Luminar: The Hot Editing App That Adapts to You

As an online professional, you naturally have your share of problems to solve and challenges to face. You look for tools to help you work your problems, ease your workload, and contribute to building better products.

One of the challenges you likely face is working with images. Unless you happen to be a professional photographer or at least a very experience one, you have to rely on other sources when you are in need of quality photos. Even if you have a basic photo editing tool, it may not suffice, and you’ve found that tools that can do the job are often cumbersome to work with, or have a steep learning curve.

If you happen to be a Mac user, here’s some good news for you.

            Check out Luminar; the new photo editor for Mac that adjusts to your skillset.

  • Luminar is the perfect photo editor for your creative imagery projects.
  • Online marketing? Luminar enables you to create the attractive images required to adequately support a marketing campaign.
  • Luminar can help to brand you as a pro blogger.

Luminar Mac photo editor is precisely what you need to get your output to the next level.

The World’s First Photo Editing Software That Adapts to Your Skill Level and  Style

Highly sophisticated, complex apps can be more trouble to try to work with that they are worth; or so it seems at times. This isn’t true with Luminar. Luminar is indeed a sophisticated, complex piece of software, but it’s UI is oh so friendly and easy to work with. You can do a bang-up photo editing and enhancing job the first time through, and you’ll only get better.

This brief tutorial demonstrates just how easily Luminar adapts to your skill level in spite of its many powerful and versatile features. Check out this table comparing Luminar’s features with those of Aperture and Lightroom to see for yourself.

Color Splash

There are several ways to create a color splash effect, each of which is quite simple. You can, for example, create the effect with a B&W filter and masking brush. Load the file and click on the “Add Filter” button to see the image in B&W. Then, click on the Brush icon, select the Brush Erasing mode, and brush out the monochrome to restore the color.

Image Resizing

Upload an image in Luminar, edit it, and click “Shift-Command-E” to launch the export menu. The choose the appropriate sizing more, and click Save. The result? Your image is resized to your specifications.

 

Get Creative with Luminar

Nestled within Luminar’s amazing toolkit are three filters designed to get your creative juices flowing. You can do some amazing things with the Texture Overlay, Dramatic, and Color Temperature filters, as you will see when viewing the videos.

 

The Color Temperature Filter

You can make some images more relaxing by cooling them down using a bluish hue. Others can be made more intense, by warming them up using a reddish hue. Simply pick Color Temperature from the menu, and adjust the red or blue slider buttons (temperature and tint) as shown in the video. Like the other features found in this Mac image editor, this one is a breeze to work with.

 

Adding Texture with the Texture Overlay Filter

This can be an enjoyable experience; one in which you can do a great deal of experimenting to get a result that you find especially appealing. This could be a grungy look, a vintage look, or something that could best be described as uniquely creative.

It’s simply a matter of selecting the Texture Overlay filter, choosing a texture, and adjusting the lightness/darkness as you’ll see in this video:

 

The Dramatic Filter

As the name implies, the Dramatic filter allows you to create some downright exciting images. This filter helps make Luminar an image editor Mac users simply love working with. The video demonstrates the stunning results you can achieve by giving a photo an urban, gritty look. Simply select “Dramatic” in the menu, and use the slider button to get the result you want.

 

5 Cool Features Unique to Luminar that Offer a Special Touch

                                    With these unique features, you can get results like this!

  1.  Split Color Warmth – One slider is for warm colors, one is for cool colors. Adjusting them to add warmth, or produce a cool hue, enables you to do some creative toning, or increase a photo’s vibrancy.

2. Split Toning – You may wish to add color to either highlighted or shadowy regions in a photograph. Simply select the region type, and adjust the hue and saturation sliders. The “Amount slider” is used to increase overall intensity.

3.  Golden Hour – This is a must-have filter when your sunset or sunrise photos are either too dark, or the anticipated subtle lighting effects appear washed out. Golden Hour’s sliders allow you to intensify subtle sunrise/sunset tones; or emulate them.

4.  DeHaze – This filter lets you cut through haze and fog to bring out details that risk being lost in the mist. This tool consists of a single slider button.

5.  Workspaces – This cool feature is a time saver. It allows you to set up one or more workspaces consisting of filters commonly used for various types of photographs. Once you’ve selected a workspace, you can modify it if needed.

 

Luminar can be used in several ways. You can use it as standalone software, as a plugin for Lightroom, Aperture, or Photoshop, or as an extension for Photos.

The easiest and best way to learn more about this impressive photo editor is to take it for a test drive.

