8 Writing Tips I Wish I Knew Before I Started Blogging

I wrote my first blog post two summers ago. And I wish I could erase it from the internet. Reading it is like looking at my middle school Facebook pictures — it’s almost too cringe-inducing.

Maybe I shouldn’t be so hard on myself, though. I had just finished my freshman year of college, and the last paper I wrote was about the Odyssey. I didn’t know what I was doing.

But after completing several content marketing internships and taking classes like business writing, electronic journalism, and creative writing, I’ve learned how to write for an audience. Blogging is almost second nature to me now.

If you’re just starting out with blogging and struggling to produce something you’re truly proud of, don’t get discouraged. You don’t need to enroll in a bunch of writing classes or join a content marketing team to become a good blogger (although it certainly doesn’t hurt). You can hone your writing skills online — and this blog post can be one of your bookmarkable resources.

Listed below are eight essential writing tips I’ve gleaned from all my classes and content marketing experience. Check them out to learn how to engage your audience with clear, concise, and compelling content — and make me even more embarrassed about the first blog post I ever wrote.

8 Essential Writing Tips for Crafting Clear, Concise, and Compelling Content

1) Trim the fat.

The more unnecessary words your trim from your writing, the easier it is to understand. Concise writing is lean. And readers can zip through it with little effort. To sharpen your writing, follow the four pointers below:

  • Avoid linking verb phrases like “Sam was writing about his van.” “Sam wrote about his van.” sounds more forceful. Linking verbs have a passive effect, which is why they can’t pack much of a punch.
  • Change prepositional phrases like “The decision of the board was final.” to “The board’s decision was final.” Prepositional phrases make sentences longer and harder to follow.
  • When a noun ends in -tion, change the noun to a verb. For example, “They will collaborate to create a new style guide.” sounds cleaner than “They will collaborate in the creation of a new style guide.”
  • Reduce verb phrases like “The results are suggestive to the fact that on-page SEO still works.” to simple verb phrases like “The results suggest that on-page SEO still works.” The latter sounds much smoother.

2) One sentence should only cover one idea.

A clear sentence that’s easy to understand covers one main idea. But sometimes writers focus too much on sounding smart rather than conveying information in a simple way. This can lead to complex sentences that confuse readers.

You must remember your readers don’t care about your writing prowess. They want to quickly understand the solutions to their own problems, and simple sentences can fulfill that need.

Use the Hemingway App to gauge whether your sentences are bold and clear.

3) Sentences don’t live in isolation.

If you want to craft a compelling sentence, you need to account for its surrounding sentences first. Using the same word in consecutive sentences or covering similar ideas in two different sentences is redundant. To create a more stimulating experience for your readers, vary your language and cut repeat information.

Use Power Thesaurus to replace overused words with dynamic synonyms.

4) Vary sentence length and structure.

I saw a graphic called “How to Write” on Twitter about a year ago, and it took my writing skills to the next level. Take a look.

How to Write.jpg

Humans crave variety. And just like how short, medium, and long sentences complement each other, simple and compound sentences complement each other too.

Your writing becomes repetitive and boring when your sentences have the same structure or length. Diverse sentences make your writing pleasant to read.

5) Scrap the cliches.

Would it be cliche to begin this paragraph with a cliche? I thought so. That’s why I didn’t do it. Cliches sap your content’s originality.

People use these phrases so much that they lose their true meaning. Some studies even claim that figures of speech like “hungry as a horse” or buzzwords like “leverage” can’t activate the prefrontal cortex, which is responsible for experiencing emotions. They’re too stale to impact you.

A good way to test cliches is by asking yourself if you’ve heard the term before. If so, aim to express your idea in a new, fresh way. You can also nix cliches by filtering your content through a cliche finder tool.

6) Appeal to the senses.

Good fiction writers can make their readers experience the stories they write. By using concrete details that appeal to their reader’s senses, they can paint vivid pictures with only words.

