What Website Makers Have Been Missing Until Now

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Written by Kira Goldring

Simbla online database website maker

When the first cell phone was created in 1973, no one would have guessed that just forty years later the majority of the population would unfailingly rely on them for a plethora of things that have nothing to do with calling another person. In the last decade or so, a device that began as a means of communicating with others on the go has morphed into a mini-computer that can be carried around in your pocket, answer most of your questions, and entertain you ’till the sun goes down. And carried they are; these ubiquitous smartphones have generated a forty percent increase in mobile phone users over the last fifteen years, for the underlying reason that they serve our needs. Yes, that 1973 cell phone was a wonderful first step for mankind, but it was apparent that that’s all it was: a first step. The smartphone, on the other hand, was the real prize.

In the realm of DIY website making, we are still stuck on that first step; we’ve only succeeded insofar as to create basic websites to self-market our brands, a nice feat in itself but not even close to enough. What we are still lacking is the autonomy to push the boundaries of website making; if we want to add things like an online database or web applications to our websites, we’re right back at square one—needing to appeal to external, expensive resources, hire third-party developers or acquire widgets to do the job for us. It’s time to revolutionize the way we think about website makers and the capabilities they afford us, to realize that what they allow us to do barely scratches the surface of what we need to be able to accomplish independently. Until now, website building has just been the pretty face on a much bigger canvas that has never been painted before: a complete online business environment.

Easy to navigate database list
Registered user panel
Role system interface
Database table panel

 

For the first time in website-making history, Simbla has bravely jumped into the revolutionary bath and came out unscathed, by integrating a UI/UX environment with a brand new online database that can also produce web-based applications. This unprecedented combination is what will drive the future of website making, i.e. the ability for SMBs to create an entire online business environment by themselves, without having to turn to outside sources for help.

Before we broach the subject of this unparalleled database, let’s explore some of Simbla’s more well-known features as a website maker. Their UI/UX platform encompasses a number of useful tools to assist anyone from beginner to expert in making their website:

  • Responsive—The websites are compatible with both computer and mobile devices, such as smartphones or tablets, so you only have to make your website once.
  • Drag and Drop—So easy a baby could do it. Simply click on the design blocks you like, drag them wherever you want them positioned onto your page, and voila—your layout is complete. Unlike with some of the other website makers available, Simbla’s platform doesn’t lock the users in to using rigid or strict templates when choosing the design of their sites.
  • SEO friendly—Because Simbla’s sites are HTML5 based, all the content you insert is read as text which is picked up by search engines like Google. On top of this, Simbla provides a number of features that further enhances your site’s SEO.
  • Design tools—Graphic designers, you’ll enjoy this one! To ensure that your websites appear sleek, Simbla offers a theme maker, which will instantly change the overall look of your website while preserving the content, background images that include video backgrounds, and an easy-to-use parallax effect.

 

Designers heaven

Designer heaven

 

But the newest and most key feature on top of all of this is the addition of an online database builder to Simbla’s website-making package. This means you can now create your own database tables, define columns, add records, organize the data in an efficient and intuitive manner, and control who has permission to access it and how, by managing who can modify, create, obtain and remove data sets. You’ll have the ability to decide who the users are and establish their roles, and you won’t be limited to choosing one setting for everyone; you can individually customize who can perform which actions by assigning rights to different users, such as “read,” “delete,” “create,” “get,” and “update.” Setting up the database and its permissions is simple, and it can be easily incorporated into your website.

Easy to edit table interface
Add record form
Database driven gallery final result

 

The future of third-party web widgets is at stake here, because the database you create with Simbla will give you the option to use “database widgets” that will connect to your online database and allow you to do things like create a login page for registered users, create a search form filtering the returned results and allow users to view, edit and add records. The newly registered users will then be shown in the database area. Owing to the sizable amount of options the widgets offer, users can choose to combine these app widgets and create their own basic data-driven applications, or produce more complex ones by utilizing a custom JavaScript API to suit their individual needs for database requests. In addition to the tailored applications users can construct, Simbla is in the midst of creating ready-made web applications that users will be able to choose from to perform complex processes, such as managing leads and clients, controlling sale processes, utilizing a straightforward blog system and more.