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Unveil Secrets of the Best Converting CTA Buttons

call-to-action buttons

The power of call-to-action buttons shouldn’t be underestimated. This is probably one of the most effective conversion-generating elements on your site. Although it may not seem to be as informative as the main body of your page/article/headline, but is probably the last chance to motivate your visitors to take an action as they scan through your content. So, what are the secrets of the proper use of CTA buttons on your site or blog? How to make them bring you the desired results? Let’s find it out.

CTA buttons play a huge role in your online marketing efforts. In the contemporary highly competitive world, it’s not enough to create “good” content only. Every piece of information that you share on your blog or site should be compelling and appealing to your audience so that it triggers their emotions and motivates for an action. Text links within your copy can also help you encourage the readers to click. Still, call-to-action buttons are considered as the most effective clickable element of your site, which can also boost your conversion rates.

A good call to action is the one that encourages people to click. If it neither catches the eye nor triggers any emotions, then there is no point to keep it on the page. Believe it or not, but with some simple tweaks can turn a CTA button into a powerful lead generating engine that can grow your site’s conversions to a great degree. Before we dig deeper in investigating the major secrets of clickable call-to-action buttons, let’s cast a glance at the basic tips to consider.

Must-follow tips:

  • Any CTA button that you add to your website should complement with its overall design and look contrasting to its background.
  • The button should look natural within interface. The key factors that influence the way you need to present it on your web project are the industry to which you are related, your audience, the type of content/products you represent, etc.

CTA buttons come in different shapes, colors, sizes. They also feature different texts and positioning. Which choices are the most effective for your web project? Which ones will bring the desired conversions? Let’s now uncover the major principles of clickable call-to-action buttons.

Wording for CTA Buttons

When it comes to CTAs, texts are far more important than their graphical presentation. Call-to-action buttons should clearly communicate what action a person will make with a click. A word or a phrase that you write on it should trigger clicks and sales, as well as communicate the benefit. So, what are the right words to add to CTA buttons?

call to action button

      • To make people curious about what you are saying, you can enhance a CTA button with “See …” phrase.
      • Those users who are thirsty for knowledge will find phrases starting with “Read …” appealing.

call to action button

call to action button

Keep the copy short and easy to understand for a wide audience. You can also make call-to-action buttons more actionable while adding “Now” to the text. Moreover, you can enhance the buttons with widely-recognizable signs like arrows pointing at the button and images/cartoons/animations staring at it.

A message containing a CTA button converts 2.5 times better than the one featuring pure texts. The stats is taken from a study conducted by Adroll on Facebook back in 2014. Still, different buttons target different audiences. For example, a “Book Now” is more likely to convert better on travel sites, “Learn More” is for education resources, “Download” is for marketing experts interested in getting a new e-book, etc.

 

call to action button
In order to make your business a success, you need to guide people to the places where they are expected to take an action. Before we move to specific practical tips, let’s consider the key ways how to “prepare” the audience for conversion.

  • Resonate with the needs of your audience.
  • Show a reason to take the next step.
  • Communicate every statement clearly.
  • Ask to click and explain what the reader will get after hitting a call to action button.

What Color to Use

Words and size of call-to-action buttons are not the only factors letting you communicate with your audience. Colors into which CTAs are painted play a predefining role as well. There is no one specific color that will appeal to different audiences in a similar manner. When thinking about the color choice, remember about the people whom you target. Are those males or females? Do you target youngsters or adults? Based on the way you answer these question, you can decide upon the most appropriate colors for CTAs. For example, call-to-action buttons painted in warm colors (like red and orange) will be more appealing to women. Men, in their turn, give preference to cool colors, like green and blue.

 

call to action button

You shouldn’t forget about your business niche as well. If you work in the food-related industry, then combinations of red, yellow and greed colors will have an appetizing effect on your visitors. A general rule that you need to consider is making a CTA button contrasting to the content and backgrounds surrounding it.

 

call to action button

Call-to-Action Button Placement

This is one of the most important factors that one needs to consider. Is one button per page enough? Maybe you should put more than two CTAs on one page? What is the optimal placement of a call to action button on the page? Well, there is no one fit it all rule. In order to find the best and the most effective placement of the button on your site, you need to run A/B testing to find out what solution fits your project the best.

One of the most popular recommendations provided by online marketers is that you need to include at least 2 call-to-action buttons to the text of your offer – 1 in the beginning after the introduction, and another one in the end. Thus, you can welcome people to learn more about the things that you are talking about as they land on the page and motivate them for a purchase after they have looked though the entire publication.

