project management systems for web designers

A website put up by a business provides information about its products and services in a unique and engaging manner. By viewing this information and getting impressed with it, prospective customers and clients approach a business and buy its products or hire its services. Through a website, a business can reach up to a huge number of people around the globe and boost its sales and profitability in turn.
So websites are contributing towards success of businesses and that too in big way. To gain and profit more, more and more businesses are approaching web designers for the creation of their websites.
Websites are often developed as part of projects within a limited time frame and with limited allocation of budget and other resources. A written contractual obligation binds the business and its chosen web designer.
A web designer may be simultaneously working over a number of design projects for different clients. A website design development project starts with a client explaining his requirements to a designer. The designer notes them down and starts creating the design. Once he develops a design, he shows it to the client. The client after viewing it can tell if the design is perfect or if it needs to be corrected upon and can provide his ideas and suggestions for its refinement. The designer will rework on the design on the basis of client’s feedback. This process may get repeated multiple times till the design gets perfected and finally approved.
The geographical distances separating the designer and his clients make it impossible to have physical interaction between them. So feedback over designs cannot be arranged conveniently and fast enough which delays design development projects. Delaying of projects leads to added costs and even cause their failure. Also the designer’s reputation, profitability and marketability also gets affected due to delayed design creation and delivery.
Choosing emails for communication and collaboration over designs is not productive enough as an email sent by designer eliciting feedback from his client gets responded quite late by the client. And the delay can be as a long as to 5-6 hours to even a day or two. So it affects designer’s efficiency and delays review and approval of designs. Moreover emails do not support sharing and transfer of different file types and designs come in various file types. Emails also do not allow smooth transfer of large sized files and some design files are big sized. So emails cannot used for communication and collaboration over designs.
So web designers need an enterprising solution which enables fast design creation and can facilitate instant and accurate feedback over them.
An online project management system like ProofHub enables such improved communication and collaboration between a designer and his clients. It streamlines designers’ working and drastically improves their performance.
As a designer needs to take care of different clients’ assignments and remember their delivery dates, this tool enables sending timely email notifications to the designer, so he clearly remains aware of clients’ orders without forgetting or skipping them and can better focus on them and create them timely.
He or she can divide his time evenly between different assignments so that he might not overwork on some and underwork on others. Thus all assignments can be given adequate time and attention.
In some cases, a web designing firm consists of a number of designers and other related experts who are based in different locations working over common design projects, so they can instantly connect with each other and effortlessly communicate and collaborate with each other and achieve fast and quality results, so this tool improves their working quite significantly.
It reduces time spent over seeking client’s feedback and approval and aids in creation of client friendly and error free designs in minimum time. For inviting feedback from the client’s end through this tool, a designer adds his comments over a design in his browser and shares the design file with his client. The client will instantly view it in his browser and if not satisfied with it, can suggest changes or improvisations in textual form or by drawing shapes in it. By viewing the client’s suggestions, a designer can quickly rework on it and make it error free and then shares it for client’s approval which he readily approves. This reduces the number of steps involved over design’s refinement and approval and reduces time, costs and effort over it.
So this online proofing software tremendously improves efficiency of designers and helps them in timely development and delivery of accurate designs to the clients. Thus design projects get executed in an organized manner and accomplished timely with optimum utilization of budget and other resources.
It acts a perfect tool for review and proofing over different kinds of designs like brochures, website design, photographs, images, etc and enables their timely and quality creation.
It supports different file types like DOC, PDF besides others for sharing and transfer. It allows smooth sharing of big or small sized files. Multiple pages of a PDF file or one with a single page can be effectively proofed in one go. Multiple reviewers can review the same design at same time or differently. Different versions of a design can be readily accessed, compared and analyzed. So this proves to be immensely beneficial tool.
Designers, developers and other professionals employed with a web designing firm can perform their tasks in an organized, planned and sequenced manner which leads to timely accomplishment of design projects. Different tasks and duties can be better described, documented and assigned to respective team members. Timely email notifications are sent to them to apprise them of their approaching deadlines, so they can perform their tasks in a timely manner without forgetting them. This improves their productivity and makes them more accountable for their tasks. Any problems or issues affecting their work can be easily tracked and promptly and effectively resolved. So this task management software improves a design firm’s productivity and helps its team members to deliver timely and quality results with effective contribution from various team members.
This enterprising tool remarkably improves communication and collaboration among designers and clients which lead to timely development of client specific and accurate designs and graphics. Thus design projects get accomplished on time with due achievement of their objectives within the allocated budget and resources. The designers’ productivity and reputation also gets enhanced and they earn more appreciation and business from their satisfied clients. They are able to save costs and boost their revenue and profitability. So this results in a win-win situation for the both the designers and clients.