New features on the way

New features on the way

 

This integration of web-based applications with a database builder and UI/UX environment is a mind-blowing leap for SMBs: Finally, the smartphone of website makers has arrived. The possibilities it can afford you as a business are vast, cementing the point that Simbla has journeyed where no other website maker has before. You can now have your cake and eat it too: It’s time to upgrade from simply making websites to establishing a complete online business environment—you owe it to yourself. Thanks to Simbla, your need has finally been met.


 

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Create Dots Along Spiral Path in Illustrator

Dansky_How to Create Progressively Larger Dots Along a Spiral Path in Adobe Illustrator

In this tutorial, we’re going to learn how to create progressively larger dots along a spiral path in Adobe Illustrator.

The Steps (1-9)

1. Create a new document 800×800 pixels.

2. Left-click and Hold on the Line Segment Tool to reveal the dropdown menu and select the Spiral Tool.

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3. Left-click anywhere on the artboard to draw a spiral shape, using Alt and Cmd/Ctrl to adjust the line spacing and complexity of the spiral.

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4. Next, select the Ellipse Tool and hold Shift to draw a small circle with a Black Fill. Centrally position this circle on the inner-most tip of the spiral.

5. Repeat Step 4 instead with a larger circle, and place this larger circle on the outer-most tip of the spiral.

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6. Hold Shift to select the two circles and go to Object > Blend > Blend Options. Enter 30 as the number of Specified Steps, and select Align to Path as the Orientation. Go to Object > Blend > Make, to see the additional circles added, connecting the two circles.

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7. Select everything on the artboard and go to Object > Blend > Replace Spine to position all 30 circles along the ‘spine’ of the spiral.

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8. Double-click on either the smallest or largest circle (created in Steps 4-5) to go inside the Blend Group, whereby editing either of these original shapes, will affect all of the other 30 Specified Steps in between.

9. The number of Specified Steps can also be edited further, by going to Object > Blend > Blend Options, and adjusting the settings as necessary.

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Download Adobe Illustrator.

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eCommerce Themes That Are Perfect For Building a Shop

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You can choose a multipurpose theme that has all the features you need to build an online store, or you can select a theme that is specifically oriented toward the eCommerce genre. You’ll find both types here, and all are premium themes. No matter which theme you may choose, you can’t just sit back and let it do all of the work. There are a few things you should take into account, if you want your eCommerce venture to be a rousing success.

  • There’s nothing wrong with innovation; but you don’t want to be overly clever when designing an online store. Don’t make your customers have to think. They know what they want, and it’s your job to help them find it.
  • Keep your homepage banner relatively simple. You don’t have to devote a huge amount of resources toward building it. Let your home page speak for itself.
  • Keep your product displays consistent. It’s OK to copycat what other stores do. Customers always feel more comfortable when they find themselves in familiar surroundings.
  • Always use a responsive theme. Half or more of your store’s visitors are probably shopping from mobile devices. Don’t let them slip through the crack.
  • Select a fast, lightweight theme if you want to sell a product. That will not be a problem, if you choose one of the following seven.

XStore-Responsive WooCommerce Theme

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XStore’s authors took the first law of usability – “Don’t make people think.” – to heart when they designed and developed this premium eCommerce theme. XStore literally guides you by the hand as you are building your online store, making it easy for you to extend the first law of usability into the workings of your website.

The tools, settings, and pages you need are all there. Each of 27 demos has a modern, somewhat minimalist look. Innovative features abound; but the emphasis is definitely on presenting a familiar look to your store’s visitors.

XStore is responsive, retina ready, and RTL and WPML ready as well; so there’s really no limit to the size of the customer base you can reach out to. Visual Composer and Slider Revolution plugins are included, and XStore is of course 100% WooCommerce compatible.

The level of user support is what is to be expected with a premium theme – great. A video tutorial is included to give you any help you may need with install or settings. More video tutorials are being added as we speak.