When placing a button above or below the fold, you need to make it accessible to a person when they are ready to buy. Thus, you can choose from the following options:
Place CTAs in navigation.
CTAs in navigation
Put it at the bottom of the page for those people who will scroll the text to its end.
cta bottom

After ad copy for motivated users who will have a desire to buy after they read an advertisement. Here is a good example from TemplateMonster’s team.

cta copy
On any other page of your site, which is frequently visited by your audience (like reviews, privacy policy, features, about story, etc.).

Use the Power of Animation

What we are talking about at this point is a hover effect, which can change the button’s color on the mouse-over. By changing its physical appearance, the call-to-action buttons looks far more captivating. A changing color keeps the users alerted that it is ready to be used. From the physiological point of view, a blinking button plays with a user’s mind and motivates them for an action.

Conclusion

Wrapping it up, we should say that only A/B testing will show what color, size, texts or whatsoever work better on your site. A call to action button is an integral part of your online marketing campaign. It should correspond to your own corporate style and stand out from the rest of the content provided on the page. A CTA button is like a final step that leads people towards conversion after they have learned the necessary details about your product/service. The position of CTAs on your site should stand out with its clarity and visibility. Simple, short urgent phrases will keep the audience alerted and motivated for an action.

We hope that you find the aforementioned tips and examples useful, and they will help you attain the desired conversion boost on your website.

Good luck!

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Stop Losing Prospects With Disappearing Contact Form Submissions

Ever wondered why your conversion rates are so low even though you spend a good amount of time sharing your latest stories on social media and receiving a good amount of traffic?

While user experience and market fit are crucial for every business, a surprising reason for low conversions could be a misbehaving contact form on your website. Over the past 2 months we have worked with 3 successful businesses online with broken contact forms that prevented prospects from connecting with business development or support staff.

In each of the three cases incoming emails have been lost entirely, or over 50% of the submissions were not passing due to technical errors – such as JavaScript conflicts, AdBlock extensions, email server limits or upgrades that broke anything behind the scenes, hence preventing a successful contact with company’s reps.

I failed to contact the business through their form

The worst part is that, in many cases, customers would give up on getting in touch with you, and the problem may be lurking in your platform for months.

Here are 7 suggestions for preventing complete dependability on a flaky contact form and increase the conversion rates for your business.

1. Simplify Your Contact Form

Longer contact forms asking for too much personal data would send some of your prospects away. Keeping it simple would save everyone time, and reduce the gap between you and your potential clients.

In addition to the marketing aspect of the problem, longer contact forms present more opportunities for a contact form to stop working. For example:

  • a phone field would require validation that wouldn’t match a country code format;
  • a text field may accept HTML which isn’t validated properly behind the scenes;
  • numeric fields could strip values for customers who input text instead.

Validation labels may be invisible for some reason (such as disabled JavaScript or a styling glitch), and that’s yet another problem that you would have to worry about in a traditional setup.

A study by Unbounce reported 15% conversion rate on forms with 6+ fields, 20% with 3-5 fields, and 25% for contact forms with only 3 input fields.

Simplify your contact form and reduce the number of lost prospects on the way.

2. Use Gravity Forms

 

WordPress website owners who heavily rely on contact forms can benefit from using Gravity Forms.

Gravity Forms is a powerful plugin that allows for building complex forms, include conditional statement, integrate with membership platforms and payment gateways. But in addition to that your contact submissions are stored in the WordPress database as well – visible from a list in the administrative dashboard.

Even if your email server is down, not responding, hitting spam filters or anything along those lines, a submission would be processed and ready for review in your WordPress admin area.

As an added benefit, you can leverage the power of the plugin for other uses – such as receiving guest posts for your website (automatically published as drafts to your editors).

3. Stop AJAX Submissions

AJAX submissions are often used in contact forms as they provide a better customer experience – getting a form submitted without refreshing the entire page.

The problem is that AJAX may be interrupted in different cases, such as:

  • A minor JavaScript glitch in your site that interrupts other features
  • A PHP notice or warning that interrupts the successful callback and freezes the submission process
  • Clients using old unsupported browsers (such as corporate networks running Internet Explorer 7)
  • Intranets disabling JavaScript for non-whitelisted websites

Disabling AJAX submissions and sending users to a helpful “Thank You” page can solve some of those problems and increase the success rates of your contact form submissions.

4. Hide Warnings and Notices on Production

Some production websites allow error printing on the front-end even for third-party visitors. Those messages appear in the header or within the content area of your website in the event of a code warning or a communication error with the site.

