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3 SEO tools to build for your clients in Google Data Studio

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Creating technical SEO auditing, keyword research, and link building tracking tools is easy with Google Data Studio. Learn how here.

With the wide variety of clients out there, you’re bound to run into the occasional DIY marketer. These marketers prefer that you teach them how to be self-sufficient rather than rely on you for every little question.

These clients can be a blessing but can also be dangerous. The challenging aspect of client management is finding the balance between empowering them to get the data they want without feeling like they don’t need you.

That’s where Google Data Studio tools come into play.

Data Studio is typically used for general reporting. The real beauty of Data Studio is that it can be used for so much more.

By creating tools for clients, you enable them to do the actual research it takes to accomplish SEO while still providing that much-needed maintenance and guidance that comes with experience.

This article illustrates free dashboard templates you can use with your clients.

How to change the branding

Before we dive into the specifics, you may want to update the branding and logo of your dashboard. This process could not be easier.

Right-click on your logo, and you will see a menu appear. Near the bottom, select “Extract theme from image.” You will then be presented with three different color scheme options. Select whichever one you feel best represents your brand.

This will automatically change most of the colors and get you most of the way to the finish line of designing in your Data Studio tool. However, there may still be a few charts or texts you’ll need to update.

1. Technical SEO auditing

Tracking technical SEO efforts can be difficult to visualize. Sure, you can track it in a spreadsheet, but that isn’t client-friendly. 

For years, SEOs have attempted to make dashboard trackers to help show improvements in site health over time. 

Luckily, our friends at Screaming Frog have finally cracked the case of the perfect technical SEO dashboard. The best part? The template is free. You can see it here.

How to copy the dashboard

To copy the dashboard:

  1. Click on the three dots in the top right
  2. Select make a copy
  3. Select your data source (don’t worry, you can update later)

How to set up the technical SEO tracker tool

Screaming Frog has published a helpful guide on setting up this Data Studio tool. What they will walk you through includes:

  • Setting up a scheduled crawl
  • Configuring the export to a Google Sheet
  • Connecting that Google Sheet to the Data Studio dashboard

2. Keyword research

The presentation of keyword research takes many forms. Most recognizable is the simple spreadsheet. Some people create keyword maps for each page or topic, while others with smaller clients have a short list of keywords.

However, Data Studio can be a powerful analysis tool for larger sites with tens of thousands or millions of keywords.

If you are working with millions of keywords, do not use Google Sheets like this example. I recommend using BigQuery to handle your keywords.

Step One: Setting up your source data

The first step involves importing your keyword research into a Google Sheet. To use the free template I created, you will need to include the following dimensions and metrics in your Google Sheet:

  • Keyword
  • Position
  • Previous position
  • Search Volume
  • Keyword Difficulty
  • CPC
  • URL
  • Keyword Intents

Step Two: Copy the dashboard

As we learned in the previous dashboard, you’ll want to make a copy of this dashboard and connect your data source, whether it be Google Sheets or BigQuery.

Important features of this Data Studio tool

This tool has many unique features that can be used to help drive your on-page SEO strategy. Depending on your strategy, these features can be customized to display different types of data and categories.

Boolean Buttons

The three buttons in this tool are based on custom boolean formulas, meaning they work on true/false statements. Let’s take a look at one of them.

We’re creating a function only to display long-tail queries that start with a question word in the formula above. This formula relies on regex, with two very important symbols:

  • The circumflex (^) is a regex function that essentially means, “if the keyword starts with this.” 
  • The pipe (|) symbol is another regex function that means “or.”

Using this formula, you can create any number of different kinds of checkboxes. I added a few keywords separated by pipes (|) to help display keywords in those categories for the SEO and PPC checkboxes.

The custom search box is a pretty simple but powerful feature of this tool. Not only can it quickly help you narrow down your search to identify keyword opportunities, but it can also use the power of regex to customize your search.

Intent dropdown

The keyword intent dropdown can help you filter by the intent of each keyword within the search funnel. Pretty simple, right?

Well, this filter can be easily swapped out by any dimension in Data Studio. So if you want to swap it out for other keyword categories, this can be the perfect filter for you. 

Funnel

This funnel helps visualize the true search funnel by intent. When applying other filters in this tool, the funnel and metrics above automatically update with the intents.

Link building is one of the tensest topics SEOs like to avoid with clients. Links are challenging to earn and often the hardest thing to control. 

The best way to earn trust with clients and stakeholders is through transparency. Instead of dodging the data around link building, hand over the keys and let them explore the data for themselves.

This is one of the more straightforward Data Studio tools we can create. You can pair any number of dimensions and metrics to help illustrate your point. 

The supporting Google Sheet I’m using is a simple backlinks analytics report from SEMrush. However, you can use your own link-building tracker to feed the report. Just make sure you add the acquisition date for the date range.