Merchandiser

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Merchandiser has all the features you need to build the perfect online store, and none of the features that you have no use for. In other words, this premium eCommerce theme is a minimalist theme, both in design, and in terms of fast and efficient performance.

Its guiding philosophy – simplicity is the ultimate in sophistication –  is a philosophy well worth adapting to your web-building ventures. Merchandiser makes it easy for you to do just that.

The Theme Customizer provides you with all of the flexibility you need, while the popular Visual Composer drag and drop page builder enables you to turn out high-quality work at a rapid clip. Merchandiser also offers several online shopping features your store’s visitors will appreciate. You can sell anything online, including setting up an affiliate store, when using this eCommerce theme.

 

Woutique

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Woutique is not a WooCommerce compatible theme; it’s a WooCommerce theme. As such, every one of WooCommerce’s widgets have been put into play. So has each of the WooCommerce plugin’s key components, including product categories and descriptions, cart, checkout, and user account sections.

Everything you need is here, plus Woutique is a free download. Whether you are a long- time web designer, or relatively new to the game, this WooCommerce product is worth a try.

 

KLEO – Pro Community Focused, Multipurpose Theme

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Although KLEO can definitely be called a multipurpose theme, it has a number features than makes it an excellent choice for eCommerce website builders. Among the key features of KLEO, in addition to its excellent selection of demos, are the 24 plugins that come with the package. Some of the usual WP plugins are included, but you’ll also find a number of plugins, including WooCommerce, that are specifically directed at helping a web designer build an online shop.

 

Uncode – Creative Multiuse WordPress Theme

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Massive options, special pages, interactive features, and its collection of 30  homepage concepts all combine to make Uncode one of the most exciting eCommerce themes on the market. The Advance Grid system pushes layout design to the cutting edge, while the Adaptive Images feature makes Uncode super-responsive. An enhanced version of the popular Visual Composer builder is included in the package.

If a WP theme capable of building anything you can think of is on your shopping list, Uncode is a solid choice, and a good investment.

 

Divi

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Divi has a number of things going for it that has made it a top-selling theme, including the impressive Divi Builder. Another feature users particularly like is this themes 46 customizable content blocks, which make it oh-so-easy to put a page together. Or, an entire online store for that matter; since several of these content blocks directly address eCommerce needs, Divi is another superb multipurpose WP theme that would be an ideal choice for building your online store, quickly, and down to the most minute details.

 

Merchant WordPress Theme

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Merchant is super-responsive, it’s translation ready, and it’s super flexible. It’s also modern, and hip. Its Easy Layout Creator is more than just a name. Ease of use is this eCommerce theme’s trademark. Build your online shop, or display your products or services in an awesome portfolio. Merchant also has the features you need to publish an online product catalog.

Merchant features an excellent support forum that’s loaded with information on everything from optimizing your use of WordPress, to tying in to social media.

 

***

Picking an eCommerce theme from seven of the very best isn’t necessarily an easy task, but at least you can’t make a poor choice. It may be that a multipurpose theme will suit you best, or it may be the other way around, where selecting a theme more heavily oriented toward building eCommerce sites would make better sense.

Either way, any one of these themes will be a good investment. Just make sure to keep in mind the eCommerce web-building tips offered up front. These eCommerce themes are capable of producing awesome, super-responsive, pixel-perfect online stores, but it’s up to you to ensure your users don’t have to think.

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Data-Driven Web Design

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The vast majority of websites are designed in the hopes that visitors will complete an action. Buying, subscribing, commenting… from massive social media juggernauts like Facebook, to small artisan websites selling local, hand-made crafts, this is true. Marketing has always been about understanding the subtle ways which presentation, repetition, and other visual or sensory artifacts can influence the decision-making patterns of consumers. Marketing, almost since it’s inception, has relied on data – in the form of research of all kinds – to achieve its end goal. So, data-driven web design is, all-told, simply any kind of website design which utilized visitor data to modify design for optimal results.

The ability of websites to respond to data has dramatically improved in recent years. The advent of easily-parseable analytics platforms, self-modifying websites, and other fantastic tech tools have allowed website designers to modify their product to more optimally meet the goals of the owner in real-time. We’re going to talk today about using data to draw the line between visitor data and design improvements which maximize benefit both to the owner and the end user.