This may not be obvious to you or your development team when the site appears to be working properly. Sadly, customers could still manage to interact with areas of your website in a “creative way” that triggers and displays errors on the site. And new notices or warnings can show up after updating a plugin or introducing a content change by editors.

That leads to poor customer experience, and is a potential security vector that hackers could use for learning more about your hosting provider and installation, coming up with effective strategies for breaking into your website.

Disabling debugging output on production sites is a must, and should improve the overall user experience. It will also ensure that contact form entries don’t get lost due to those code glitches getting in the way and interrupting the submission process, hence losing your emails on the way.

5. Live Chat

Integrating a live chat in your website is a good way to interact with your visitors in real time, and also let them report a problem easily before closing the browser window.

There are plenty of live chat services that provide a simple embed script (or an extension for various CMS) and pop up on your website given predefined conditions. You can enable the chat globally across your entire site, or only on pages where visitors are expected to get in touch with you (such as the Contact Us page or a Customer Service documentation).

6. Ticketing System

Who handles contact form entries for your business?

If your company employs more than 20 people, chances are that different inquiries are handled by different staff members within your company. Multinational businesses even have different branches and offices, with responsible people for each location.

One creative way to solve that problem is by integrating a ticketing system in a contact form’s disguise. There are plenty of Software as a Service help desks that could be integrated in your website, as well as outstanding plugins for WordPress website owners such as Awesome Support. Similarly to Gravity Forms mentioned above, a ticketing system will also store the contact form submission in a separate database which solves the “disappearing emails” aspect of the problem.

Additionally, a business assistant or a customer support agent of yours can easily reassign tickets to different team members. This can even be done automatically with some software solutions, with a conditional rule assigning a ticket to an agent depending on the selected department or product in your form.

7. IM channels and Social Media

During the third quarter of 2016, Facebook reported 1.79 billion monthly active users. Gen Y communicates primarily through instant messengers and social media, as the majority of college students applying for job expect a phone call instead of an email as they don’t actively use emails for business.

Twitter revolutionized the social interactions with businesses and influencers by providing a transparent and open channel for everyone to connect with corporations and individuals outside of their network, which also increased the importance of the Community Manager position for brands managing their conversations across various online channels.

Providing multiple contact alternatives for website visitors is more time consuming, but the easier it is for a prospect to communicate with you, the higher the possibility for them to become a regular client. Consider providing a phone number, Twitter account and Skype or WhatsApp accounts that visitors may use for contacting you. With the rise of the smartphone industry and low-cost plans with 3G and 4G, consumers often find it easy to communicate through online channels other than email for questions, support, or setting appointments.


Email isn’t going anywhere, but due to technical malfunctions and zealous spam filters, communication may be lost in-between. Make sure that you provide a bulletproof solution for your customers and contact alternatives in order to provide incredible customer experience and close more leads for your business.

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How will a Closed Internet And Net Neutrality Impact Web Design?

There are two things that enable the Internet to be a truly viable resource for businesses, hobbyists and everyone in between: open Internet access and net neutrality. Unfortunately, net neutrality has been in the crosshairs for many years. Additionally, President Donald J. Trump has spoken out several times in the past about his desire to close parts of the Internet. Not only would this dramatically change life as we all know it but it would also drive up prices and alter the web design industry.

What Does a Closed Internet Look Like?

Nations such as North Korea, Saudi Arabia and China have censored the Internet in a variety of ways. For example, the North Korean government controls every website that the country’s citizens can visit. Of course, only a few thousand of the 25 million residents are able to access the unbelievably dismal total of 28 sites that the government has deemed appropriate for public usage.   

China is another example of the dangers of allowing Internet censorship. The Chinese government filters searches, reroutes search terms to propaganda websites and erases all sites and information that don’t match up with their official version of events. In other words, if you’re in China and look up Tiananmen Square Massacre, you’re going to be rerouted to a site that offers a positive viewpoint of the Communist Party.

If all of this sounds uncomfortably similar to the concept of “alternative facts,” it’s time to pay closer attention to President Trump’s numerous comments on closing parts of the Internet. Although he has claimed that this would be done in an effort to block ISIS and other terrorist groups from recruiting via the Internet, he could just as easily flip the switch based on widespread dissent. The Communications Act of 1934 even appears to give Trump the authority to do so without any Congressional approval if he declares the U.S. to be in public peril or under the threat of war.   

As you can imagine, a closed Internet would drastically change the number and type of web design projects. Imagine for a moment that you were a web designer in North Korea. You’d have to be employed by the government to get any work at all, and with only 28 sites, there wouldn’t be room for a lot of designers.