Conclusion

Data Studio is one of the fastest reporting tools to stand up while still having some seriously robust features. The fact that it’s also free makes it an easy platform of choice.

But that begs the question, why go through all that trouble for clients and other stakeholders?

These tools help create a better sense of transparency, which can help improve trust. Thus, creating a better partnership between you and your stakeholders. 

One of the most challenging parts of SEO isn’t the work itself but the communication of value. So from now on, think of new creative ways to demonstrate value to your clients, even if it’s just making a simple tool in Data Studio.

If you are interested in original article by John McAlpin, you can find it here

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Why advertising will never die

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Advertising’s not dead, it’s not dying and no one’s going to kill it any time soon. It’s never been more alive, so instead of taking aim, let’s be dead proud of it.

People constantly declare that advertising’s dead. Fast Company recently claimed David Droga wants to kill it. Elon Musk said Tesla doesn’t do it. Jeff Bezos said only unremarkable brands need it.

Why do so many people do advertising down, even from within the industry? It’s a thriving global business that’s never made a bigger global economic impact.

The idea that advertising’s dead or dying is bizarrely persistent, given it can be countered with just three words: Alphabet, Meta, Amazon. Their combined revenue from advertising was around $240bn in 2021.

If Netflix also joins the party, and with Apple also having a fast-growing ad business, the FAANG flush will be complete (substituting the F of Facebook and G of Google for their respective owners). For the first time ever, a handful of the world’s very largest, most powerful companies are, or at least include, significant advertising businesses.

So, if your metric is commercial success, advertising has never been more alive. Which means anyone claiming advertising’s dead, dying or needs to be killed is firing blanks.

Why the idea’s so persistent

The ‘advertising is dead’ trope actually appeals to a pretty broad church, which probably goes some way to explaining its longevity.

Many are nostalgics with a rose-tinted view of the past, lamenting a perceived decline in the creative quality and emotional impact of the industry’s output. They tend to be creative agency veterans disappointed with the changes they’ve seen in the industry since the 90s. For them, the current commercial success of the industry has come at too high a cost to the industry’s creative soul. They perceive their industry as having been under attack from outside forces and having been changed beyond all recognition. Far from being evidence of its vitality, for them, the three corporations mentioned above are partly to blame for its demise.

But the ‘advertising is dead’ line is probably more commonly deployed by people hyping up the dawn of a new era and new technologies. What unites both groups, whether they’re mourning advertising’s loss or dancing on its grave, is a belief that technology is responsible.

Much of it is really just lazy headline writing. The standard headline in the genre is actually ‘Advertising as we know it is dead’ or the classic QTWTAIN (question to which the answer is no) ‘Is advertising dead?’. Often what these articles actually go on to say is ‘TV advertising has a smaller share than it used to and other advertising channels like X are growing’. So it’s often just clickbait from people who are signalling they’re modern, innovative and disruptive…with some newer, shinier kind of advertising to sell you.

You could argue it’s just a harmless sales trick. But it’s a sales trick that’s been repeated so frequently that the word ‘advertising’ has collected a ton of baggage. Baggage that’s shaped perceptions that it’s old-fashioned, on its way out, wasteful, inefficient and ineffective. So not harmless at all.

The new platforms had new forms of advertising to sell. New types of agencies and consultancies emerged to help brands take advantage. Existing agencies wanted to show they were keeping up without looking out of date. Individuals had careers to protect and couldn’t risk looking like dinosaurs. We’ve all in some way been complicit in depositioning our core product. I know I’ve been guilty of it.

The people with new kinds of advertising to sell created an imaginary world called ‘traditional’ advertising. An old-fashioned and inefficient method of producing and distributing advertising, made by old-fashioned ‘legacy’ companies, used by old-fashioned brands, bought by old-fashioned marketing people.

We all bought into a related narrative about a golden age of advertising in the 20th century, led by the glamorous, cool, creative geniuses of the ‘Madmen’ era, and the idea that this has now been replaced in the 21st by the left-brained, data-driven types of the ‘Mathmen’ era. Leaving aside the stereotyping, the problematic terminology and that any talk of a golden age in any field should always be treated with scepticism, it’s a compelling narrative with a kernel of truth, but it’s ultimately a false dichotomy. Has the proportion of ‘creative’ people in our industry really shrunk? Possibly. But have we all gone from being Madmen to Mathmen? Of course not.

Social media was initially framed as a way to help brands reduce their dependence on costly and wasteful advertising, by allowing brands to tap into communities of followers and reach more people for free. This essentially anti-advertising stance of course had to evolve as the platforms developed their ad products and adapted their algorithms. Social media became less ‘social’ and more ‘media’.

With ‘Don’t make ads. Make TikToks’, TikTok is playing a similar game – using a disruptive anti-advertising stance to advertise its ad products to ad agencies and advertisers.