7 DOS AND DONTS OF MOBILE AAP MARKETING – INFOGRAPHIC

Marketing your mobile app shouldn’t be an after thought – it should begin as soon as the idea for the app is born. Marketing should be a primary factor in the planning and innovation of your app, not to mention the development and design.
The below infographic designed by Dot Com Infoway, can help you learn more about the problems and pitfalls that can affect the marketing of mobile apps. The angel and devil characters explain how you can be successful in the creation, implementation and execution of a marketing campaign for a mobile app.
With helpful advice like correctly optimising for the app store, creating a solid marketing plan, targeting the right users and pricing your app correctly, this infographic is full of useful advice for anyone looking to use marketing tactics to get their app in front of more users.

5 essential components for a successful ecommerce site

Most successful business owners will agree that creating a successful ecommerce site isn’t easy. Most people who fail make one big mistake: lack of planning. However, with proper planning, an ecommerce site can be successful. Below are some things that you need to plan into your website, to make it user-friendly and help boost sales.
Choosing the right ecommerce platform is important, as you must choose one that can adapt to the specific nature of your business. What you need is an ecommerce platform that enables you to scale the website as your business continues to grow. You should also avoid a platform that require custom development for functionalities, and instead opt for one that comes with functionality already built-in. This will not only save you time and money, but is likely to be more effective in the long run.
A product feed is basically a list of all your products that can be used to syndicate your products on someone else site. Over the last couple of years, product feeds have helped to generate million dollars in sale and are now a must for all ecommerce stores. The major benefit of the feed is that it provides the opportunity to significantly increase the reach of your site by promoting your product on partners’ sites and potentially attract numerous sales.
This is an essential component for an ecommerce site. The site should be capable of automatically creating a variety of sales rules for categories of products, such as altering the price of specific goods based on promotions such as buy one, get one free, etc. Likewise customer loyalty schemes, first-time buyer incentives as well as volume discounts should also be made available by the site. Ultimately, the ecommerce site should be linked to offline customer information systems for it to be able to track points and determine the eligibility of customers that are to be incorporated in the loyalty program.
Failure to complete the checkout process intuitively can mess up what would have otherwise been a successful sale. An integrated delivery tracking system will enable the site to communicate with other business systems. This will automatically eliminate duplication of effort and also reduce the risk of mistakes that occur due to human error. The site should be designed to make it easy to store data related to previous orders in order to make checkout faster.
The number of mobile users that prefer buying goods online has tremendously increased over the past few years. Therefore, it’s highly advisable for you to develop a mobile friendly version of your website so that you can give your mobile users an easy time while shopping.
The success of an ecommerce website lies in it being user-friendly, while also having enough information about products to make customers feel at ease. Provide customers with a convenient shopping experience, and they will keep coming back.

