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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.

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
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How much time and effort do the web forms on your Drupal site demand from your users?   No matter what your estimations might be: there's always room for optimization, don't you think?   There is an optimal length that you should consider when building your web forms, a certain format that converts better, as well. Any web design and development team will confirm you this.   Moreover, there's a better way of crafting the messages that you deliver to your users and a certain level of anticipation involved, too. Meaning, of course, that you need to be able to predict the common errors that your users will be making during the “ fields filling in process”.   Oh, and you'd better not leave out this key aspect, either: the whole “information typing in” process should run equally fluidly on all devices. No “discrimination” whatsoever!   Put your user first!   On how you can ease your his/her navigation and ask for as little of his time and effort as possible during this part of his journey (on your Drupal site).   Then you'll implicitly be “working your magic” on your conversion rates, as well!   And here is our list of best practices for creating web forms that convert:   Let The Data Determine Your Web Form's Structure    Let's assume that you're optimizing an existing checkout: your analytics is relevant enough for determining your next structure-related moves.   Which are the elements you should prioritize?   Which are the most popular payment options on your site? The answer is in your analytics: do some research and then push forward those key payment methods in your web forms.    Do you visitors order seasonally or infrequently on your Drupal website? It's all there, in the data! The analytics will let you know whether you should go for a guest checkout or not!   Make a habit of turning analytics into the most valuable resource for optimizing your web forms!   Use The “One Question Per Page” Method   OK, not “literally” one question/field for each page, but one “topic” for each page (or at least for each “section”).   For instance, you could have once separate page for shipping options, one for address details, another one for payment details.   This segmentation will streamline the user's navigation (especially on mobile), will ease understanding and improve error recovery, too.   No need to just bundle up all the fields one on top of the other and make your web form look just like a “questions-packed survey”. It will only confuse the user and imagine how discouraging it would look be on a mobile device's screen!   In a nutshell: the multi-page web form design converts better!   Focus On The Most Common Situations First   No need to stick in the mud, to complicate your whole web form optimization process from an early stage.   Instead, focus on the common scenarios first:   in most cases the user filling in the web form is the same one that the item/s will get delivered to in most cases he/she is using his/her card and, surprise, surprise: same shipping and billing address and so on Handle the exceptions, the less common scenarios, later!   Indicate Progression    This is a significant UX booster!   An progress indicator will help you discreetly guide your user through the whole process (whether he's singing up or completing a purchase). Our team of Toronto developers couldn't imagine building in a web form lacking this feature anymore!   Here are ways of incorporating progress indicators into your web forms:   you integrate a progress bar, in case of a multi-page web form; it will let users know how many more pages they'll need to fill in (keep in mind to add brief descriptive headings indicating the topic of each page/section)   you integrate a scroll-length, in case of a single-page web form    Implement Field Type Indicators   Here's another great way for reducing the time and effort required from your users: suggesting browsers the type of information that the user is required to type in.    Here's a great example: use field type indicators for “programming” browsers to display a numeric keyboard when the user has to fill in his card numbers.   Provide Field Hints To Help Users   Any user will appreciate a little guidance, instead of being left to handle the whole process, to figure out the “less intuitive” steps, all alone.   So, why not streamlining his operations with various hints, such as hints suggesting him the information he needs to type in various fields of your web form?   Your “hints” could be annotations, graphics or text placeholders.    Anticipate Uncommon Scenarios, too   Since not all the “user filling in the web form” scenarios will be common and easily predictable, you should prepare yourself for the unexpected, too!   “Uncommon” cases could be those where your users need to go back in the form and change certain information.    Monitor your analytics and consider whether you should apply some changes to your web form, yourself, in case certain “uncommon” scenarios turn into “way too frequent scenarios to be ignored”.   Implement Auto-Formatting    At some point, during the web form filling in process, your users might get “unsure” of the correctness of the information the will have typed in.    So, why not streamlining their whole auto-formatting operation: use dash or space after one set of digits from their the card numbers, so that they can effortlessly correct the wrong ones?   And this is just one example!   Check for Errors And Get Them Fixed in Due Time   Keep a close eye on your web form's performance!    You never know what errors you might track down and, you know what they say: the sooner the better. Get them fixed and then look out for new ones!   Use them as “pretexts” for some more optimization!     What's your own “recipe” for web forms that convert? Are there any other “best practices” that you could add to the list? ... Read more
Adrian Ababei / Jan 21'2017
Cards vs Lists: Which UI Style Best Suits Your Type of Website?