TikTok’s ad campaign aimed at brand marketers

From this alone you can see how tainted the word ‘advertising’ and all its derivations have become. It would seem bizarre to anyone outside the industry, but even using the word advertising can sometimes feel like it sends out the wrong signals. We so often substitute it for alternatives like comms, campaigns, film, video, content, copy and of course the now ubiquitous asset. Anything but ‘ad’. Maybe we need to try to use that simple, useful, truthful little word a little more often?

Musk and Bezos on advertising

So far I’ve mostly been describing the collateral damage the industry has managed to inflict on itself from the inside. But just as damaging is how similar themes have been picked up beyond adland.

In the world of tech startups, word of mouth and virality are so highly prized that a reliance on advertising for growth has come to be seen as a weakness, a sign that a company hasn’t quite got the X factor, a tax on a poor product. In this environment, proclaiming you’re fundamentally opposed to advertising has become a way to promote your genius and the brilliance of your product to investors. A way of saying “we’re so smart that our innovation will earn us an outsized share of attention in the marketplace – we don’t need to do something as dumb as paying for ads”.

Debates about whether Tesla does actually pay for advertising or not usually come down to how you define ‘paying for advertising’, whether very narrowly (eg paying for TV spots or search ads), or very broadly (paying tens of millions of dollars to fire a product into space, place it in front of the camera and livestream the results to the entire planet).

If you define it broadly, as something like ‘the monetisation of attention’, Musk, already the world’s richest person and perhaps its greatest showman, is ironically a far more archetypal ad person than his CEO counterparts Jeff Bezos, Mark Zuckerberg, Sunder Pichai and Tim Cook – all in the ad business but not exactly ad people. Only time will tell if he can continue to support his position on paid advertising as Tesla’s strong grip on the EV market slips.

Whether Musk pays for advertising may be arguable, but Bezos’s U-turn is unarguably one of the greatest stories we have for the continued value and vitality of advertising:

  1. Bezos makes a famous and influential denunciation of advertising.
  2. He learns the value of advertising from Amazon’s own data and changes his mind.
  3. Amazon becomes one of the largest (and best) global advertisers.
  4. Amazon builds one of the world’s largest ad businesses.

Musk and Bezos are outliers. And yet, many brands continue to take inspiration from them by making overt rejections of advertising, often as a way to get attention and proclaim their genius in their early days. Similar claims from brands including Monzo and Brewdog were both later reversed when they grew and advertising was needed to help take growth to the next level. In fact it seems like there’s an immutable law of modern marketing that every vociferous rejection of advertising is later met with an equal and opposite endorsement of it.

Musk may not ‘pay’ for ad space, but he certainly has a deep understanding of one of its most valuable potential outcomes, fame. Many advertisers understand advertising but very few really understand fame. And unless you’ve got the same nose for fame as Musk, paying for attention is likely what you’re going to need to do to achieve it.

So it’s not just social media that’s guilty of deploying a kind of ‘bait and switch’ – claiming to be anti-advertising but then reversing their position when they need to make the commercials work – it’s a pattern that’s constantly being repeated by platforms, agencies and advertisers as they mature.

Let’s not do advertising down, let’s stand up for it and celebrate it

The ‘advertising is dead’ myth is especially bizarre because advertising has never been more alive. We have never had a wider, more varied array of options and opportunities available to us. But as an industry we often seem a bit embarrassed, even ashamed of what we do.

How the advertising industry uses the power of human imagination for commercial impact should be something we’re all in awe of. We’ve created commercially viable processes to harness human creativity, craft and design skills. We’ve developed the technology to distribute the output across billions of screens. When done right, our product can attract and keep people’s attention, entertain and move people, communicate powerful ideas, create indelible memories, and influence consumer behaviour both now and in the future.

Paid advertising in its huge variety of forms continues to provide a consistent, regular, controllable way of getting a company’s core message in front of new audiences that no other marketing communication can match.

Companies have many options open to them to help reduce costs and do things more efficiently, but few growth levers. Advertising is one and it’s proven. In fact there’s arguably no more researched, picked-over and proven discipline amongst all the different kinds of commercial activity most companies do.

The excellent work of Grace Kite and others in building the ARC database, a meta-analysis of hundreds of real-world case studies from companies of all sizes, categories and using all channels, shows advertising today returns an average £3.80 revenue for every £1 spent. IPA Effectiveness award winners return more, £13 revenue for every £1 spent, but they’re outliers, the very best of the best.

Advertising’s naysayers invariably have ulterior commercial motives for undermining perceptions of what it can do. It’s rare that they’re making any significant or serious point that’s in any way testable or backed up by data as robust as this.