3 Step Process to Optimising your Website

Could it be because it’s viewed as being so complicated? Is it something that companies hope will just get taken care of by itself? Only to find out it doesn’t!
Anybody who has spent time either designing or building or owning a website will understand the agony that goes into it. Making sure colours, designs, pictures and words are just right. Yet it’s amazing that whilst people spend so long perfecting their site, they actually spend so little time optimising the site to make sure all their hard work is recognised and people can actually find their site. Making the site as fully optimised for search as it can be is as much of a priority as making sure it looks and sounds right. Otherwise you are in danger of letting all your hard work go to waste.
So we have devised a quick 3 step SEO Process. It’s by no means definitive and it should be recognised that making sure your site is fully optimised is actually quite complex and if you have a complicated ecommerce or large site then something best left to the experts. However this guide will certainly get you thinking the right way.
Keywords.
Everyone says this but what does it really mean. A keyword for your company and something that you talk about internally may NOT be a suitable external keyword. Is it something that people are really searching for? Think about it carefully. Use something like wordtracker.com to make sure you look into what are the keywords people search for.
Keep the keyword specific to your industry. For example – You may make specific cleaning equipment for an electronic assembly line. You cannot use the word Cleaners as you will be competing against the likes of detergents. Keep the keyword tight. PCB Cleaners would be better. It may sound simple but it’s amazing how many people miss this.
When you look at relevant keywords that people search on – don’t always go for the top one. Remember the competition will be significantly higher and you need to have a niche offering in order to compete. Work down the list. Sometimes middle ranking keywords are better. Also look for terms that are highly rated. These are good to include.
2. Optimise.
So you have established the keywords. Now what? Now, you need to undertake the laborious job of optimising the site. And you need to think and look at this carefully. URLs, Alt tags for photos, H1 and H2 tags, meta description, Links (external/internal)… etc… etc. The list goes on but it’s essential to get this right. Take your time doing each page. Or if it’s a large site – get someone else to do it for you.
Analyse.
Keywords are established; Site has been fully optimised; Now double check it. Programmes such as SEO Moz are a good way for you to double check that your pages are fully optimised. Once checked, the site should now be ready to go live. You can submit to directories (or have someone do it for you) and set up KPIs to ensure maximum investment of the site. You can use programmes such as Moz to analyse and monitor keywords and pages and continually track and analyse what is happening with the site.

How to Start a Small Web Design Business Fast?

Creating-a-Good-Website-DesignHave you always wanted to put your knowledge and passion in web designing to work? Did you ever consider using your talents and hobbies to earn you living? If yes, then maybe it’s about time to talk the talk and walk the walk. Strut your stuff on the cyber runway and get yourself a small web designing business running. With the right guidance, you can do this fast.

First, lay out the idea. You need materials, equipment, knowledge and passion; throw in a little confidence and a couple of proposals and there you’d have it. Along with that, list out your goals and objectives as it would psychologically push you to reach your aims.

Aside from that, put yourself out there through advertisements and word of mouth. As it is believed, nothing spreads faster than gossip, so let those around you know about your business and send out a couple of emails as well. This would help the fire spread and give your establishment a kick start.

Next, sort out all finances. Each and every business needs investments and finances so if you haven’t got all that you need, seek out financial aid by comparing banks loans and rates. Aside from that, check out your competitors as well. In all businesses, it’s a dog eat dog world out there, hence, it would never hurt to keep an eye on your competition and their progress. If things get friendly, pick up a lesson or two from them as well.

Furthermore, show yourself. There is nothing more important than letting people know you and your business exists. While laying out the ground work for your web design Melbourne business plan, also decide on how you would advertise then put aside some finances for this department as well. The most effective way would be newspaper ads and by placing an advertisement online as well.

In addition to that, make sure that you have got a self template that is complete and easy to understand. Clients, who come looking for you, should be able to flip through a profile and see all your work and knowledge. It would benefit you if you could have a letter of recommendation or acknowledgement from an employer or lecturer. This would help sing praises to your talents.

Now, you’ve got the plan, the finances, the enthusiasm, the burning passion. Ready, set, go? No. with everything ready and available, you need to remember that all businesses have got to be legal. Even though it is only a small business that is related to web development, it is still a business and needs to be certified as a true business instead of a scam or a hoax.