Skeptical? Well, in a 2012 study at Emory University, researchers monitored participants’ brain activity when they read metaphors involving texture. Metaphors like “He had leathery hands,” lit up their sensory cortex, which is responsible for perceiving texture through touch. When they read a similar phrase like “he had strong hands,” their sensory cortex didn’t activate.

“Leathery” is a concrete detail that appeals to touch. And it places readers into the exact scene the writer described. Metaphors and similes also help people visualize things by comparing a concrete picture with an abstract idea.

Business writing definitely differs from creative writing, but you can still harness the power of sensory language in your blog posts. If your readers can see, hear, touch, smell, or taste your ideas, then they’ll be hooked on your content.

Having trouble grasping this concept? Here are some examples:

  • Visual: “You immediately glue your eyes to the skip button’s countdown clock and wait … until those lingering seconds finally slug by.” – Can you see how long this ad is?
  • Auditory: “But the 20 pen slips below were so hilarious and shocking that my laughter pierced through all my colleagues’ noise-canceling headphones.” – Can you hear his obnoxious laugh?
  • Touch: “Let your well-formatted paragraphs put her attention in a guillotine hold.” – Can you feel how captivated she is?”
  • Smell and taste: “Turn bland writing into zesty sound bites.” – How strong was that quip’s flavor?

7) Let things go.

When you write an elegant paragraph or sentence, your inner author latches onto it. But even if it doesn’t fit within the scope of your content, you still might try to force it in there. You can get too attached to let it go.

Paragraphs or sentences that don’t deepen your readers’ understanding of the topic, provide new information, or spark interest in the next section are just fluff. And all fluff does is muddle your writing.

Instead of building around fluff, strip it away and start something new from scratch. Abandoning beautiful writing is always hard, but if it doesn’t provide value to your readers, let it go.

8) Take a break.

Have you ever reread your final draft so much that you can’t determine whether it’s Neil Patel good or high school essay bad? You can even convince yourself that a lousy draft looks great if you’ve worked on it for long enough.

Before you submit your final draft, it’s crucial to walk away from it. Forgetting about your work will help you develop fresh editing eyes that can discover overlooked errors and new creative opportunities.

Eddie Shleyner, copywriter and content marketer at Workforce Software, follows “The Rule of 12” when he edits his blog posts. After writing his final draft, he walks away for 12 hours. Then he makes his final round of edits, where he always finds a mistake or a better way to polish his copy.

What writing tips do you find useful? Let us know on Twitter!

free guide to writing well

SearchCap: Google lite app, Bing dynamic search ads & Pinterest zoom

Below is what happened in search today, as reported on Search Engine Land and from other places across the web.

From Search Engine Land:

Recent Headlines From Marketing Land, Our Sister Site Dedicated To Internet Marketing:

Search News From Around The Web:

Industry

Local & Maps

Link Building

Searching

SEO

SEM / Paid Search

Search Marketing

The post SearchCap: Google lite app, Bing dynamic search ads & Pinterest zoom appeared first on Search Engine Land.

10 UX Influencers To Follow Now

User experience has been around since Don Norman coined the term back in 1995. It may only be 20 something years ago, but user experience (UX) has become a vital component in digital product design and development. From Snapchat’s app to complex ERP systems, you can bet that all the products you use regularly have been built with the user experience in mind. And if they haven’t, you probably don’t use them.

It’s no surprise, given UX’s astronomical rise as a discipline, that there’s a ton of information out there about it. But how do you know where to look, and which sources are worth your time and attention? I recommend taking tips from the UX experts out there.

Whether you’re looking for inspiration on usable mobile UI design, user research and its application, or UX design trend tips, these 10 user experience experts should be the first stop on your journey to awesome UX.

Katie Dill

As Director of Experience Design at Airbnb, Katie Dill is at the vanguard of user experience. Katie and her UX team spend their days create engaging experiences for some 60 million users worldwide.

Which means that Katie has some stellar knowledge to share on building user journeys, conducting user research and prototyping interfaces.