Global advertising spend in 2021 was around $689bn and is forecast to reach $850bn by the end of 2024. Deloitte’s calculation of the overall economic contribution of advertising suggests that every $1 spent on ads generates $6 in broader economic impact. Which means advertising’s economic impact could be around $4tn annually. Roughly equivalent to the GDP of Japan or Germany. The role we play in driving the economy, and therefore society, forward is something we should be proud of. We often highlight advertising’s societal impact when talking about social purpose, but advertising’s economic impact alone should be a sufficient source of pride.

That $689bn would have been spent on trillions of ad impressions. Never have more ads been served to more people, more often. It probably doesn’t help advertising’s ‘brand image’ that they’ve also never been shorter, viewed on smaller screens, and attended to for shorter amounts of time. The shop window for our wares has definitely got smaller, less distinctive and less enticing (although with Netflix potentially joining the party, this direction of travel could be about to change). But that’s a technical issue that our ingenuity and creativity as an industry will overcome.

Could advertising be ‘better’ today? Of course. But everything can always be better. Are there big problems that need to be fixed in today’s advertising ecosystem? Of course. But are advertising’s problems existential? Of course not.

Advertising will be with us forever

When you take a much broader historical view of advertising, it reveals that – despite the peaks and troughs, the new channels emerging and existing ones evolving – advertising as a percentage of GDP always tends to stay remarkably constant over time. For decades ad spend has hovered around 1% of GDP in the US. Its growth mirrors the growth in the economy. It’s basically a historical constant. Wherever there are eyeballs, there will be advertising.

If you are interested in original article by Tom Roach, you can find it here

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10 Professional-Level Web Design Tools to Get the Ideal Website

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A good website design is the one that sells itself!

How do you ensure a website is good? Well, in this fast-paced business industry, viewers hardly spend even a few seconds on a website. If they find it valuable, they will put in the effort to go through the website.

However, if they lose interest, they will choose to close the tab right off and might not even consider coming back to your website.

Within a glance, a viewer should be able to grasp what it is that you do and how your business can add value to their lives. After all, your website is in a way your portfolio, isn’t it?. So, you need to make sure to build it the right way.

Fortunately, there are many UX design tools available today that do not even require coding skills to design a website. You can simply build a website through the drag and drop features of the tools and make your website ready in just a few hours.

A visually appealing website that clearly shows how it could add value to a viewer makes for a good website. It will retain a viewer for a longer time period and hence improve the website engagement. Achieving this is possible through design tools available today.

In this article, you will know about ten web design tools that will help you build the website that you desire.

10 Web design tools to build an ideal website

Before choosing a UX tool, you should know whether you want your website to sell products or you want to redirect users to other websites. What features do you wish to have on your website to what is your budget? Once you know what you want, you can choose any of the below-mentioned tools to build the website.

1. Maze

Source

How would a website work smoothly without running in-depth tests? Building it is the first step. However, you also need a tool that allows designers to run tests and validate ideas. This tool provides you with that.

Below are a few features that help designers at each stage of the designing process:

  • Huge testing range is valuable to designers at any stage of the design process
  • You can get deep user insights through usability tests by open-ended questions
  • Gives tangible results from A/B tests, misclick rates, page heatmaps, and so on
  • Offers integrations with third-party design or wireframing tools
  • These features help designers gain clarity and give them the right direction early on in the process.

2. Adobe XD

This tool focuses on creating product prototypes, websites and mobile applications. Its other features include:

  • Lets you create fully-fledged prototypes including animated transitions, workflows, and so on
  • You can integrate other Adobe tools easily
  • Works on Windows and macOS

You can avail yourself of a free plan starting with $9.99/month for single documents.

3. Figma

Source

This is a web-based application that has libraries and shareable prototyping features. This tool shares the plugins with the Sketch tool so you can build an additional functionality if you want, or you can often find that functionality.

Some other features of this tool are:

  • You don’t have to worry about losing anything since the tool keeps auto-saving the changes
  • Multiple team members can view the design
  • You can get client feedback through the comments feature

You can take the free plan that is valid for up to three projects and then choose a plan that scales up to $12-$45.

4. Sketch

If you are looking for a tool with huge libraries of plugins and integrations, interactive layouts and shareable prototypes, then this is the tool for you! In the design world, this is a digital design toolkit since it offers all the features.

Below are some of the extra features of Sketch:

  • Allows user experience designers to collaborate and share workspaces
  • Smooth integration with other tools and plugins
  • Super easy to use for beginners

The software started with providing basic UX features, however, it is now one of the most widely used tools among designers. The only drawback of this tool is that it is only available on macOS. So the ones with Linux and Windows will not benefit from it.

The tool offers a one-month free trial. You can avail of it for $99 and keep renewing your license every year for receiving updates.

5. Invision

This is a tool that can take a designer from outlining the user journey to finally developing the design. A designer can collaborate, and create wireframes and prototypes–this makes the tool extremely versatile and useful. Some important features of the tool are

  • Lets you create interactive prototypes
  • Invision studio offers features like a vector-drawing tool, build-in animation and other interactive designs

Fortunately, this tool is available on macOS and Windows.