Because it is also true that web design should always serve the visitor, a design which is overcomplicated or tedious for users will almost always fail, in some respect, in the goal of its use.

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Data-Driven Design:
Sure, marketing or user data has almost always been used to influence and guide web design to some degree, but what does data-driven design mean for us today? The answer to that question requires taking a good look at what data is. Most data is either quantitative (numerical) or qualitative (non-numerical). And the vast majority of easily-accessible data is quantitative. For example, Google Analytics informing you that 10 visitors viewed one blog page, while 1 visitor stopped by another.

Qualitative data is important. Following the numbers can help you find what visitors value and what they do. But it doesn’t tell you why they like it. And understanding that requires qualitative data. The best web design companies are pushing the field by getting qualitative data and modifying their designs based on this data. They’re using beta-testing systems and getting powerful, direct feedback.

A good data-driven design program will always use both kinds of data. Testing, analysis, and feedback systems are continuous, rather than one-off, and therefore provide deeper insights on what visitors prefer and want the websites they visit to do for them. It is this kind of deep-digging which pushes the horizon of design forward in ways which are meaningful for users.

Getting Specific, Actionable Data:
Whether the data used in data-driven design is numerical or no, it must always be empirical, and address specific questions. Whether you’re a UX designer or a data analyst, a little bit of scientific inquiry comes into play at some point, because you’re not just wanting to look at aggregate data… but to answer specific questions.

Hypothetically, this could look like a situation in which a blog or online magazine, which has hired a designer to update their website. The goal of the website is to keep visitors engaged and to provide useful information, but also to increase subscriptions. As a designer, those are several goals to meet, and ideally you should begin studying the existing website to identify key areas of improvement.

Key quantitative data metrics you might study include the bounce and exit rates, and find out which pages have the highest in each category. This provides information on a ‘what’ which you should try to address! From there, you might use UX testing to get qualitative data from visitors on their experiences from these pages to find out the why. User-reported information might reveal that page-specific CSS makes exit links larger or more obvious on these pages, therefore funneling users away. Lots of moving elements might bog down the pages, providing a negative user experience.

But in this hypothetical situation, you have used empirical information addressing specific issues to yield information which should influence design decisions. And when you start employing this one-two punch to achieve great design, you’ll realize some amazing trends.

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The Big Takeaways of Data-Driven Design:
Applying data-driven design has helped push design elements which were once novel and boutique into the realm of commonality. Responsiveness, high-contrast CTAs, flat design elements were all once thoroughly tested and checked by data-driven design teams. But that’s just the beginning! Increasingly, data-driven design is finding that design decisions should be tailored to specific audiences. Right now, this is most commonly seen as different landing pages or page elements for different geolocated areas. But designers are even experimenting with segmenting design by audiences even more: by age, for example.

Testing for data and then using that data to modify design can be resource-intensive, that’s true; but even small, focused efforts can result in big improvements for clients, and the increasing ability to meet the goals of the websites we’re building.

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Bateaux – The Only Theme You Ever Need

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Universally, everything that sticks around for a while undergoes a process of specialization, and WordPress is not an exception to this rule. WP has been with us for a long time, boasts a widespread amount of installs, and it’s periodically worked on, and updated. On the front-end side of things, any developer will have not failed to notice that themes, with time, have shifted more and more out of static design forms. They have evolved into design tools in themselves, in the sense that their aim is to become “The Only Theme You Ever Need”. What they mean is that, instead of being locked up into a static design as it used to be the norm, you get a set of building blocks to design your own themes ad infinitum.

01_preview.__large_preview“When you do, you’ll be treated to a very different experience in the way of edition: a really fast, interactive, and well thought interface”

 

I find this “multi-purpose” idea brilliant, both from a design and a practical perspective. In terms of design, learning a particular tool well leads to more confidence, speed, and recycling. From a practical perspective, there’s no need to spend any more time or money hunting for themes for your next project: make up your own with the tools you know, and recycle your best blocks and components.