Follow Katie on Twitter, or watch out for her at tons of UX conferences and events throughout the year.

Jeff Veen

Jeff Veen is one of the heavyweights of product design and UX. The California native got his stripes as part of the founding team at Wired, before birthing Adaptive Path, one of the first UX consultancies.

He’s also the guy behind Google Analytics. In his current role of Design Partner at True Ventures, Jeff mentors an impressive portfolio of companies, from Medium to WordPress.

If you can’t catch one of Jeff’s presentations at UX and product events, you can listen to his podcast or follow him on Twitter.

Eric Reiss

On my Justinmind UX team, we’re are all big fans of Eric Reiss. The UX influencer has been working in UX since before the discipline officially existed.

From writing adventure games and penning some of the earliest books on information architecture, to his current role as CEO of UX agency FatDUX, there are few areas of UX that Eric doesn’t have experience of.

He brings a humorous, invigorating perspective to the discipline, and is worth while checking out on Twitter or in person.

Jared Spool

Everyone working in UX knows Jared Spool. He’s been at the coalface of usability since 1978, mainly as the Principal of User Interface Engineering, a web and mobile usability consultancy that just happens to be the biggest user research organization worldwide.

Jared keynotes and chairs at the annual User Interface Conference, and blogs on usability/UX. Alternatively, his Twitter feed is full of updates, tips and stories from the frontline of usability.

Jen Romano Bergstrom

Jen Romano Bergstrom is UX Researcher at Facebook and Instagram, and as such as a hotline to the biggest user-base in the world. Eye tracking is her special sauce: her latest book, Eye Tracking for User Experience Design, (co-authored with Andrew Schall) goes deep into how eye tracking can help us understand and construct user experiences.

When she’s not researching users or writing books, Jen blogs and tweets about user research and usability.

Khoi Vinh

Khoi Vinh is one of the most fun UX bloggers out there right now – just ask his 345,000+ Twitter followers if you don’t believe us. A former Design Director at the New York Times and then at Etsy, Khoi is now Principal Designer at Adobe.

He also wrote ‘Ordering Disorder: Grid Principles for Web Design’ and was tipped as one of the “fifty most influential designers in America,” according to Fast Company.

Khoi’s blog Subtraction covers design, tech and related culture – you can dig deep into posts on fantasy UIs, web fonts, the challenges of voice UIs and more. Everything comes with Khoi’s tongue-in-cheek spin on it, making it a great read for those dull office moments.

Willy Lai

He’s done UX in Apple, Intuit, Samsung, PayPal and eBay, so it’s safe to say that Willy Lai has some serious Silicon Valley credentials.

Currently sharing his user experience knowledge through workshops, conferences, and career coaching, as well as mentoring at Stanford, Willy is an oracle on UX design and aligning UX with business goals.

Check out his Eventbrite schedule and catch him if you can; if not, he tweets.

Cory Lebson

As the author of The UX Careers Handbook, Cory Lebson is the go-to-guy for anyone who wants to define their career path in the rapidly changing UX scene.

The book covers everything from UX study to career roadmaps and becoming a thought leader. But you don’t have to buy a copy straight off – Cory’s blog also contains great advice and musings on UX, user research and usability.

Ethan Marcotte

Head of responsive design? Ethan Marcotte is the guy who coined the term that went on to become one of the biggest web design trends of the last decade. He literally wrote the book on RWD.

He blogs infrequently, but his Twitter feed is a firestorm of web rants, expert insights and UX gold-dust.

Don Norman

We left the Grandaddy of UX til last. Don Norman is the man behind the term ‘user experience,’ the UX sensei for all those into user experience and usability. He’s the Norman behind the Nielsen Norman Group, and has opined on UX everywhere from Harvard to Seoul. Keep up with his frequent video presentations via his website.

The post 10 UX Influencers To Follow Now appeared first on Speckyboy Design Magazine.

What Is IconShock? (& Get a Free Icon Set!)