You can avail of a free plan for up to three documents and choose a pricing plan starting with $7.95 per user/month if it suits you.

6. Wix

It is a user-friendly website designing software, especially for total beginners. The tool has over 800 templates to choose from which makes it easy for a beginner to start. Wix has other features like:

It has a Wix Artificial Design Intelligence (ADI) which will auto-design your website depending on your responses

You can drag and drop and make customizations

The tool offers a free plan. If you want to go for paid plans, they start at $4.50/month.

7. Adobe Dreamweaver

It is a coding engine that allows a real-time preview of the content and of the edits you make to the code. You can either start your next big project using one of their templates or build it from scratch. With code hints, you can easily build all types of HTML assets including blogs, eCommerce sites, portfolios, etc.

The features of Adobe Dreamweaver are:

  • It is easy to set up
  • Has Git support to simplify coding
  • Dynamic display on each device
  • Modern UI making it easier to create and manage a website

You can start with a 30-day free trial to see if this tool works for you. The tool offers plans starting from $20.99 per month to $52.99 per month. The prices may vary for teachers, students and businesses.

8. Webflow

This is again an all-in-one responsive web design tool. It has web hosting, a CMS (Content Management System) and a free SSL certificate, everything in a single platform. You can use pre-built elements like tabs, videos for background or sliders to build an interactive website.

  • You can build animations
  • The tool has a library of core layouts, patterns and components
  • You can prototype and even export code to other developers

This tool has a free plan which scales up to $12 per month on an annual basis.

9. GIMP

GIMP (GNU Image Manipulation Program) is an open-source and free tool used for image editing. You can create icons, graphical design and several types of art for the user interface. It can be used by graphic designers, scientists, and so on.

The tool is mostly used for:

  • Image retouching and editing
  • Free-form drawing
  • Converting between different image formats

Moreover, it has top-notch color management features that will enable you to produce high-quality color reproduction.

Thankfully, the tool supports Mac, Linux, Windows, Sun Open Solaris and FreeBSD.

10. WordPress

This is one of the most used tools by freelance writers and solopreneurs. If you want to build a portfolio or a website that sells products, WordPress plugins and themes make it all easy.

Below listed are some benefits of using the WordPress tool:

  • Provides free hosting support and themes
  • With a premium plan, you can get access to premium themes
  • Offers customer support through email or live chat
  • Gives storage space from 3 GB to 200 GB depending on the plan

Since this tool allows you to build a website for free, for better plugins, you can then choose a pricing plan that suits your budget and requirements.

Wrapping up

Well, before starting your hunt for an ideal web design tool to build your website, you should be clear about what it is that you want in your website. You can write down things including how many sections you want in a webpage, where you want a photo gallery, Social media features, and so on.

From layouts to sections, have everything penned down so that your vision of the website actually meets the reality when it gets built. Having a blueprint of the website will also help you fish out the UX tool that easily gets you there.

If you are still unsure of what you want in your website, then reflect upon your business’s core values and also check your competitors’ websites. You can observe how they have built their websites and take inspiration from them.

If you are interested in original article by Partia Pandya, you can find it here

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5 WEB DESIGN RESOURCES THAT WILL INSPIRE YOUR WEBSITE

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The appearance of a website plays an important role in any business whether it is big or small.

The website of your business interacts with the prospects on your behalf. That is the reason why people judge the credibility of your business by its design. While designing your website, keep in mind that your website should be well equipped to cater to a good user experience. A good layout, images, and typography matter more than we usually think.

A study by Stanford found that people quickly evaluate a site by visual design alone. In short, the design of your website:

  • Sets a good first impression
  • Builds credibility
  • Projects authority
  • Proves legitimacy
  • Highlights your expertise

Building a website from scratch can be a daunting task. When you fall short of ideas, take inspiration from others. Make them your muse. When you look at the work of others, you gain a new perception of looking at things that might have been missing in your own work. Also, this way you keep pace with the latest trends. 

In this article, you will find places to look for the best website designs in the world. There is a massive amount of resources available on the internet to get inspired from. But it can be overwhelming. So without any delay check out a concise list of the top five best website designs to seek inspiration for your ideas. 

1. Awwwards.com

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Awwwards
 showcases the website designs by freelancers, agencies, and studios. It has many filters to narrow down your search to your specific needs. Awwwards has assembled a proper jury of web experts to award the best and deserving works on the basis of their design, usability, creativity, content, and mobile friendliness. The submitted works are awarded scores and the ‘site of the day’ makes it to the home page. This makes it easy to find the best examples of website design on Awwwards. They have also categorized websites as the most awarded profiles. You can even check out the works of their nominees. 