In the search for the theme to end all themes, I’ve run into Bateaux, by developer TwistTheme, so let’s see how well it fills this niche.

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OPENING

The download is about 30 mb, and the first pleasant surprise is the inclusion of a child theme to work on without fear of losing your tweaks with the next update. After installing the theme and the core plugins, the next move is either to configure everything from zero, or to perform an import of the included sample data and take it from there. The sample designs are pretty cool and will get you on your way very quickly if you don’t have the time to re-invent the wheel. Control over typography is handled through Google Fonts, Typekit and Custom Fonts. The theme is multi-language through WPML integration, and not only does it support WooCommerce, it comes preloaded with modules for it, and offers tailored options when you’re editing a product page. This is great.

The theme’s looks and behavior are controlled via the Customizer, and it’s refreshing to have buttons that show what everything looks like in tablets and mobiles, with instant visualization. After all the setting-up is done, your next stop will be to become familiar with the strongest feature of this theme, which is the signature “Blueprint” page-builder.

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The Blueprint page-builder is an original invention of the authors, and you can tell they have poured a lot of effort into it. Essentially it’s a separate app, available whenever you edit a post or a page. You can opt to edit in the classic way, or to fire Blueprint. When you do, you’ll be treated to a very different experience in the way of edition: a really fast, interactive, and well thought interface, which you can use to build your creations: structure sections within sections, edit properties with context-aware option panels (it includes a full-screen button to maximize space, and a Preview button -which works in real time- as well) and a lot more.

Through Blueprint, you will play around with lots of universal building blocks such as blog entries, contact forms, galleries, featured posts, product categories for your shop, sliders, and also elements unique to Bateaux, such as testimonials, team, modal (pop-ups), and other interactive elements. This, in sum, is where the action happens, and the core area from where you can unleash your creative potential to invent something new, or simply use any of the included templates, which look already great in terms of grid design and visual space. It will take some time to get used to, but probably visual design interfaces are where the future of WordPress is heading towards. Bateaux’s Blueprint editor does a really fine job at offering all of that today. To sum up Bateaux:

THE GOOD:

  • Great design, elegant and aesthetic.
  • Truly responsive and retina-ready.
  • Nice included toys like Slider Revolution.
  • Lots of cool templates and designs out of the box.
  • Not only WooCommerce-friendly, but including pre-made designs to deploy right away with your shop.
  • Multi-lingual ready through WPML compatibility. – A bazillion of options for customization.
  • Fast: GTMetrix reports a PageSpeed score of 97%
  • A truly useful, original and quick page-builder that may arguably hold the key to the “last theme you will ever need” WP holy grail: why buy any other theme, if you can build anything you can think of using this one? Moreover, the more you use it the more you’ll know how to get what you want.
  • Clean and light page-builder. Since the author designed Blueprint very light and clean, you will find it very fast compare to other page-builder in the market. Everything interacts real time with no waiting time and need to click “save” button.
  • Zealous, responsive customer service.

THE NOT-SO-GOOD:

  • A lot but worth to learn. The downside of not having to mess with the code is of course the amount of options available, to tweak the theme so it will do what you want. You’ll need to dedicate a certain amount of time to understand where everything is, what it does, and how it does it.
  • The documentation is okay, but needs expanding with more detail on the concepts, and examples. But they are reportedly working on it.

VERDICT

Bateaux is built aesthetically around typography and intelligent grids, with great attention to detail, so it looks gorgeous. It comes with a lot goodies out of the box, and many fantastic designs to kick off. It’s clearly built from the ground up upon the new WP ethos of being not a theme, but a platform to create themes. As such, everything can be adjusted through options, which is great if you look for quick WP development cycles and minimal fiddling with coding. The flip side of so much control is obviously the massive amount of options needed to set everything to your liking. And since each designer crafts their theme according to their own idiosyncrasy and ability, stuff is located in different places, organized under its own internal logic. In that sense, Bateaux needs, in my opinion, to reorganize its options a little bit, and to expand on the documentation. The authors have told me they are indeed working on this.