IconShock has provided a great collection of unique virtual and augmented reality icons. Perfect for use in projects that relate to this new and growing industry, so we’re excited to bring you this exclusive, free icon set for you to download today, courtesy of their design team.

Join us as we take a look at some of our favourite icon sets from their collection, and grab your exclusive download of a virtual and augmented reality icon pack!

What is IconShock?

IconShock is a library of over two million professional icons, collected into four hundred icon sets, in many different sizes and styles. There are a few great, unique features which set IconShock apart as a high-tier place to find your next icon set:

Easily Edit Everything

IconShock’s new platform is built to allow for quick and easy editing of several visual aspects of the icons, such as adjusting their sizes and colours, and styles before downloading. This is a really powerful way to put the design of these icons in your own hands (both multi-coloured icons, and monochrome options).

You can either choose from a set of pre-suggested colours, or specify a hex code, to instantly have the icon fit in with the design of your project.

Multiple Sizes and Options

All icons are offered in several standard sizes, as well as custom sizes via vector and SVG files. The simpler glyph-style icons are provided in pixel-perfect grid size choices, customised to look crisp at both large and small sizes.

Their more detailed, photo-realistic style icon sets are designed to be displayed at larger sizes, but do have versions for small sizes as well. You’re spoiled for choice!

A few unique styles to explore are:

Our Favourite Picks

We’ve hand-picked a few other icon sets from IconShock that we particularly liked, to give you a feel for what to expect in their collection.

Flat Icons

Flat icons are still going strong, and IconShock’s collection is one of the best ones out there, featuring a complete series of vector icons with clean illustrations, that combine a soft beautiful palette with geometric shapes. There is a variation, Iconshock’s own brainchild dubbed Isometric Icons, which merge Flat design with with a 3D-like perspective, achieving a great visual effect.

Glyph Icons

Glyph is a collection of minimal, outlined icons. Simple and geometric, these are built in a non standard size of 38px for greater web and app display compatibility. There is a twin collection under Glyph Color Icons to work with on web and app development

iOS Line Icons

A great collection of icons made in the style of iOS 7 and higher icons, this neatly done bundle of Line Icons merges geometric simplicity with concept accuracy under Apple’s outlined icon style, and features several variations, such as Color Line Icons, that work with them as selected or active/inactive state.

Material Icons

Following Google’s Material Design guidelines and concepts, these are the icons we all know, juiced up with Material’s own color palette. As usual, these also have a variation to work with known as Material Black Icons, these two collections have great synergy with eachother.

Pricing

You have a few options when it comes to pricing, depending on what type of access you need:

  1. Individual Icon Sets: You can buy specific icon sets as a one-off, from $19
  2. Yearly Subscription: Access everything for one year, for an annual price of $79
  3. Lifetime License: Access everything, forever, for $99

Many of us find ourselves needing regular access to icons in our work, so one of the full, “access everything” packages is certainly a great deal considering the size of the library you’ll be able to use on your projects.

Get Your Free Icon Set

So here it is! We bring you this exclusive freebie, an icon set for you to download courtesy of IconShock! It’s a great collection of unique virtual and augmented reality icons. Perfect for use in projects that relate to this new and growing industry.

How to Get Your Business Seen with Online Content

BE SEEN WITH ONLINE CONTENT

In a recent interview on the Thriving Launch podcast, I addressed themes that will be familiar to you if you’re a regular reader of this blog…how to get seen with your online content.

I talked about how to grow your following through adding value to your content and how having value and being clear on your message helps leverage your online presence.

I also explain how online content can be repurposed and republished to different platforms, which results in attracting more people to your business.

The interview with hosts Luis Congdon and Kamala Chambers is short and sweet, about 14 minutes.

I remember being interviewed about republishing and repurposing content back in 2008 or 2009. My message remains the same, though many of the tools have changed and evolved.

You can be organized and efficient with your content development by putting the tools to use for you in a smart way that includes some automation. 