Choose a legal structure and get some advice from the company you place your trust in. Be sure that you read over all documents before signing them and get all your questions answered instead of having doubts arise.

Finally, open all doors. Make sure you’ve got payment methods running, enough confidence and a smile that is persuasive enough to bring your customers back. Also, to keep your little niche running; practice good etiquette and manners with your clients so that they refer your good work and charms to others.

10 Tips for selling web design

Closing the deal

One of the most difficult things to do when selling anything is educating the client. Disclaimer: I am not a sales expert, let’s get that straight now. I am however experienced at seeing the process happen. And that’s one of the only things I can claim – my experience. My experience has shown that most of the deals that have gone sour or disintegrated have been due to a client (or potential client) not understanding the reason behind what we’re doing.

Referring back to my recent post “Does your website work for you?” the single most difficult thing about that client was – trying to help him understand all the benefits of a website. It can be very difficult to do, especially with those that don’t embrace new technology. This can be intensely frustrating for a person that has seen those benefits first-hand.

Here are a list of a few things that help me to educate the client while selling a site:

1. Preparation – Before you even say a word make sure you are prepared walking into that meeting. Knowing the client’s business, industry, competition, and current situation can be invaluable. Because tayloring your pitch to fit their needs is key.

2. Be Creative – I don’t mean creative as in creative design, I mean show the potential client what a website can do in creative ways. Come up with interesting angles on how the website can benefit the business. For example, I was having a tough time closing the deal with a business owner until I mentioned how the database and website could help track and streamline a portion of his business. He had no clue a website could do that. He also wasn’t interested in w3c compliant code or top notch design, he was interested in the utility. Needless to say I closed the deal in short order. Now, not every business owner will be clueless to the benefits of a website. You have to be creative in the the way you present it. What’s your angle?

3. Attitude – I can’t tell you how many times this has been a detriment to me. You must be confident. Confidence can be sensed, but so can overconfidence. Be in the frame of mind that will allow you to speak with authority, but not above others.

4. Likability – This goes hand in hand with attitude. People are much more likely to work with or hire you when you are likable. Think of these characteristics: humble, honest, grateful, acknowledge and validate others, smile, and good listener. These things can go a long way when working with clients.

5. Respect – Sure, you wouldn’t tell a doctor how to operate on you, but the doctor doesn’t tell you what an idiot you are for needing the operation either. Yes, you are the authority on matters of the web, but that doesn’t mean you can’t listen earnestly to what the client has to say. Treat them with respect and more often than not that respect is reciprocated.

6. Listen – The client will usually tell you how to sell them if you let them speak. All too often we blab on and on about something and the client becomes disinterested. Don’t fall into that trap, allow them to speak and even give suggestions. Most clients just want to feel involved with the web design/development process.

7. Et tu brute? – Don’t get offended! It’s too petty. You may want to go in there and wow the client with your designs and abilities, but many times clients only care about cost/benefit issues. They may not want to hear what standards is or why this code is so efficient and that code is not. Don’t get offended if they don’t want to hear how good you are or don’t compliment your portfolio.

8. You not I – Talk about them, their business and their favorite things. Just let them know you’re genuinely interested in their business. You need to know what interests them and what motivates them. This also helps to establish trust and that likability factor we already talked about.

9. Unique Selling Point – Everybody wants to feel special, so, help them feel that way. If you can present a unique selling point, one that sets you apart from others, you’ll be much better off. Don’t over do it. Some people get turned off when they think you’re blowing smoke. With that said, find a unique selling point.

10. Bottom Line – It’s always about the bottom line for a business owner. Who cares about the cool design you did, who cares about that script you wrote. If it doesn’t make money, 9 times out of 10 it’s useless to them. You need to go knowing and understanding so you can explain the benefits for the service you offer. How will the website increase their bottom line.