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In terms of support from the developers, I must say it has been excellent. I have contacted them with a couple of questions and got a succinct reply in less than an hour, which is great in my book (consider other themes’s authors who’ll take a week to reply, if at all). By browsing Bateaux’s support forum you can quickly tell issues are dealt with quickly and efficiently, and that the authors are really behind their theme. Hopefully they will continue to develop it and expand it even further. Highly recommended.

Check out our Demo and More Info!

Bateaux REVIEW by gustavo@unclezeta.com


 

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Bouncy Balls in Adobe Muse – Muse Motion 2

Muse For You - Bouncy Balls in Adobe Muse - Web Design Ledger

 

Create a bouncy ball effect in Adobe Muse with the Muse Motion 2 Widget Powered by Greensock’s Animation Platform (GSAP). No Coding Skills Required.

Adobe Muse CC Logo Muse For You - Adobe Muse CC Greensock Logo

The Greensock Animation Platform (GSAP) is one of the most sophisticated animation platforms available for the web. With the Greensock Animation Platform you can create animation sequences and add animations to individual elements on your website. I was very excited when I first created the Muse Motion 2 widget for Adobe Muse. This gave you access to the Greensock Animation Platform without having to know any code. Developers spend hours fine tuning their code to get great animations. With the Muse Motion 2 widget the Greensock animations can be achieved with just changing a few settings in the widget.
Muse For You - Muse Motion 2 Widget Powered by Greensock's Animations Platform - Adobe Muse CC

In the video above I go over just how easy it is to create a bouncy ball effect in Adobe Muse using the Muse Motion 2 widget. Simply add a few circles, add the widget, set the settings in the widget, and apply the widget to the element. It took me less than 4 minutes to achieve this effect in Adobe Muse with the Muse Motion 2 widget.

Muse For You - Bouncy Balls in Adobe Muse - Web Design Ledger

This is the first video out of a series of videos I will be creating on how to create simple yet sophisticated animations with the Muse Motion 2 widget. I also show the Muse Motion 2 widget combined with the Muse Morph widget to transform SVG elements as they bounce. Hopefully this will inspire you for your own website :).

For more video tutorials and widgets for Adobe Muse visit http://museforyoushop.com.

Happy Musing :).

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Zoey: An eCommerce Platform With A Difference

Zoey Featured

There is no shortage of eCommerce platforms and tools for online businesses. However, most of them suffer from the same flaw: they are either overloaded and bloated, or they rely on heavy customization and coding skills.

Even more so, numerous eCommerce platforms tend to work well only if you extend their functionality by means of addons and plugins. Otherwise, it is nearly impossible to run an eCommerce store.

Ever faced the same problem with eCommerce platforms? If that is the case, this post has a special solution meant for you. Meet Zoey, a new eCommerce platform and online store builder.

What makes Zoey special? Well, it expects no coding skills from you, and works perfectly well right from the start.

Zoey: An eCommerce Platform With A Difference

What is Zoey?

As already stated, Zoey is an eCommerce platform and an online store builder. As an eCommerce platform, Zoey gives you absolute control over your online business. And as a store builder, it lets you put together your online shop within minutes using a handy drag and drop interface. Even if you have never built an online store before, or having no experience in coding, Zoey is very easy to master.

Zoey Featured

We will be giving Zoey a spin later in this article, but first, let us take a look at its major features.

Design

To begin with, Zoey offers an impressive arsenal of web design features that can give any other tool a run for its money. Don’t like coding? Have no fear, the drag and drop builder can be used by anyone. Need pre-made presets and design assets to save your time? How about a special style editor for controlling every single element of your site, and a live preview to help you view your changes in realtime? Yes, Zoey offers all of that.

Plus, since this is the era of the mobile web, Zoey offers special tools to preview and test mobile design. In addition to that, Zoey also comes with several free and fully responsive themes that are ready to be customized as per your needs.

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Infrastructure

Your online store is only as good as the infrastructure it is hosted on. After all, if your visitors find your website offline, there will be sales.

Zoey takes care of everything, thereby giving you time to focus on your actual business. Whether you need specialized datacenter location to target customers from a specific location, or a Content Delivery Network to boost the performance of your store, Zoey offers it all. You get to choose from 10 globally distributed datacenters and powerful scalable hardware. Your store also gets unlimited bandwidth, so have no fear even if you get millions of hits daily.