This is the most drastic outlook, of course, and the U.S. reality of a closed Internet would probably be more akin to Saudi Arabia’s form of censorship that blocks 400,000 websites. Again, though, this would drastically reduce the need for web designers, and it would also make it necessary to create sites that are controversy free. Long gone would be the days of creative freedom, especially if you’re designing for a client who needs their website to stay up and uncensored. This would likely mean sticking to certain predetermined acceptable parameters for content and design.

What about Net Neutrality?

The U.S. Internet doesn’t need to be closed in order to render it less profitable for web designers and businesses. Net neutrality could be destroyed instead. There have been many battles fought over this concept already, and watchdogs are highly concerned with Trump’s selection of Ajit Pai for the role of Chief Communications Regulator.

Pai is a well-known critic of net neutrality, and he has already indicated that he plans to revisit FCC rules, including Internet regulations. If net neutrality is allowed to be destroyed, Internet providers may be able to openly and freely impose throttling, blocking and even discrimination. How would this impact website designers and the average Internet user? The costs are immeasurable at this point, but it’s clear that everything would become more expensive and cumbersome.

For example, website design and hosting companies such as SquareSpace and GoDaddy currently make the process of building and launching a website affordable for everyone. However, if net neutrality falls apart, small business owners, pop culture enthusiasts and other similar users may end up unable to retain a viable website presence. After all, how can a small business owner compete if traffic to their website is throttled because they or their customers cannot afford a larger high speed access fee?

Many Internet service providers have already been caught purposefully slowing down Internet access in certain cities and to high profile websites. In other words, the technology exists to basically extort business owners into paying more money if they want their site to load in a decent amount of time. When you consider the fact that 47 percent of consumers expect a website to fully load within 2 seconds, time quite literally becomes money. Surveys indicate that 40 percent of users leave sites that aren’t loaded within 3 seconds, and every second of delay causes a 7 percent reduction in conversions.  

The Bottom Line for Web Designers

In either scenario, creativity is going to be stifled, as will profits. It’s possible to put some nice unique touches on a site right now without going past the 2 to 3 seconds rule, but what happens if you’re designing for a small business and they already have a 2-second penalty imposed because they’re paying for a slower access speed? Anything beyond the most basic design elements will push them past the 3-second mark, and their profits will plummet.

As a result, more companies will fail and less businesses will need to hire a web designer. Additionally, discount hosting and design providers may no longer be able to turn a profit because so many small businesses and personal sites will become too expensive to maintain at a high enough speed.  

It’s a vicious cycle, and it’s poised to push the Internet into the hands of only the richest individuals and most successful companies. Web design would likely become a much more cut-throat industry with fewer openings, and frustrated consumers would seek out major sites that can afford to pay for faster access. It’s unclear at this time if a closed Internet or the death of net neutrality are truly on the horizon in the U.S., but all signs indicate that it’s time to become educated about what these things could mean for web designers and everyone else who relies on the Internet for the source of income.   

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11 Fullscreen Menus in Adobe Muse

Muse For You - BIG Menu Widget Update - Adobe Muse CC - Web Design Ledger

Add a Fullscreen Menu to your Adobe Muse Website. No Coding Skills Required.

 Muse For You - Adobe Muse CC Adobe Muse CC Logo

A big part of a website is the navigation menu. Well designed menus can make navigating a website easier and more interesting. One of the first things I look for when looking at a website is where the menu is located and how it functions. Since the inception of web development menus keep evolving and getting more creative. I personally love menus that animate from different directions when you click on the menu button, and menus that cover the entire screen.

One of my first widgets was the BIG Menu Widget. It consists of 11 fullscreen menus that cover the entire website when clicking on the menu button. I have recently updated it to allow for custom open and close buttons. You can also rotate the open and close button on hover. There is now the ability to close the menu when clicking on the links as well which is very useful on a one page scrolling website. In the video tutorial above I go over the new features and updates to the BIG Menu Widget.

Here are the steps to add the BIG Menu Widget:

1. Install the widget by double clicking on the .mulib file. The widget will then install into the Adobe Muse library panel. If you do not see the library panel go to Window > Library.

2. From the library panel you will be able to select from 11 different fullscreen menus. To find the BIG Menu widgets quickly type in “BGMNU” in the library panel search bar.

3. Drag and drop a menu onto your Adobe Muse website. At first you will just say a 50×50 box with an exclamation point. This is because an open button image has not been added.