It's not a matter of “better or worse”, but one of “appropriate or inappropriate given context”. This is what our experience as Toronto developers has taught us.   And that given context is given by your website's specificity itself!    So, you should start weighting up the two UI styles, the two ways of displaying content on your website, from this perspective: each one provides the best UX for a particular type of website that you're owing/developing.   It's your Drupal website's particularities that shape your own purposes and your users' main goal, too, once they land on your website, and which determine the best type of web design to use, as well.    In this respect: what kind of website do you have in mind?   Now, how about pushing these 2 “leading actors” into the spotlight?   How about shading some light on each one's advantages and limitations and pointing out the best contexts when they can help you provide the best UX to your visitors?   What's a List (or Grid) Design?   A more or less basic definition of a list would go something like this: a list is a page featuring several entries or candidate items meant to match the user's search criteria.   Lists are ideal for newspaper websites!   They ease users' “job” of quickly scanning over the headlines in order to gain an overview of the latest news before they decide which article's worthy for being further explored.   Till they decide which is the piece of news worthy, interesting enough for them to “click on for more information”, they need to quickly “overfly” all the headlines.    And a list design, being more compact, is by far the best means for organizing content, for steamlining this scanning process after all.   Did anyone said that: facilitation is a synonym for “better user experience”?   What's a Card in Web Design?   An “entry point”, a “container of related information” or a “brief summary of information”. These are but three possible vague definitions of a card in web design.   Now, let's detail a bit, shall we?   Imagine a card as some sort of an “informational teaser”: it's a container that gives users just an entry point to some more detailed information.   “More detailed information” that the user can access, for further exploration, once they've clicked the card-shaped entry point.   It's no news for anyone that Pinterest's been THE card-based UI's trend setter.   Its popularity, among users, convinced Google, Jelly, Tinder, Weotta, and other giant “players” on the online arena to adopt this UI design.   Although a product of flat design, a card is rather a Flat Design 2.0, since it features light 3D effects (such as drop shadow) pointing out to users that they should click for “unlocking” the rest of the information prepared for them.   What else could we briefly (for now) say about cards?   They work best on archive pages, where you, as a web developer in Toronto/Drupal website owner want to just “tease” your users with brief summaries of the additional content available for them for further exploration.   When Should You Go For a Card-Based UI?   1. For Grouping Various Types of Content   If lists make the best choice when it comes to organizing and displaying similar content, cards, on the other hand, work wonders for helping users easily navigate through several types of content.   Just rely on borders for marking the differences among various elements on your website, among the various pieces of content. Thus, you'll provide a visual boundary for your users to rely on for easily navigating through your “puzzle” made of several distinct items.   2. For Enhancing Information Browsing   Think of Pinterest (again)!   You don't visit Pinterest to search for a particular piece of information.    Instead, you have a content category in mind and some spare time to invest in exploring whatever collections of stunning images you'll might get surprised with.   So, basically you go on Pinterest for scanning through pins, through all those stunning images.    And there you have it!   You've just named precisely the type of user goal that the card-based web design best responds to: “scrolling through”/”scanning through”/”browsing through” or however you wish to call it.   It's not for searching for specific information that you should use this type of UI, but for encouraging and enhancing the act of browsing through a whole collection of bits of information.    You impose your users no content hierarchy whatsoever (like you do when using a list-style design).   Instead, you grab their attention with visually-arresting images encapsulated in those cards and, moreover, you layer bits of information on their surfaces, making teasing textline + eye-catching images work together hand-in-hand.   And since it's browsing that you're encouraging and not the act of quickly accessing a particular type of information, the card-based UI turns all the “scanning through” into a delightful, effortless and fun scroll down card-shaped results.    Whenever your users spot something that surprised/intrigued/stirred their curiosity, they get to click the specific card(s) and indulge in further exploring the additional content.    