2. Dribble

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Dribble is home to the best website design professionals. Here you will find many website designs for your inspiration. By the way, dribble is not limited to website designs. It has a large resource of designs from print, product designs, and typography along with web design. The best thing about dribble is that it doesn’t allow everybody to post their work on their website. Only a selected number of people who receive an invite can showcase their work. So check out dribble for quality assured inspiration.

3. Abduzeedo

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Abduzeedo is a community of individual writers who regularly share their ideas related to photography, design, and UX. It is your one-stop destination for daily tutorials of design and UX. Abduzeedo educates about all the design-related topics, may it be architecture or photography. This increases the horizon of your inspiration and you get to know the latest trends being followed in the realm of web design. 

4. Behance

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Behance is a large and diverse community of designers who are highly active in making their contributions to the world of design. You will get immensely inspired by the diverse range of designs available on the Behance discover page. Not only this but there are so many filters at work to make your search highly specific. As Behance is a part of Adobe, you can choose websites designed from various Adobe tools. There are so many options in the creative fields to choose from. Behance has unique website designs to fuel your inspiration.

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5. Siteinspire

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Siteinspire has a heavy collection of websites to choose from. If you have a clear idea in your head about how you want your website to look, the multiple tagging at Siteinspire will help you find the closest idea. It is best for searching for specific industry-related ideas. 

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Siteinspire has multiple categories to refine the style search. If you are confused and looking for a miscellaneous idea, then categories like ‘unusual layout’, ‘unusual navigation’ can offer you some random ideas to increase the scope of inspiration. 

Conclusion

You can also seek inspiration from Pinterest and Instagram web design pages. All of us have come across this quote- “your limitation, it’s only your imagination”. So there should be no limit to your imagination. Your website is the most important selling tool, so be patient with your website design to bring in higher ROI.

If you are interested in original article by Anuja Lath, you can find it here

https://theconversation.com/digital-inequality-why-can-i-enter-your-building-but-your-website-shows-me-the-door-182432

Digital inequality: why can I enter your building – but your website shows me the door?

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When people hear the term “accessibility” in the context of disability, most will see images of ramps, automatic doors, elevators, or tactile paving (textured ground which helps vision impaired people navigate public spaces). These are physical examples of inclusive practice that most people understand.

You may even use these features yourself, for convenience, as you go about your day. However, such efforts to create an inclusive physical world aren’t being translated into designing the digital world.

A large wheelchair sign is visible to the left of a wheelchair ramp.
New buildings are required to comply with a range of physical access requirements, which may include tactile paving (seen in yellow).

Accessibility fails

Digital accessibility refers to the way people with a lived experience of disability interact with the cyber world.

One example comes from an author of this article, Scott, who is legally blind. Scott is unable to purchase football tickets online because the ticketing website uses an image-based “CAPTCHA” test. It’s a seemingly simple task, but fraught with challenges when considering accessibility issues.

Despite Scott having an IT-related PhD, and two decades of digital accessibility experience in academic and commercial arenas, it falls on his teenage son to complete the online ticket purchase.

Screen readers, high-contrast colour schemes and text magnifiers are all assistive technology tools that enable legally blind users to interact with websites. Unfortunately, they are useless if a website has not been designed with an inclusive approach.

The other author of this article, Justin, uses a wheelchair for mobility and can’t even purchase wheelchair seating tickets over the web. He has to phone a special access number to do so.

Both of these are examples of digital accessibility fails. And they’re more common than most people realise.

We can clearly do better

The term “disability” covers a spectrum of physical and cognitive conditions. It can can range from short-term conditions to lifelong ones.

“Digital accessibility” applies to a broad range of users with varying abilities.

At last count, nearly one in five Australians (17.7%) lived with some form of disability. This figure increases significantly when you consider the physical and cognitive impacts of ageing.

At the same time, Australians are becoming increasingly reliant on digital services. According to a 2022 survey by consulting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers, 45% of respondents in New South Wales and Victoria increased their use of digital channels during the COVID-19 pandemic.

In contrast, research undertaken by Infosys in December 2021 found only 3% of leading companies in Australia and New Zealand had effective digital accessibility processes.

But have we improved?

Areas that have shown accessibility improvement include social media platforms such as YouTube, Facebook and Instagram, food ordering services such as Uber Eats, and media platforms such as the ABC News app.

Challenges still persist in online banking, travel booking sites, shopping sites and educational websites and content.

Data from the United States indicates lawsuits relating to accessibility are on the rise, with outcomes including financial penalties and requirements for business owners to remedy the accessibility of their website/s.

In Australia, however, it’s often hard to obtain exact figures for the scale of accessibility complaints lodged with site owners. This 1997 article from the Australian Human Right Commission suggests the conversation hasn’t shifted much in 25 years.