3 Ways to Use Automation for Repurposing

For example, if you repurpose your blog posts to Medium, you can install the Medium WordPress plugin to auto-save a draft of your blog post to your account. That saves you time. No copy and pasting. Simply log into your account, review the draft, add your bio and call to action, choose the appropriate tags and publish. It takes 5-10 minutes max.

Use Lumen5 (free at the time of this post’s publication) to create a video trailer to promote your blog post.  Read my tutorial here.

Use Canva’s Magic Resize feature to quickly create a suite of images for promoting your blog post on all the social platforms.

‘Consistency is a foundational piece to attracting a following.’ ~ Denise WakemanClick To Tweet

But first, before you begin, so you avoid sporadic, random repurposing, create a checklist so you are consistent with your efforts. Here’s a sample checklist I created for going live on Facebook.

Create a checklist for consistency

Checkli.com is a simple tool for making checklists.

If you prefer reading to listening, the full transcript of the interview, along with key takeaways is here. Be sure to share your thoughts about repurposing and visibility in the comments!

Recommended Reading

Repurposing Your Content – 13 Ways to Reach More People

How to Quickly Repurpose Your Facebook Live Videos

The post How to Get Your Business Seen with Online Content appeared first on Digital Marketing Strategy for Entrepreneurs | Denise Wakeman.

How to Find Out What Keywords Are Relevant to Your Business

How to Find Out What Keywords Are Relevant to Your Business

Keyword research is everything for the average business. This article describes how to go about it.

The right keywords can bring the right people to your business—and by investing your time in keywords research, you can identify popular search terms your customers are using and learn more about what goes on in their mind. Try putting yourself in their shoes and you’re one step closer to finding terms that can get you ranked in search engines.

If you’re still in the first stages of figuring out how to get discovered in search results, this article will help you as it outlines the top ways to find relevant keywords to your business. You can then implement these keywords into your website and campaigns to attract the right kind of visitors and leads.

1. Brainstorm first

Start first by writing down the list of terms and phrases that your target customers are most likely to use.

Continue reading "How to Find Out What Keywords Are Relevant to Your Business" at Maximize Social Business by clicking here.

9 Testimonial Page Examples You’ll Want to Copy in 2017

When potential customers are researching you online, they’re getting to know you by way of the content of your website. Understandably, many of them might be skeptical or hesitant to trust you right away.

To prove the value of what you have to offer, why not let your happy customers do the talking?

Your testimonial page serves as a platform to show off how others have benefited from your product or service, making it a powerful tool for establishing trust and encouraging potential buyers to take action. Plus, having a testimonial page serves as yet another indexed page on your website containing content covering product features, pain points, and keywords you’re trying to rank for.

Read on for a closer look at what makes a great testimonial.

What Is a Testimonial?

First, let’s have a little vocabulary lesson. Google’s dictionary definition of testimonial is “a formal statement testifying to someone’s character and qualifications.” In the realm of marketing, that usually comes from clients, colleagues, or peers who have benefitted from or experienced success as a result of the work you did for them.

But effective testimonials go beyond a simple quote that proclaims your greatness. They need to resonate with your targeted audience, and the people who could also potentially benefit from the work you do in the future. That’s why great testimonials also tell a story — one that inspires and motivates the people reading it.

What does that look like in practice? Check out the examples below to find your own inspiration, to help you start building a great testimonial page today.

9 Examples of Awesome Testimonial Pages

1) Codecademy

Codecademy has nailed down the testimonials section of their website, which they call “Codecademy Stories.” They’ve even included a few customer quotes (along with pictures, names, and locations) right on their homepage above a link to the testimonial page.

We love the approachable format and the fact that they chose to feature customers that users can really relate to. When you click into any story, you can read the whole case study in a Q&A format. 

2) BlueBeam

Many companies struggle to grab people’s attention using their testimonial pages, but BlueBeam does a great job of catching your eye as soon as you arrive on the page. While it’s technically called a Case Studies page, the first thing you see is a set of project examples in the form of large, bold images that rotate on a carousel. Scroll down and you can also click on video case studies, as well as view customer panels.