And there you have it: instant gratification!   When Should You Go For a List-Style Design?   1. For Ensuring Quick Access To The Needed Information   As already mentioned: the list-style web design is perfect for newspaper and newspaper-like websites.    How come?    Just think about it: on this type of site users usually land for eye scanning the given content and for quickly spotting precisely the information/article that they're interested in.   It's not for passing time browsing through a visually-appealing collection of card-based results that they'll access your website.   No sir! In fact they'd hate spending too much of their priceless time looking at amazing pictures, for they're on the look for specific information and they want to gain access to it as quickly and as effortlessly as possible.   So, quickly scanning through a vertical list (far more easily to eye scan than a dashboard of cards featuring no helpful hierarchy) increases their chances to find what they're looking for quick and easy, with no unnecessary distractions whatsoever.    2. For Smaller Screens    It's obvious why lists make a better choice for smaller screens than cards: they take up less space on the screen.   Therefore, users aren't constrained to keep scrolling down, when using their mobile devices, if they want to access more content and they're not forced to rely on their short-memory either.    And this can only lead to better UX!   It's no rocket science why: list-style design enables you to display more choices, in short rows down the length of your web page.   Thus, you take out the (otherwise imminent) possibility of the discouraging “never-ending” scrolling of the equation!   In Conclusion   Cards are informational “teasers” linked to the content to be explored deeper into the website navigation.    They make the ideal choice when it's information browsing (instead of searching) that you'd like your users to do on your website and when you're displaying several types of content that they need to easily navigate through.   Lists are pages displaying search results matching the search items that your users will have typed in.   Being far more compressed and allowing you to establish a visual-guiding hierarchy, too, they enable users to quickly access particular information as they scan through similar types of enlisted content.      With these contexts, specific to each one of the 2 dominating UI styles, in mind, you should now be able to choose one over the other and thus to organize your content for ensuring the best user experience on your website. ... 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Adrian Ababei / Jan 16'2017
What Are the 3 Most Common Web Design Mistakes and How to Avoid Them?
User experience and usability!   Such “trendy” principles in today's web-design communities. Such powerful trends influencing major decisions-making processes in the digital world.   And yet, recent studies have proven that, although every web designer appears to be striving to craft the most engaging user experiences, to create web design “in the name of usability”, too many of them make the same mistakes as 20 years ago (when the approach to web design wasn't as sophisticated as nowadays or the expert advice as accessible as in the present days).   Well, it's time for you to “shake off" these “bad habits”, to take advantage of this time of year (a time of resolutions making) for making some strong commitments in this respect.   And here they are, the 5 long-lasting web design errors that we'd like to “confront” you with:   1. Failing at Responding to Users' Need for Clarity   Whether you're deliberately compromising clarity for the sake of “innovation”, for showing off your creativity, or you're simply overlooking its key role, it's time you helped your design (re)gain its clarity!   It's time you (re)considered your relation with your website's visitors:    you need to “serve” them first, by making it crystal-clear where they need to click and where exactly all the clicking will take them to and only then to “gain them over” with your talent and “appetite” for innovation.   It's not the other way round. It never is!   Now here are some “long-living” web design mistakes affecting clarity:   A. Unexpected content placement/Ambiguous category names   We preferred pairing these two examples of “popular” web design mistakes since they both lead to the same unwanted result: users getting the feeling that the particular content they're searching for is always somewhere else on the website.   It's perfectly legitimate and even advisable, as a web designer in Toronto or as a website owner, to want to break up the conventional patterns of design.   And yet, be aware that “you're playing with fire”.   Interfering with you users' browsing habits, placing certain pieces of content where they would never have expected to find them, might have the opposite effect: discouraging your visitors due to the time they will have wasted looking the information they needed.   