Also, Zoey implements site-wide HTTPS to foster a feeling of trust and security for your visitors and clients.

Marketing, Payments and Operations

Zoey offers a large array of marketing tools to help you drive more traffic and sales to your store. You can run batch promotions, discounts, special coupons and gift deals. Zoey has Search Engine Optimization tools that you can utilize in your store such as site wide HTTPS, advanced site map, and mobile friendly design. These are all things that Google looks at to give you a higher rankings in search. Zoey also gives you the freedom to customize H1 tags, title tags, meta descriptions, URLs and more to improve rankings.

Zoey comes with detailed statistics and reports for cases such as cart abandonment. You can also integrate it with various other platforms such as Google AdWords, Optimizely and MailChimp.

You can implement over 50 payment gateways on your store, including credit cards, PayPal, bank transfers and Cash on Delivery. If you are selling physical good on your store, you can select from various shipping carriers, manage inventory and even integrate with the likes of Etsy and eBay.

B2B eCommerce

Screen Shot 2016-08-19 at 11.13.52 AMIf you are running a wholesale business or B2B store, Zoey is the ultimate solution for you. Now merchants take take advantage of essential features needed to run a B2B business, such as site access restrictions. This will allow you to control the customers who can access your store or which customers have the ability to checkout. You can make the entire store password-protected so only the customers that you have pre-approved on the backend can view your store. Another setting in B2B is the pricing flexibility – which is extremely important for any B2B business. Zoey let’s you customize pricing based on customer group and order volume so you can manage different pricing for wholesale and retail customers. Furthermore, you can allow bulk orders, offer custom pricing for B2B buyers, and so on.

Well, enough with the features. How does Zoey perform in reality? I decided to give Zoey a spin and find out.

Zoey in Action

Once you successfully login to the admin panel, you will find it fairly similar to any modern-day CMS out there. There are specialized menus for each function to help you get started. I am going to run each menu one at a time, so as to give you a comprehensive picture of all that you can expect from Zoey.

Zoey Menu

The first menu is fairly simple, whereas the Orders menu lets you view new orders and manage them accordingly. However, the standout menu, in my view, is the Analytics section. Now, many eCommerce platforms tend to outsource analytics to external services, such as Google Analytics or likewise. However, Zoey offers it all for you straight in the admin panel. You get details such as total number of orders, conversion rate, revenue earned, purchase funnel, etc. Furthermore, you also get to view analytics related to abandoned carts to help you better optimize your site.

Zoey Analytics eCommerce

Adding products to your store is a breeze too. You can setup categories and attributes, specify gift cards or discounts, and add a product within minutes. Interestingly, Zoey lets you add SEO details, and upsell or cross-sell features right at the time when you add a new product. There is no special extension or page that you need to visit.

Add Products eCommerce

Similarly, you can create lists and groups of your customers, or export that list as a backup. Adding a discount rule is also pretty easy, perfectly with all the conditions and time limits for the particular discount.

Zoey Add Customer

In the Setup menu, you can add details such as shipping, localization, taxation, et al. Similarly, for advanced users, there are API integrations, URL rewrites and various other options available in the Advanced menu.

However, one of the most striking feature of Zoey is the Blog menu. Now, there are numerous blogging platforms out there, and there are numerous eCommerce platforms out there. However, what if your eCommerce solution allowed you to run your blog natively? I know many big online stores that use an external solution, such as WordPress or Ghost, to run their blog. This is often an unwanted maintenance on their hands, because more often than not, online stores tend to use their blogs only to mouth the company developments, announce new deals, etc.

Zoey lets you run a blog from the admin panel itself. You just need to specify a blog address (such as mystore.com/blog or mystore.com/notes and so on), and then get started with writing.

Blogging Zoey

You can add excerpts, categories and tags to your posts in the blog.

Blogging eCommerce

As you can observe, Zoey’s backend is fairly simple and straightforward that can be mastered within minutes.

But wait, aren’t we forgetting something?

