Ababei / Jan 26'2017