A rendered illustration of a disabled man in a wheelchair and woman with a hearing aid lifting weights.
It’s a human right to have fair and equal access to the web and all its services. Shutterstock

There are solutions at hand

There’s a clear solution to the digital divide. The World Wide Web Consortium’s Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) standard has been widely adopted across the globe. It’s universally available, and is a requirement for all Australian public-facing government websites.

It guides website and app developers on how to use web languages (such as HTML and CSS) in ways that enable end users who rely on assistive technologies. There are no specialist technologies or techniques required to make websites or apps accessible. All that’s needed is an adherence to good practice.

Unfortunately, WCAG is rarely treated as an enforceable standard. All too often, adherence to WCAG requirements in Australia is reduced to a box-ticking exercise.

Our academic work and experience liaising with a range of vendors has revealed that even where specific accessibility requirements are stated, many vendors will tick “yes” regardless of their knowledge of accessibility principles, or their ability to deliver against the standards.

In cases where vendors do genuinely work towards WCAG compliance, they often rely on automated testing (via online tools), rather than human testing. As a result, genuine accessibility and usability issues can go unreported. While the coding of each element of a website might be WCAG compliant, the sum of all the parts may not be.

In 2016, the Australian government adopted standard EN 301549 (a direct implementation of an existing European standard). It’s aimed at preventing inaccessible products (hardware, software, websites and services) entering the government’s digital ecosystem. Yet the new standard seems to have achieved little. Few, if any, references to it appear in academic literature or the public web.

It seems to have met a similar fate to the government’s National Transition Strategy for digital accessibility, which quietly disappeared in 2015.

The carrot, not the stick

Accessibility advocates take different approaches to advancing the accessibility agenda with reticent organisations. Some instil the fear of legal action, often citing the Maguire v SOCOG case, where the 2000 Olympic website was found to be inaccessible.

In a more recent example, the Manage v Coles settlement saw Coles agree to make improvements to their website’s accessibility after being sued by a legally blind woman.

Screenshot of the top of Coles's 'accessibility' section on the company's website, with a red Coles logo on the top-left.

After getting sued by a legally blind customer in 2014, Coles made improvements to its website’s accessibility features. Screenshot/Coles

In the Coles case, the stick became the carrot; Coles went on to win a national website accessibility award after the original complainant nominated them following their remediation efforts.

But while the financial impact of being sued might spur an organisation into action, it’s more likely to commit to genuine effort if this will generate a positive return on investment.

Accessible by default

We can attest to the common misconception that disability implies a need for help and support. Most people living with disability are seeking to live independently and with self-determination.

To break the cycle of financial and social dependence frequently associated with the equity space, governments, corporations and educational institutions need to become accessible by default.

The technologies and policies are all in place, ready to go. What is needed is leadership from government and non-government sectors to define digital accessibility as a right, and not a privilege.

If you are interested in original article by Jo Adetunji, you can find it here

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How to Use Social Media to Influence and Inspire Your Web Design Projects

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In this day and age, many of us spend our lives swiping and scrolling through our socials. And, in addition to being a constant source of information and entertainment, Instagram, Pinterest, TikTok and other social media sites can also provide an endless stream of inspiration.

Read on to find out how social media can positively influence the web design choices of marketers, designers, brands and businesses.

Social Media as a Source of Inspiration

From photo-editing tools and filters to stickers and meme-generators, today, anyone armed with a smartphone can add striking visual elements to their posts. But social media can also provide a rich source of creative inspiration for even the most experienced web designer.

Remember, the things that are gaining likes, shares and interactions today are likely to trickle down into the web design trends of tomorrow, so now’s the time to start thinking about what you can learn from social media and how to incorporate it into your design thinking.

6 Web Design Ideas Inspired by Social Media

Read on to find out how social media can influence your web design project by:

  1. Adding authenticity
  2. Grabbing attention
  3. Boosting imagery
  4. Inviting interaction
  5. Embracing mobile
  6. Elevating UGC

1. Adding Authenticity

How to Use Social Media to Influence and Inspire Your Web Design Projects

Thanks to social media, we’re used to getting a glimpse into the lives of everyday people, and this kind of behind-the-scenes access is pushing the desire for more authenticity in web design. Think of ‘meet the team’ pages that profile employees and literally give brands such as Etsy a human face. Meanwhile, hovering the pointer over Atlassian’s page reveals graphical elements that communicate each person’s job function, and at UK-based gin distillery Sipsmith, professional-looking headshots give way to a lighthearted snapshot – establishing that the brand is all about business meets pleasure, if you will.

This quest for ‘realness’ has also inspired many brands to move away from stock images and posed shots and towards authentic photographs that are instantly recognisable and relatable. This can do wonders for establishing a brand’s credibility, and demonstrate that they understand their customers, the issues that are important to them and the things that make them tick.

Additionally, many fashion and beauty brands are now populating their product pages with user-generated content. Like beachwear label Andie, which invites customers to share images of themselves ‘modeling’ their purchases along with their measurements so online shoppers can get a more accurate idea of how each swimsuit fits – whatever their height, size or body shape.