4. Add a custom open button image in the “Open Menu” section. You can change the size of the open button as well as enable rotation on hover. Within the widget folder there are icons to help you get started if you do not have your own custom icons.

5. Add a custom close button in the “Close Menu” section. You can change the size of the close button as well as enable rotation on hover.

Muse For You - BIG Menu Widget Update - Adobe Muse CC - Web Design Ledger

6. In the “Menu Styling” section you can select the color for the menu overlay as well as style the text for the links.

7. To change the font for the menu select the widget and use the built-in Adobe Muse “Text” option in the upper toolbar. From here you can select any web font from the fonts menu.

8. Select the amount of menu items for the menu in the “Menu Items” section. Here you can also set the text for the menu items and the links. You can link to an anchor point, internal page, or external page. There is a “Linking – More Info” section for reference on how to link the menu items.

9. Go to File > Preview Page in Browser to see how the menu looks.

10. Done!

Muse For You - BIG Menu Widget Update - Adobe Muse CC - Web Design Ledger

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

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My Journey Of Learning Programming Through Flatiron School #8

My name is Mason Ellwood and I’m currently working on Flatiron School’s Online Full Stack Web Development Program. Each week, I’ll be writing about my experience, what I’m learning, and tips on learning to code.

In the simplest terms that I can think of. To me, programming workflow (if you look at it in a broad sense) is very similar to a game most of you have played once in your life.

I know it is probably not the same one you have played when you were a kid, but bare with me. So with this game, you have a beginning point. to. You have to navigate through the different options (or pipe placement) to reach the outcome you want, the purpose. With this you can can navigate to the same end point in a few different ways, but all reach the same conclusion. Or they will navigate away from the expected output to a defined end point, where you have to either start over, or travel to a different outcome. As a programmer you have to be able to envision all possible outcomes from a single start point and what conditions need to be met to retrieve the outcome you want to meet to proceed.

Conditionals are one of the foundations of programming. If “something” is met, then do “something” else, and travel through the possible outcomes to reach the user’s goal.

Ruby conditional’s control the flow of the program that you are building. This includes if, else, and elsif.

This workflow looks something like this:

  • If (condition to be met)
    • code to run if condition is met
  • else
    • code to run if condition is not met
  • end

 

You can also add an elsif statement, which creating more conditional statements that could possibly be met. You can add as many elsif statements as you would like.

The control flow structure is a language feature which disrupts the normal progression to the next statement and conditionally or unconditionally branches to another location in your source code. This is controlled through if, elsif, and else returning true or false.

So far with the school I feel I have made some real progress. The school has been very enjoyable so far and I am learning and grown as a programmer immensely. When I started, I thought this would be very similar to other web courses I have gone through, which I am very grateful that is not the case. The Flatiron School really pushes you to think, and allows the student to write many different options for an acceptable correct answer.

Each lesson is setup with its own test suite, that basically checks that the output of your methods are correct but leaves it up to you to figure out the best possible way to retrieve and display that value. I have a long way to go, but I am amazed by the progress I have made so far and really looking forward to the other sections I will be dealing with soon.

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How To Boost Your Freelance Web Design Career By Building a Network

Hey there freelance web designer – you’re leaving money on the table!

We all know about the struggles of starting a career in freelance web design. You’re probably not aware of the right places to look for work, you might be underselling your services – maybe even working for free to build up a nice portfolio. You still have to build confidence to start charging a decent rate. It’s tough, but we keep at it to be able to succeed when we’ve built a good name for ourselves.

Eventually you learn – you start making good contacts and the work starts rolling in. If you’ve worked hard enough and made enough good contacts, you might now start to struggle in a different (much more positive) way.

You start to struggle to fit all of the work you have in your day. And this is the point where you start leaving money on the table – you start to refuse work simply because you don’t have enough time to service all of your clients.

Yet – it doesn’t have to be this way – there’s a little trick we’re going to show you today which will boost your freelancing web design revenue. At the same time, done right, you can possibly starting working less hours rather than more.

The dangers of refusing freelance web design work

If you’re in a position that you are struggling to keep up with work coming your way – well done! You’ve done such a great sales and marketing job, that clients are clamouring to get just a little bit of your time.

It’s a fantastic position to be in. One that most of your peers envy.

You’re not only filling all your hours – you can actually start choosing who to work with or the jobs you take.

If there is a client or a job which you don’t want to work on, do a little magic with the numbers when writing your web design proposal. Double or triple your rate – that way, your client will either get discouraged by the price. If they’re not sufficiently discouraged you’re going to get a nice windfall from that client or piece of work.