Also, if you fail to clearly name your categories and your visitors land on web pages of your site having nothing to do with the content they were expecting to find (signaled by the “inappropriate” way in which you named your categories), you risk to make them bounce off your site for good.   B. Hidden fees   Reducing prices' visibility or hiding away certain fees is the quickest way to “crafting” a negative user experience!   So, shake off this bad habit and make a pledge for designing exclusively big and bold pricing information this year!   C. Misleading, almost identical links or navigational categories   It says it all: you risk (again) to piss off your visitors, who'll land on the “wrong” pages on your website for didn't stick to the principle of clarity when naming your links/navigational categories.   And this is how you lose some potential loyal visitors which could have converted into customers!   2. Failing at Efficiently Applying Basic UX Principles   How will your website's visitors find the needed information on your website? This is the question!   The question that should keep you alert throughout the whole designing process, lest you should wrongly apply or forget all about the fundamental UX “rules”.   You should envision your “mission like this: blazing your user's path to the due destination. Which is the information that he/she's searching for on your site!   And by “stuffing” your text paragraphs with internal links, placing your buttons in unexpected places or hiding away your navigation bar sure is not the way to do it!   Now here are some common UX errors you should commit yourself to avoiding this year:   A. Repetitive similar links   Resist the “temptation” of turning your visitors' quest for specific information hosted on your website into a “mission impossible”.   Forcing them to click on a heavy loads of almost identical links, over and over again, in order to access the information they're actually looking for, is nothing but a “sloppy” web design practice.   And you will only “succeed” in discouraging your visitors.    B. “Islets” of information   Here's a basic UX principle that way too may web designed keep “overlooking” even now, when “usability” is one every web designer in Toronto's lips: connecting together webpages hosting similar type of information.   You should avoid stranding your visitors on “final destination” type of web pages on your site. They do find the information they were looking for (hopefully), but are not “lured” with alternative destinations, as well: other pages on your website presenting a similar type of information that they might find useful.   In conclusion: make sure you don't “sabotage” yourself. Permanently “tempt” visitors with alternative pages they could visit, pages linked to the ones that they'll access first both through phsycal clickable links and through the similarity of the information that these pages provide!   C. Irrelevant search results   Remember: UX is all about lightening your users' path to the information they need.   Now imagine the following scenario: your visitor types his/her search items into your navigation bar, get the suggested link of a specific page on your website only to land there and to discover that it has nothing to do with the type of content he was expecting to find, based on his specific search terms.   How did you let this happen?    You've incorrectly or insufficiently tagged your facets and filters!   Now that you know how to avoid this mistake, you'll have no excuse for letting the above scenario turn into reality on the websites you'll design in 2017!   D. Casting away users on micro-sites   This is a web design mistake related to the one causing “islets” of information (that we've already detailed here).   Probably the most popular website relying on sub-sites is Yahoo. And this is a good example of web design: users are directed to visit certain subsites while they're provided with the way to go back on the main site, as well.   This is a good practice that you, too, should stick to when you handle sub-sites web design: whenever you suggest your users to visit a certain sub-site, remember to always make the home button as visible as possible. Otherwise you'll just cast them away, you'll drive them off the main website and thus “sabotage” yourself.   Why would you want that?    3. Failing at Creating An Effective Information Architecture   What's the point in creating valuable content when you, afterwards, “sabotage” yourself by making it discouragingly difficult for them to scan through it?   A well planned information architecture is what makes the difference between hasty web design and perfectly structured, intuitive navigation flow-ensuring web design. It's the very foundation stone of good design!   An effective information structure implies organizing, labeling and structuring the whole content available on your website as clearly as possible.   By the time you start to actually design your website, you'll have everything planned: how your future visitors will get from one section of your website to another, your page order, the number of pages your website will have, everything, to the slightest details, will have already been thought through.   