Like I said, I’m not a sales genius by any stretch of the imagination, but these things have helped me to form good rapport with my potential clients. Good luck selling!

Web Design Theft

Couldn’t they have at least done a good job when they decided to steal our design? Is that too much to ask?

I used to enjoy browsing the websites of designers I admired, browsing their portfolios and learning what I could from others better than myself. I often draw inspiration from many different websites when starting my own design projects. Cameron Moll authored an article entitled, “Good Designers Copy, Great Designers Steal.” Well, he didn’t mean it like it sounds, but some people must have taken him literally – like this company.

I think we might be a little more flattered had they done something with the design. As they say, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. We kept trying to feel flattered, but the more we looked, poked, and prodded, the more we wanted to vomit. If you are going to steal a design you should steal it well, or at least try to improve upon it. Yet these creativity starved people could not do a single thing to improve upon the design.

I always wondered how it would feel to have someone copy us. Too bad it had to be these jokers. It is still flattering, but not near as flattering as it could have been. I always envisioned a high-class interpretation of the site, well thought out, and tightly executed… Oh well, better luck next time.

In spite of the terrible execution and blatant rip off the worst part is that they were too stupid to take out our Google Analytics code! Can you believe that? That is the only way I was able to find them &ndash they showed up in my statistics. Otherwise I don’t think I would have found them so soon.

So, if you are in the mood for some fun you could always drop them a line and harass them. It would be much appreciated. Until next time.

Should I Buy a Website Template?

We get a lot of enquiries from people who have bought a pre-made website template and require it customised for their own site.

There are some very valid and excellent reasons to buy a website template. For example:

• You have no idea how to come up with yet another design, or are just stumped.
• You have no time to create a website design from the ground up.
• You don’t have the necessary skills to come up with colors, layout, and feel for the subject.
• Your budget can’t handle the expense of a website designer for the project.

What a lot of people don’t realise is that even if a majority of the design work is already there, you still need to make changes to adapt the website template to your website. So you also need to know a little HTML, CSS, Flash, or whatever your chosen website template was created with and will need some changes.

Many website templates are designed to help the buyer do this in one central area. But even then you will still end up making changes that may not be available in the design. A new popular standard, CSS, can make this much easier if you are familiar with the methods. But not everyone is and if you are just starting out, CSS has a little bit of a learning curve.

Another one of the biggest factors may be one that you don’t realise. If you choose to buy a website template, you still should personalise it to fit both your subject matter and product or service. Not to mention the fact that you will need to try and distance your website from any that use that same website template.

Many templates are eye candy, have good visual appeal, and save time and money. But as we all know, there’s much more to a good website design. Layout, proper colors, attractive graphics are great. But you also need to address user experience, search engine optimisation, copywriting, and content.

Looking under the hood, there can be a few challenges to any website template. Visual designers often overlook some basics of SEO. Anchor text links are the best for any purpose in linking and are often missing in action on templates. Proper titles, and Meta tags need to be specific to every web page in the design.

Many new website templates come with Flash routines that may look snazzy but can load slowly and certainly don’t contribute to any search engine optimisation. If the subject warrants flashy graphics, by all means use them. But always make sure they don’t cause other problems.

Another issue I see with many website templates is they place large header graphics right at the top of a web page. The most important area of any web page is above the fold (that’s the area from the top of the page to the bottom of edge of most people’s monitor). That’s the area that any user sees first and you better have whatever attention getting copy (as a in headline normally) fully visible.

You usually only have about 4-6 seconds to grab the attention and demonstrate you have fulfilled the search term or phrase they used to find you. It’s imperative that you use whatever you can to confirm your subject matter and convince the visitor to read more. That also holds true for the search engine spiders that come and review your web page for indexing and ranking according to subject.

A good rule of thumb is to keep the header graphic no more than 100 to 125 pixels deep. So the top headline needs to reinforce your content and also keep the search engine spiders aware of your desired search terms or phrases is the first thing both the visitor and spiders see. Using those same keywords or phrases in the title and actual file name is also a good way to communicate to the search engine spiders your content.