You’re not refusing outright a job which you’d rather not be working on. You’re just earning more money from it.

You can actually start charging better rates overall should you want to. That will automatically shrink your client base, because the ones who might have initially been attracted to your (cheaper) prices would now start shirking away.

There is a problem with both these approaches though.

They work well as long as there is a bounty of work. If times get tough, you will have alienated quite a few of your clients. These clients would by then have moved on and you’re unlikely to win them back. The fact that you snubbed them when you had better clients or jobs will be a turn off to them, even if you actually ask them very very nicely.

Let’s face it, they’ll think, if you snubbed them once, you’ll do it again.

So what’s a better approach?

Don’t refuse them – outsource the work to your own network of web design freelancers.

Establish your own network of web design / development freelancers

Whilst building your own network of clients, there is another piece of networking you should be doing – establishing a network of freelancers which operate in the same or similar niches as you do.

If you’re a web designer, you should network with:

  • Other web designers for when you are overwhelmed with work
  • Web developers for when you need to customize stuff
  • Designers for all creative work
  • Photographers / video or other online content providers

You get the idea.

Same goes for any content writer or anybody working in a niche related to the web design niche. Network with freelancers doing web design so that you’ll be able to take all of the work which comes along.

That way, when and if a client comes for the full package, you can provide them with the all of the services they need.

Heck you can even actually pitch a whole package if you see that your client has that specific need.

Stop doing the work you hate – start working on the things you love.

We’re in the day and age of digital workers. Freelance web designers have the luxury of working from anywhere – infact quite a few of them do. More than that, you can outsource the work to countries where labour is cheaper.

That gives you the opportunity to markup the work of others. To have a bit of an analogy, in essence, you will be the Quality Assurance manager in a factory of “manual labourers”.

Or the architect at a construction site. You won’t be dumping the concrete. You will, on the other hand, be testing that the quality of the concrete is good enough for your (web)site.

Rather than being the manual labourer yourself, you define the requirements and make sure these requirements are rigorously met, on time and at the right budget.

You’re simply the project manager of the jobs you’re unable to do, whilst still doing the jobs you enjoy doing.

Use the 80-20 rule as your guiding principle.

If you are able to spend 80% of your time doing the work you love and the other 20% of your time, managing your network of freelancers, you’re going to easily double the amount of hours you could be charging for.

This will drastically boost your revenue potential.

If you do freelance web design and enjoy designing pages, but don’t really like doing coding, you’ll need to have a bunch of WordPress developers ready for hiring. You can then outsource the development work to these designers and you can keep working on work you love doing best.

How to create a network of cheaper freelancer web designers

The biggest challenge in all of this is to actually build a reliable network of web design related freelancers.

Let me tell you a bit of story.

We tend to get quite busy publishing content at DART Creations – so when we do to need development work, we typically outsource to our trusted developers.

Yet finding reliable WordPress developers was not a pleasant experience for us.

We tried hiring developers first on a few of the most popular freelancing websites out there. We set up a project and a budget and waited for the offers to start pouring in. They did of course – from all sorts of people, the ones with great reviews and exorbitant prices and the ones with fewer reviews and more decent prices.

We chose somebody who seemed to be a good balance between good reviews and prices.

Our first hiree turned out to completely “borrow” code from another plugin.

Our second hiree wasn’t very responsive – although we agreed a timeline, we had to remind, nag and eventually beg for the code to be submitted.

The quality of the resulting code left much to be desired.

They had asked for payment outside of escrow services and trying to recover any money after that mess required chargebacks on credit cards. In a few words – too much hassle.

(Lesson learnt: never make payments outside of an escrow service – even if it’s more expensive, you’re protected against poor work)

The tried and tested way to hire freelancers

1. Physical networking

Working online has it’s benefits. Yet, there is something about meeting a person face-to-face where you can make an instant judgement on whether that person is reliable or not.

Get in touch with your peers in real-life as much as possible and network. Go to web design, WordPress and development conferences – and always network as much as possible.

Don’t stick to a single group of people with whom you “make friends”. Meet as much as possible with different people, always with a lookout to acquiring new contacts.

Attend local developer meetups with the same thing in mind. Wherever there is a gathering of people who operate in your niche, go and make contacts.

2. Online networking

Whilst physical networking is great – you should still network online. Find online groups of peers. Whether your favourite online hangout is Facebook, Google+, reddit, or some forum, always keep networking online. The more groups / conversations you join, the larger the possibilities of networking.

Give back to the online communities you join.

That way when you do stuff to network, you’ll be known as “the one who helps often”.