What's the purpose of all these content structuring efforts?   Your users will effortlessly and quickly understand what your site is about, will be able to scam through its content and to easily “detect” the specific information that they're looking for.   Now here are 2 major information architecture mistakes you should avoid:   A. Content clutter   We'll never stop “bugging” you with this advice (presented to you in various forms) on this blog: declutter your website and you'll half won your “battle”!   Think “5 second attention span” and then think “fierce competition in the digital marketing arena” (competition which will get even fiercer this year).   No visitors will have the time or the will to try and “digest” huge blocks of text and to waste too much energy trying to navigate their way though piles of images, overcrowded products galleries or cluttered apps (weather app, countdown app, audio player etc.).   So, never bid on your user's goodwill!   Instead, do your best or easing his/her job for “digesting” the content on your website:   shorten your paragraphs give white (or so called: "empty space") space its due importance always bid of bullets   B. Hidden relevant links   And here we get to the risk of “auto-sabotaging” again!    Avoid placing relevant links in totally inappropriate, hard to find places on your website, such as amidst ads.   It will be like “looking for a needle in a haystack” for your visitors to find these particular links and thus you'll run the risk of blocking their access to key pages on your website.     This is how our list of web design “don'ts” for 2017 looks like!   Think them through, see which one(s) of them has been part of your work routine for too long now and make a pledge to “brake up with it/them” this year! ... Read more
Adrian Ababei / Jan 10'2017
Find Out What Is Trending in Web Design This Time of Year
Curious what 2017 has in store for you in terms of new powerful web design trends? It is crucial for you, as an entrepreneur or business owner operating in the online world to “tell the future”, isn't it?    Well, allow us to be your “fortune tellers”!   To reveal to you 3 web design trends that will dominate the web design industry this month and which we anticipate that we'll “dictate” how designers and business owners will approach web design this year.   Ready?   Here are the most influencing trends in web design in January 2017:   1. Crafting Visually-Appealing Shopping Experiences    Stunning imagery + (unique) story telling products = new shopping experiences based on planting the “seed of desire” in your viewers!   That's how we could call these new shopping experiences that (usually) high-end online stores, with fewer items on their inventories, have started to craft.   We already “suspect” it to become one of the most influencing of all the 3 web design trends that we've selected for you for this post! Definitely the trend that will influence how we do web design in Toronto!   So, you'd better give it a great deal of consideration if you own a Drupal e-commerce website or if you're planning to boost your business with one such website this year.   It might just be the surest way of setting yourself apart from all the common shops offering clunky shopping experiences, requiring to much clicking from their visitors, annoying them with too many options to select from and with over-sized navigation menus.    Set yourself apart and join the high end shops' exclusive league instead!   The league of those brands that focus on the pure beauty of their products and that masterfully showcase it to their users triggering a sense of desire in them. All while while making sure that their online shopping experience is seamless (take Amazon's example for instance).   It's no news to anyone: Instagram has influenced and will continue to influence the way digital business owners approach to web design in 2017.    So, bid on visually-arresting images, on card-style interfaces and remember to invest your products with a unique story (your brand's unique story) to “tell” your website's visitors!   First you visually dazzle them away with your high end design and it's only afterwards, once they've started to scroll down, that you reveal to them all the other “details” such as prices.   This is how major brands have been “charming” their customers with great success, so how about adapting their techniques to your own website?   Instill that sense of “gotta have this high-end, beautifully designed and unique story-telling product” in your website's visitors!   2. Using Ample Negative Space for Directing Viewer's Eye   When used right, the web design technique of "playing with" an ample “empty” space is such a powerful one!   Whether we're talking about the “empty” space that you'll decide to surround your images or text with, or about the background color or simply the strategically placed white space on your website, this “airy” space on your website lacking any visual elements can help you direct your visitors' attention to key elements on your web pages.   