3) ChowNow

ChowNow does a lot right on its testimonial page, but the bread and butter is its collection of production-quality “client stories” videos. There’s a handful of these awesome, 2–3-minute videos that cover everything from the clients’ life before and after ChowNow, to how easy the platform is to use. The videos feature some great footage of the clients, their offices, and their food.

4) Decadent Cakes

There are times when you’re leaving an online review and, for whatever reason, just don’t want to include photos with it — like when it’s for something kind of personal, like your son’s birthday party.

Decadent Cakes knew that and wanted to respect its customers’ privacy, while also highlighting their positive feedback. To solve for that, the bakery showcases its customer testimonials on a whimsically designed webpage along with names, locations, and sometimes pictures of the cakes made for those people. We love that that customers are referred to as “friends,” too.

decadent-cakes-testimonials-page.png

5) mHelpDesk

Visit mHelpDesk’s testimonial page, and the first thing you’ll see is powerful header text set over a large, faded graphic showing where in the world its customers are located — a great way to show it’s a global brand. Below the header text and call-to-action for a trial, they offer videos and text testimonials equipped with pictures.

The testimonial videos aren’t production quality, but they get the message across and cover useful and relevant information — which goes to show you don’t need to invest thousands in production to get some testimonial videos up. Finally, in the theme of earning trust, we love that mHelpDesk closes out its testimonial page with awards and badges of recognition.

6) Clear Slide

One of the first things we noticed about Clear Slide’s testimonial page is how creatively it’s named — “What They’re Saying.” It includes a smattering of quotes from customers, topped with client logos from big names like The Economist and Starwood. If you have users that are celebrities or influencers within their community, be sure to include and even highlight their testimonials on your page.

7) FreeAgent

The folks at FreeAgent did a great job formatting its testimonial page with emphasized text quotations along with pictures, names, and companies to add credibility. But what we really love about it is the “Twitter love” banner on the right-hand side of the page.

Social media is a great source of real-time proof of customer satisfaction — after all, that’s why it’s called “social proof” — and many customers turn to places like Twitter and Facebook to informally review businesses they buy from. Be sure to monitor your social media presence regularly to find tweets, Facebook posts, Instagram posts, and so on that positively reflect your brand, and see where you can embed them on your website.

8) Focus Lab

Focus Lab took a unique and very cool-looking design approach to its testimonial page — which is fitting, seeing as its trade is in creating visual branding systems. Again, it’s technically a visual catalog of both previous projects and works-in-progress, but instead of just listing out client quotes, the page opts for a card-like design with interactive, rectangular elements you can click on to see the full case study — with quotes occasionally appearing in-between.

What’s even cooler is what’s included in each individual case study. Not only does FocusLab cover the challenges faced by clients and how FocusLab helped solve them, but the case studies also include some of the steps in the design process between conception and final product. In some instances, they included the evolution of the logo during the design process.

Finally, we love the aforementioned view of works in progress section below the case studies. These cards aren’t clickable, but they give viewers a glimpse into the firm’s current projects.

9) 99designs

99designs takes a bit of an unconventional approach to its testimonial page. Using a star-rating system not usually seen in the B2B sector (read: Yelp and TripAdvisor), the page is headlined with an eye-catching video, with customer reviews below it. Plus, it gives users the ability to sort through customer reviews by category so they can read the ones most relevant to them.

Spread the Love

Once you’ve created a testimonial page, don’t forget to promote it. Send it to the customer(s) you featured, your sales staff, and even to your other customers if you think they’d be interested. And don’t forget to add a link to your testimonial page on your homepage, in your “About Us” page, or as part of your overall navigation.

4 Ways To Design a Perfect Split Screen Homepage

One screen divided in two.

The split screen technique has long been known in the film industry, with early examples dating back to the silent movies days of the early 20th century, and it is still a popular device in by film and tv today.