So I guess the answer to “Should I buy a website template?” is yes if you meet the criteria mentioned above. But you should also make sure you do everything you can to adapt that website template to your content, desired search terms or phrases, and product or service.

Attractive designs and complementary colors are part of the user experience but don’t sacrifice search engine optimisation and solid content. You can save both time and money with a website template but don’t forget about the SEO basics and quality of content.

New Blog Design

And finally it’s here… After four months!

We would like to apologize for the long wait. It has been four long months and we are excited to finally transfer our blog from WordPress. WordPress was a great tool for us and served its purpose. We still believe that WordPress is a fabulous tool and is a great blog software. However, at this point we wanted a more complete integration of our site and blog.

Our site is now completely and seamlessly integrated into our blog. No more dual logins and separate databases. The migration was not that difficult, but definitely worth the hassle.

We realized after our site redesign in January that our blog would need to become an integrated part of our site. To that end, we were motivated to make that transition happen. So, in between jobs and other responsibilities we were able to complete it – albeit over a period of four months. Thanks again for your patience.

My brother’s friend can do it for…

These days there seems to be a gaping chasm between reality and desire when it comes to web design. I have found that more and more people are expecting premium custom design and programming at economy prices. Well, that just doesn’t happen, but there are many reasons why potential clients think it may be possible:

First, your brother’s friend really does do web design, but he’s only been doing it for a few months. Being undercut by the client’s brother’s friend is all too common. And what people fail to realize is that effective design requires a commensurate level of pay. When you’re starting a business it makes sense to do things as economically as possible, but what those ‘economical choices’ don’t take into account is that spending less on good web design will also make you less and could possibly even deter potential sales.

Second, “There are free website builders and I could do it myself and just pay for hosting.” Well, you could do that I guess, but again, good design = good pay. We can’t blame these online resources for taking potential customers. In fact, it could be said that we owe them for driving customers our way. After a miserable experience on their own, new clients tend to be more open minded and better educated.

Third, is my version of the phrase “pump and dump” design shops. There are many of these “pump and dump” shops out there that are troubling. What I mean by “pump and dump” is that they “pump” you full of great portfolio pieces and unbelievable pricing then “dump” a sad HTML/Table design with minimal CSS, sliced images and it’s completely static. AND, after getting screwed over, they nail you to a contract for hosting that is upwards of $40/month (based on a small brochure type site).

The third and final one is the one that bothers me the most. It’s not that these shops aren’t capable of providing a decent design (though there are many that can’t), it’s that they outsource much of their work and the communication process isn’t very good. Customers are stuck with a 1990’s design and code. Sure, they only paid $300 for their site and have a monthly hosting cost of $40 – $50, but they’re almost worse off now than when they didn’t have a website.

If you’re making an investment in yourself. It should be worth it to spend the money it takes to make that happen. If it’s not possible at first, reserve your domain name and wait until you have the money to do it right the first time. There’s always financing. If your project is important to you a website is a solid investment and financing can get you a good design. It will solidify your presence and legitimize your business. You won’t regret spending the money on a solid design.

In my experience, when I navigate to a website that is outdated, old, or just plain ugly – I will usually just leave within seconds of arriving. A good design will at least give you a fighting chance on keeping potential customers on your site. However, a good design isn’t synonymous with usability. Usability is not secondary to design and design is not secondary to usability. Design and usability should be inseparable, though sadly they’re not. It could be argued that a lot of this is subjective – well, it is subjective. It’s hard to be objective when your experience wants to burst out and shower down upon all the unsuspecting people below.

We could go on and on about this subject. In fact, if you haven’t yet visited Jakob Nielsen’s site then it’s a must. If you haven’t visited Cameron Moll’s blog Authentic Boredom then it’s a must. There are a list of many others that I could give, but there’s enough to chew on with those two for now.