You'll practically guide the viewer's eye to the more “crowded” part of your design. You'll actually “tell” your users where to look and where to click!    Note: when considering the use of ample negative space, think beyond (commonly) symmetrical design! Get creative and strive to strike a visually impacting balance between text or images and negative space in a rather asymmetrical format.   3. Breathing Life In Material Designs Using Pastel Colors    Get ready to witness a shift in the usage of colors in web design this year!   If bold, neon colors have been “the go-for trend” in 2016, we've been collecting some “solid proofs” that pastel hues will steal the spotlight this year! As a Toronto web designer or entrepreneur operating in the digital “realm”, you should definitely keep an eye on how this trend will continue to evolve over the year!   Softer colors will climb the colors' hierarchy, going from (just) background colors to hero headers'/main imagery's dominating colors.   Expect to witness more and more brands (and you should seriously consider jumping on this trend yourself, too):   pairing pastel colors with images featuring the same soft hues pairing photography with imagery featuring the same pastel palettes   Note: pastel colors will continue to perfectly complement material and flat designs as they've had over the last years, too.   So from this point of view there's nothing new under the sun in 2017's web designs! And yet, softer colors won't be playing just a “secondary” role, somewhere in the background.   Designers will start matching and pairing them in various ways for putting together the central images themselves.   Therefore, you'd better start considering playing some more with pastel color palettes when designing or redesigning your Drupal website/s this year.      What do you think? Will these 3 web design trends, that have influenced designers more than other trends this month, turn into THE most powerful ones this year?   Which one(s) of them (if any) is it more likely to “influence” you, too, when you develop the web projects that you've planned for 2017? ... Read more
Adrian Ababei / Jan 06'2017
7 Dark UX Patterns and Their Negative Impact on Your Brand Reputation
Will you be a superhero or a villain? What are you going to do with all those superpowers that UX invests you with?    Will you be a superhero willing to build trust and to nourish long term relationships with his/her users or a manipulative villain driven by his urge to get his numbers up at all costs?   UX invests you with so much power! It practically reveals to you all the valuable cognitive psychological biases, all the mechanisms to use for triggering certain emotions in your customers (pride, greed, anger, envy etc.) and for manipulating them to act in certain ways.   It's this power that can either help you gain success or ruin you (you sooner or letter)!   A solid understanding of user psychology, when used the right way, will help you "perfect" your visitor's journey on your website. It gives you the ideal resources for making this journey as logical, intuitive, pleasant and meaningful as possible. Good UX leads to happy customers first, then to loyal customers!   A solid understanding of user psychology, when used the “bad” way will help you deceive your visitors, through certain tricks applied to your interface. It will help you influence them to carry out certain actions that are beneficial exclusively for your business: purchasing, subscribing, installing your software on their devices, revealing the details of their credit cards etc.   In this respect, here are some of the most “popular” manipulative design practices that have taken over the internet (being widely used even by some of the most influential brands, too) and that we advise you to stay away from (“Better safe than sorry!”):   1. The Disguised Ads    You click on what looks like “genuine” copy and "Boom!": a commercial pops up on your screen or (and this is the really bad scenario) a software starts to download on your device!   Does this sound familiar to you? Have you been there already? Have you visited that website since the “incident”?   Well, if you've already been a “victim” yourself, then you (should) have even more reasons to empathize with your own customers: don't use disguised ads on your website! It will only grant you (really) short term gains, but you'll lose a potentially loyal customer (which is gold) and credibility.   2. The Roach Motel   Here is another tricky web design practice that's widely used by web/apps owners, accepted and “perceived” as “an innocent little scam” (pick a web developer at random and he/she will deny that the "roach motel" might be considered as a “truly” deceiving practice). When it fact it's nothing but a skillfully crafted means to trick and to retain users.   You convince them to subscribe to your newsletter or to sign up for your your software free trial, then you turn the whole process of unsubscribing into a discouraging “ordeal”.     