3. Vet freelance web designers and developers before going all out

You should never assign somebody to important jobs unless you’ve already tested them out on smaller jobs.

Essentially, if you don’t know a person, you really can’t be sure about the quality of work they provide, their timeliness, their communication efficiency.

Reviews can guide you, but you’ll find that quite a few reviews might be skewed and not provide a true picture of the actual skill set of the person you are hiring.

You’ll need to slowly get to know the person you are hiring by giving them a small task. This task should not be crucial to the success of a project. It should be a piece of work which you can afford to trash and give to somebody else.

4. If you’re in a hurry – hire multiple freelancers for the same job

When you’re pressed for time with a tight deadline for a piece of work and don’t have the time to vet a new hiree, there is a tried and tested way to mitigate your risk.

Rather than hiring a single developer, you should hire multiple developers (or whatever the task you need to do is).

You’re going to pay a premium for this, but you should see this as an investment in future projects. It is also a better guarantee of a good result.

Probable scenario – one hiree does not deliver or deliver sub-par work (work is thrown away, hire is abandoned). Second hiree provides good quality work.

Best-case scenario – both hirees provide excellent quality work. You’ll still have to throw away one of the results, but you’ve found two excellent freelancers for your network which you’ll be able to use in future projects.

Worst-case scenario – both hirees deliver poor quality work. You’ll have to abandon both hirees and their work and in all likelihood you’re going to have to perform some contingency planning.

A way to mitigate the worst case scenario is give the hirees a due date which is a week or two before the project deadline. That allows you some leeway to find a replacement, although you’re going to have to pay through the nose this time to make sure the quality is top-notch and the project is delivered on time.

Make hay while the sun shines

As long as you’ve got work coming in, creating a network of freelancers working around your web design is an excellent way to boost your freelancing web design revenue. Given that they are freelancers, with no fixed commitment, you’re not risking much in reality.

It’s a win-win situation for you.

Stop leaving money on the table. You never know when the good times will dry up.

 

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Mozilla Unveils Appropriate Rebrand For Their Open Internet Goals

Mozilla has had a few different looks during its 18-year history, but none have ever been quite as appropriate, or quite as wonderfully geeky, as their newest rebranding efforts. As the creators of the only popular web browser that is completely not-for-profit, Mozilla has always had a different approach from competitors such as Google Chrome and Microsoft Edge. Now, Mozilla will be focusing even more intensely on some of these differences, including their commitment to an open and free online world.

The New Logo

Aside from everything else, Mozilla’s new logo is instantly eye-catching and will speak to those who are in the company’s target audience. The logo now says Moz://a, and it’s hard to believe that they’re the first well-known entity to utilize this easily recognizable reference to a web address. However, the average computer user can only perform the most basic tasks, so choosing to switch Mozilla to Moz://a is actually a very bold move that risks alienating a lot of people.

Of course, Mozilla knows their core audience, and they’re definitely no longer speaking directly to average or beginner users. In fact, their rebranding was partially crowdsourced, and hardcore users were given the opportunity to make their thoughts known about different logo options in August 2016.

Open Design Expansion

It would be easy to look merely at the aesthetic changes that Mozilla has undertaken, but that’s not the only thing that this rebrand seeks to accomplish. Asking others for their input on the logo design was unusual enough, and this definitely helps set Mozilla apart from other similar tech companies. To keep the open design concept alive and well, Mozilla is also making their new custom font, Zilla, free for everyone to use.

Fighting for an Open and Free Internet

Mozilla has a history of standing up for the rights of Internet users, and this rebranding is meant to reflect those values. Creative Team leader Tim Murray indicated on the company’s blog that Mozilla “want[s] to be known as the champions of a healthy Internet. An internet where all are free to explore and discover and create and innovate without barriers or limitations.” Murray went on to state, “today, we believe these principles matter more than ever.”    

This standpoint is what influenced the decision to use the “://” in the new Mozilla logo. After all, if they’re going to appoint themselves as spokespeople and guardians for the concept of an open and free global Internet, it makes perfect sense to use the language of the Internet within their designs.

With many challenges facing the open and free usage of the Internet, including politicians who have called for parts of it be shut down, Mozilla definitely has their work cut out for them. On the plus side, cultivating and expanding their member base of intermediate and advanced Internet users can give them the power of many voices banded together to fight for one shared cause. Will their rebrand be enough to help them reach such a lofty goal? Only time will tell, but Mozilla’s history has them well-positioned to make a positive difference.    

 

Bonus: Here the 19 Best and Worst Logo Redesigns of 2016

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