Yes, the drag and drop editor!

All you need to do is hit Edit My Design, and then select the page that you wish to edit.

Zoey Edit

All edits happen live with previews, so you can be sure of what you are doing. You can drag and drop elements, or add new elements directly in the live editor.

Drag and Drop

All themes are free and responsive, so you can select whichever one that you love the most.

Themes

Pricing

Zoey offers three plans for you to choose from. All plans come with support for responsive themes, advanced analytics, unlimited storage and bandwidth, custom domains, as well as Point of Sale and Amazon/eBay integrations.

Professional Plan costs $89 per month. If you need something extra, opt for the Business Plan at $199 per month that comes with support for HTTPS, B2B functionality, CDN, and multiple languages and currencies.

Beyond that, there is also the Premier plan that starts at $599 per month. It comes with enterprise level features such as custom apps and design, a dedicated account manager with priority support, and a lot more.

All plans come with a 14-day free trial, so you can give them a try with no string attached. Also, there are no setup or transaction fees involved in any plan.

Conclusion

Running an eCommerce store is complicated business. You have to take care of shipping, product management, taxes, customer support, and a lot more. Quite obviously, website management and development as well as hosting can be another chore that you’d be better off avoiding.

Zoey is very clearly a good fit for online stores and businesses. It does its job well, and lets you focus on the actual management of your business. You can easily forget about web hosting, running custom scripts to integrate payment gateways, or paying a hefty fees for getting a responsive site.

Furthermore, if you are a web designer yourself or a web design agency, you should by all means give Zoey a try right away! It goes without saying that you must be having various clients asking you to setup a website for their eCommerce store. Using Zoey, you can setup websites and stores within minutes, and since the interface is beginner-friendly, you can pass on the website to the clients easily.

So what are you waiting for? Go ahead and make use of the 14-day free trial, and check out Zoey right away!

Read More at Zoey: An eCommerce Platform With A Difference

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Homeschool Web Design Course

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Hi!

Everyone knows that kids who learn to code will have a big advantage in the workplace and in life. Besides the fact that coding is a valuable skillset with an amazing number of high paying jobs, the mental training that comes with learning to code cannot be underestimated.

Homeschooling your kids in code

If you don’t know web design and coding, you need a structured curriculum that will gently teach your kids. Courses have to be easy to understand, fun and practical. Nothing motivates kids to learn when they see that they are doing real things.

… What’s more fun for a kid, to learn to drive a go-cart, or a real car!

Which coding languages should kids learn?

Teaching your kids to code in any language is great, but I would say the most important and effective languages to teach are the languages of the Web:

  1. HTML5
  2. CSS3
  3. JavaScript

Besides being used to create all the world’s websites and web apps (ex: google, facebook, amazon), these coding languages are also a popular choice in creating games and mobile apps that work on iPhone, iPads, Android devices and even Windows mobile devices.

Another great thing about these languages is that they are visual – students see their code come to life in real-world projects. This touch of reality is far more engaging than writing code that moves a character around a screen in a simulator.

StudioWeb for homeschooling

We’ve been developing StudioWeb for 5 years now, working with dozens and dozens of schools and many thousands of students, and now we have a homeschool program that is totally cost-effective: $35 per account.  Parents, you will need an account to manage your classroom, and to access all the extras. So a family with 2 kids:

parent: $35
2 kids: $70

Total: $105

If you are interested, feel free to contact me.

Stefan Mischook
StudioWeb

 

The post Homeschool Web Design Course appeared first on How to Build Websites.

Zoey Business Subscription Giveaway

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Zoey is an all-in-one eCommerce platform for ambitious merchants, and was built to offer a refreshing alternative: the ease of use of hosted platforms paired with the power of an on-premise solution.

We are giving away FREE Business Subscriptions to three lucky winners – Enter the Zoey Subscription Giveaway today.

1st Prize: One year FREE on Zoeya $2,388 value
2nd Prize: Six months FREE on Zoeya $1,194 value
3rd prize: Three months FREE on Zoeya $597 value

 

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Read More at Zoey Business Subscription Giveaway

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