By deceiving your users and hiding away from them the information on how they can close their accounts, you will get them hooked on your product for a long, long, long time!   Step into the light! Use your UX superpowers the right way:   inform your users, from the very beginning, that they'll actually need to call you or to write to you if they decide to unsubscribe make your unsubscribing method(s) visible on your website    Turn UX into a force for good!   3. The Forced Continuity   This UX design practice is so ingrained into the digital world that you might even not perceive it as “dark”, but simply as “common”.   How does it work? Picture this scenario: you “lure” your online customers to sign up to your free trial and it's at this point, as well, that you ask them for their credit card details. You're also cunning enough to let them know that they have total control over their accounts, meaning that they get to cancel their memberships any time after the trial period if they're not satisfied with your product (or due to any other reason).    What you (let's assume that it's you who is using this “devilish” UX technique) rely on is that in many cases users forget to unsubscribe after the trial period and that you get to keep charging them, since you have their credit card details.   In those rare cases when they do remember to close their accounts, you'll make it as discouragingly hard for them to do that as possible.   Tricky isn't it? We, at OPTASY, our web design company in Toronto, think it's just “lame” to “glue” customers to your products against their will instead of making them desire your product!   Step into the light and use your UX superpowers the right way:   notify your customers once the end trail ends and give them the possibility to choose whether they cancel or continue to use your product/service make your cancellation method/policy visible on your website   4. The Sneak Into Basket   Now this is one annoying UX design practice (from the online shopper's perspective), that way too many e-commerce websites continue to use!   How does it work? Let's assume you're the next “victim”: you add an item to your shopping cart and you then realize that the website has automatically added another product or service (such as insurance), that you don't want to purchase. Or at least you would have preferred to be asked if you wanted to purchase it before instead of having it “sneaked into” your basket.   OK, so you might “trick” some clients and increase your gains, but just imagine all the negative publicity that all those frustrated customers will create around your brand!    Not only that you'll lose those specific customers, but by spreading the news about the bad experience they will have had on your site, they'll discourage your potential customers, as well, from ever accessing your site.   5. The Misdirection/ The Bait and Switch   A more than suggestive short description of this deceiving practice would be: changing the patterns that you've set up on your website and that your user will have got accustomed to, without warning him/her!   Therefore, you take him/her by surprise and “trick” him into performing a certain action.   In most cases it's about clicking a link/button which, till then, used to lead to a certain page, with no exception: your visitor will click on it without knowing that he/she has just bitten your “bait”.   Now try to imagine the long-term consequences, especially if you're using this deceiving technique for tricking your customers to spend their money on certain items on your website!    Step into the light! Use your UX superpowers the right way:   make all the options of same size and equally visible ask for your user's confirmation: give him the choice to either continue or to cancel    6. The Scarcity Inflation    Admit it it! How many times a day does your inbox get “loaded” with newsletters striving to catch your attention and to make you react immediately to expressions such as: “Only 1 hour left till”, “Hurry Up! The sales end today”, “Only a few left!” etc.?   This deceiving pattern, too, is “exploited” to such extent in the highly competitive digital world (where competition for customers is truly fierce), that you may even not even perceive it as “sinister” and manipulative.    But it sure is! Our advice for you is not to go there: don't “exploit” your users' emotional biases towards scarcity and limited availability. Building trust should be one of  UX design's most honorable goals!   Unless, of course, you do have limited availability to certain products/services that you promote on your website.   7. The Trick Questions   Resist the temptation to “exploit” users' tendency to (just) scan through the written content on a website and to use deceiving copy for disguising opt-in buttons as opt-out buttons!   Be better than that! Be future-oriented instead of (just) “hunting” only short-term gains!   Put these 7 UX patterns on your “Not To-Do List” and decide to put on your superhero “costume” instead of your villain mask! ... Read more
Adrian Ababei / Dec 21'2016