A split-screen layout is in use when full-screen elements are divided into two or more vertical parts. A scene from the film “Scott Pilgrim vs the World”

However, this is a relatively new technique for the web design industry. Split screens only became popular around mid-2016 and now we have more and more websites which use this design pattern. There are a few reasons why this design pattern became so popular:

  • It has a nice aesthetic quality. When executed correctly it can offer users a wonderful viewing experience.
  • It’s a good choice for responsive frameworks. Split-screen design can be adapted for a variety of screens, even small ones. When it comes to smaller screens, such as mobile displays, the panels can be stacked.
  • It helps guide navigation. Using simple design techniques, you can draw the user’s attention to a specific part of the screen or encourage them to click.

When Split Screen Works The Best

Split-screen is especially good when you have two things to promote. For example, when a site offers two entirely opposite variations. This approach allows designers to give prominence to both things and allow the user to quickly select between them.

One screen, two messages in Dropbox Guides

When You Should Avoid Split Screen

Split-screen designs don’t expand well as the content grows, therefore it is not recommended to apply them to content-heavy layouts. It’s important to keep the screens simple because complex split screens make the UI look overloaded with information. That’s why split-screen layout would be a perfect fit for minimalist website designs.

How to Decide if Split Screen is Good For You

If you’re considering a split-screen technique for your website, I advise you to ask yourself a few questions:

  • Is it suitable for your content?
  • Will there be enough negative space to make the layout work?
  • Will your users appreciate the layout or it will confuse them?
  • Will it be OK to split your users’ attention in half?

The most important thing to keep in mind that content is king and split-screen should be a simple way to deliver your message to people.

Design Techniques For Split Screens

1. Pair Vibrant Color and Dramatic Typography

Thanks to Flat and Material Design, vibrant colors and dramatic typography are big trends now. Vibrant colors are visually stimulating and dramatic typography enhances the text content. Simply combine the two and you will create a visually interesting design. Baesman has done this masterfully. They gave equal importance to both elements while, at the same time, allowing the user to choose between them quickly.

Bright colors and interesting typography pairs can add interest

2. Draw User Attention to the CTA Button

Much more than a simple graphic trend, splitting the screen into two distinct parts provides an original way to guide the user through your site. It’s a great option when you want to create a bigger focal point for calls to action. In the example below, you can see how negative space creates a vertical divide to give equal weighting to two different options.

Vertical divide allows emphasis on two different CTAs without favoring either

3. Create Visual Flow Between “Screens”

When split screen represents a single object, it’s important to establish a connection between content containers. One possible way to do that is by using a color. Simply duplicate a distinct color to establish visual flow between two screens. This works particularly well with a brand color or hue with a lot of contrast. Using color it’s possible to communicate a stronger connection between two pieces of content.

Another possible way to create a strong connection is layering a single element such as text copy across screens:

Overlapping text connects two screens

Last but not least you can use a colored overlay for this purpose:

Consider the left part of the screen

4. Use Animation To Encourage Users To Act

Fine animation and interactive effects encourage users to click. Look at the design used for the “Chekhov is Alive” site below. The design begs you to click to find your character.

Conclusion

It takes approximately three seconds for a visitor to make a decision regarding your website. Consequently, your layouts should always be visitor-friendly if you want to reduce bounce rates. Split-screen technique can help you with that. Split-screen designs are a fun, functional, and responsive way to create an engaging design.

eBook: Better Web Typography for a Better Web – only $13!

Source

The Challenge of Convincing Clients to Put Users First

One of the more interesting and important dynamics of being a web designer is the relationship you have with your clients. This relationship really is the basis for your work and can be a big factor in determining the final outcome.

But it’s not just about getting along – although that’s certainly recommended. Even more critical is being able to share a vision of what the finished product should achieve. Part of that is a client’s willingness to accept your expert opinions (and your ability to convince them to do so). Nowhere is that more important than in a website’s UI.

Too often, stakeholders lose sight of what the look and layout of a website is meant to do. For some clients, it can become more of an exercise in pleasing themselves rather than thinking about the users who will actually, you know, use the site.