2. Grabbing Attention 

Everyday, the online world serves up more content than we could ever realistically consume in a lifetime, and so we’ve got into the habit of speed-reading and rapidly scanning sites for the information we require. Take inspiration from social media and use attention-grabbing visual elements to fight the battle against information overload. For example, the cute stickers that accompany news stories published by The Outline quickly convey the essence of each story, while the icons featured on Parade tell customers about the properties of each garment (for example, an ice lolly indicates cool touch ultra-light fabric) and the brand’s commitment to social and environmental issues.

6 Web Design Ideas Inspired by Social Media

Similarly, gifs and memes stand out on social media, so why shouldn’t web designers bring them into their projects? A picture paints a thousand words and, when done well, these static and moving images can quickly communicate key messages, tap into a current mood and instantly draw readers’ eyes to the most important parts of each page. Like Glossier’s simple but addictively watchable product gifs. Meanwhile, flavored sparkling water brand Recess takes an irreverent approach by turning its canned drinks into memes – like Peach Ginger, which pays tribute to Tiger King with the addition of a mullet and a moustache.

3. Boosting Imagery

We can also see Instagram’s love affair with filters playing out on brand websites – like perfume company Abel, where each fragrance is conveyed by a distinct color palette. Bottles of Pink Iris perfume feature crushed raspberries and rose petals, while accompanying lifestyle imagery has been edited to bring out delicate blush tones that combine to create a consistent aesthetic. As a result, the brand offers a valuable lesson in applying specific identities and emotions to individual pages, products or website elements.

Adidas
source Addidas

Talking of visuals, think of the editing tools available on Instagram Stories that allow users to add captions, drawings and backgrounds to their photos in order to achieve a curated, collage effect – something we can see in Adidas’ player images, which features scribbles and silhouettes for a hand-drawn look and feel.

4. Inviting Interaction

Inviting Interaction

Source: Bleach

Double-tapping to like, swiping up to shop, moving an emoji on a sliding scale to show interest – social media platforms invite communication and conversation. And websites are no different. Online forms, surveys and other interactive elements not only enable brands to collect valuable data about their customer’s likes and dislikes, they can also help point people towards the products and services they need – adding that extra element of personalisation that’s so sought after nowadays. Like the ‘questionnhaire’ that appears on the Bleach site, which poses a series of multiple-choice image-led questions to unite users with their ideal hair dye.

5. Mobile Optimization

Mobile-first is one of the most important web design rules. And, of course, social media offers a masterclass in content that’s easy to consume on-the-go. With less and less people browsing websites on their personal computers and laptops, web designers have spent the past few years optimizing for mobile and coming up with responsive pages in a bid to provide the best possible user experience.

Whether you’re planning to overhaul your website or make a few tweaks and changes to support speedy consumption, take a look at We Transfer’s editorial platform We Present. Thanks to the site’s modular build, text and images are given equal importance, with paragraphs and pull quotes interspersed by videos and images that entice the audience to keep on reading.

Mobile Optimization
Source: WePresent

6. Elevating UGC

Elevating UGC

Source: Made

We know people love sharing on social media, and user-generated content (UGC) increasingly pops up on web pages via handles and hashtags. Like homeware retailer Made, which heroes customers’ Instagram posts throughout their site under the call-to-action ‘less than humble about your abode? Mention @madedotcom in your photos and we’ll feature the best pics’. Luggage company Horizn also keys into its customers’ wanderlust with the invitation to ‘show us how smart you travel by sharing your most inspiring snapshots. Use the hashtag #LetsGoFurther for your chance to be featured’. Suddenly, the websites become a part of these brands’ community-building efforts.

And while we’ve seen widgets and plugins being used to streamline the transition from site to social media for years, web design inspiration can also be found in the symbols and signals that people have grown accustomed to seeing on Twitter and Facebook. For example, we find Cult Beauty highlighting its ‘trending’ skincare and make-up items, as well as adding a tick against products whose claims have been verified by a third-party. In addition, Evolution of Smooth has integrated a hashtag into its web design, dedicating a whole landing page to products under the #eosflavorlab banner.

Extra Tip: Use Social to Gather Web Design Insights

Source: Evolution of Smooth

Extra Tip: Use Social to Gather Web Design Insights 

As well as being inspired by social media, you can use platforms like Pinterest and Instagram – or creative networks like Behance – to inform your next web design project. Pose questions, conduct a poll and ask followers to vote for their favorite image or landing page design – you’ll soon get a sense of what people do and don’t like.

In Conclusion

As social media continues to grow and dominate the digital space, we have no doubt it will continue to influence the evolution of web design. To learn more about web design, social media, graphic design, marketing, and more, don’t forget to check out the Envato Blog.

If you are interested in original article by Helen Alexander, you can find it here

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