For designers, it’s a delicate balance. While we want our clients to be happy, we also need to measure their wishes against its impact on users. So, where do we draw that line?

A Client’s Prerogative

There’s no doubt that, as a paying customer, a client should have input regarding their website’s design. That’s their absolute right. But there’s also a point where their preferences can become self-aggrandizing and self-defeating to the end goal.

Changing a background color to a slightly different shade of blue is one thing, but insisting that a design element key to a site’s accessibility be removed is another.

While you don’t want to make someone live with something they hate, you also need to be an advocate for users. It’s then when you can (gently) push back and explain the consequences of certain decisions. If the client sees that their own personal preference may be a turn-off to potential customers, they may just change their tune on the matter.

Frankly, if someone is willing to put their own likes and dislikes ahead of the needs of users, you have to wonder if the project is worth doing at all. But all hope isn’t lost. You can still convince them to do the right thing.

Encouraging the Right Decisions

Encouraging the Right Decisions

One of the best ways to combat this sort of client takeover of the design process is to prevent it from happening in the first place. While there are no guarantees, there are some things you can do to stop the madness before it starts.

For one, you need to be assertive from the very start. Whether through conversation or your proposal, mention that you specialize in making websites that are user-friendly and focused on details that will lead to conversions.

Displaying a confident tone can also go a long way towards legitimizing your expertise. If you sound sheepish or stay silent regarding your ideas, some people will walk all over you. They’ll pick up on your low-confidence vibe and take over the entire process. But if you know what you’re talking about and say it with conviction, you’ll have a better chance at getting your ideas through.

Overall, the best thing you can do is make a case for just how important serving the needs of users is. State that your role in the project is to ensure that the website is as easy to use as possible, while still making it attractive and on point with branding.

It’s also worth noting that it is indeed a team effort, where the client’s role is to make sure the site properly reflects the brand – without negatively impacting usability.

Dealing with the Results

Most people you’ll deal with in the design process will have some degree of flexibility when it comes to hearing what you have to say. Undoubtedly, there will also be people who simply won’t budge on their positions – no matter what you tell them.

Once you’ve made your recommendations and provided solid reasoning for them, the ball really is in the client’s court. The decision is theirs to make.

If they aren’t willing to listen, they may have their own good reasons for doing so. But, at the same time, it can be incredibly frustrating for a designer. At this point, it’s probably not worth arguing any further.

Instead, carry out your mission as professionally as you can. From there, you’ll see one of three possible outcomes:

1. The website will turn out better than you anticipated.
It’s very possible that whatever concerns you had were blown out of proportion. Sometimes, we tend to see ideas that aren’t our own as disasters waiting to happen. But, you can also be pleasantly surprised when things work out better than you initially thought.

2. The website isn’t as good as it could be – and the client recognizes it.
When a site doesn’t reach its full potential, your greatest hope is that the client realizes that their (or even your) ideas haven’t hit the mark. Hopefully this happens before the site launches. Either way, you can play the part of the hero in making the necessary adjustments.

3. The website isn’t as good as it could be – but the client doesn’t see it.
This one is a bit disheartening. You can see that the design decisions made were the wrong ones. Your client, however, is just as happy as can be. Unfortunately, not everyone will take your advice. From here, it’s time to move on to the next project. Who knows? Maybe they’ll see the light in the future.

Lessons Learned

The bottom line is that we can’t fully control the results of a project. While it can be difficult to deal with the decisions made by others, it’s often part of the job. With experience, you’ll find that all you can really do is make your best argument for any particular situation.

Even if things don’t work out the way you hoped, you can still learn some valuable lessons. Perhaps you’ll find a way to improve your argument for future projects. Or you may learn how to better deal with certain types of personalities. So, even if a project won’t become the star of your portfolio, it doesn’t mean that you can’t still take positives from the experience.

The post The Challenge of Convincing Clients to Put Users First appeared first on Speckyboy Design Magazine.

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