6 Essential Open Source Tools for Web Designers

The web runs on open source software. Most of it is in the back end, with most of the world’s servers running on some form of Unix or Linux. Those servers run hundreds, if not thousands, of open source utilities, script interpreters, and so on. Once in a while, though, the open source stuff gets all the way to the browser, where the user can see it.

Okay, that happens a lot. Case in point: WordPress; you’re seeing it now. But the conversation, when it comes to the tools of web design, is often dominated by software you have to pay for: Photoshop, Adobe XD, Sketch, the Affinity suite, Sublime Text, and about two-thousand web-based prototyping apps. When we do talk about open source web design software, we talk about WordPress, and occasionally the GIMP…or something.

In this article, I wanted to highlight some other open source projects that are active, lesser-known, and rather promising. I expect great things from each of these projects, if only we can get people looking at them:

1. Gravit

Okay, we’ve featured Gravit a couple of times on WDD for different reasons. With its combination of professional grade vector tools and collaboration features, you can think of it as Sketch in the Cloud, or Google Draw on steroids. You can make graphics, prototypes, and even mockups with this thing, all for free. Then you can share your creations, and even invite others to add input, or help you work on them.

Being open source, that means you can grab this software and make changes to it, or even integrate it into a project of your own. Want an internal vector graphics and sharing tool for… any reason you can think of? You can do that.

2. Visual Studio Code

Once upon a time, it was weird to think of Microsoft having anything to do with open source software. Now, they have Ubuntu running in CLI mode on Windows, and they’re giving away a free text editor. Ever since Visual Studio Code launched, it has developed quite the fan base. And why not? It’s fast, it’s extensible, it works.

Now, if you’re already entrenched with Sublime Text, Atom, or one of the other famous text editors, there’s not much reason to switch. This is especially true if you’re on a Mac, or running Linux. The big draw is VS Code’s integration with other Microsoft development tools. If you run Windows and code in ASP.Net, for example, you might see what this text editor has to offer you.

3. UIkit

If you like looking at front end frameworks for fun, or the “Big Two” aren’t cutting it for you, try out UIkit. It’s byte-conscious, and it’s modular, so you only have to use the bits you want. Their Github repo shows a fair bit of action. Most importantly, it looks pretty good by default, which is what most people want out of these frameworks.

4. Pencil Project

You may remember Pencil from the days when it was just a Firefox extension. Well, Pencil has since become a mature, stable wireframing/prototyping app in its own right. It lacks some of the extensive collaboration features of online apps in its category, but it’s great for anyone who needs or likes to work offline.

With a large library of elements and stencils available, you should be able to pick it up and start prototyping fast. It’s still under development, with version 3.0 launching in February, and the latest bugfix release on May 11th.

5. kodeWeave

kodeWeave is a newer project that looks a lot like CodePen, because it basically serves the same purpose: experiment with bits of front-end code. The big difference is that in addition to using it as a web app, you can download it as a standalone app for Windows, Mac, Linux, ChromeOS, and Android.

This is great for offline development, of course, but it’s also great for those projects where your client might prefer not to have project data and code experiments in the cloud. It also comes with comes with CSS preprocessors, and just about every framework you can name off the top of your head.

Bonus: it can integrate with an app called WebDGap to export your code as a native desktop or mobile app, so it’s pretty great for prototyping.

6. GrapesJS

GrapesJS is a site builder. Well, it’s more of a site builder framework. You can open it up and edit your site designs online. It supports responsive design (of course), editing the code yourself (if you really want to), several preview modes, undo/redo and more. It also has a set of pre-defined page elements that you can drag and drop in.

But really, GrapesJS meant to be dropped into other people’s projects. You can include it in a bigger app, such as a site builder service, an installable CMS, a newsletter managing app, or really anything that might need HTML/CSS templates that can be customized by the end user. And it is pretty easy to use. There’s a learning curve for anyone not familiar with web design, as there always will be, but it’s a quite capable page editor.

Honorable mentions

Honorable mentions go to Synfig Studio and Krita. Synfig Studio is a 2D animation app. Krita is a powerful graphics editor with a heavy focus on digital painting. They don’t have a lot to do with web design, so they don’t make it onto the list proper. However, they can both be used to make content for the web, and they have both come a long way in the last year. They deserve a shout out.

Many other great OSS projects have come and gone. Some are even still being regularly developed in relative obscurity, used by only a handful of loyal, loving fans. And maybe Richard Stallman. Go have a look around Github, SourceForge, and other havens of OSS software. Something out there might find its way into your web design process, and maybe even into your he…

…okay, I can’t finish that with a straight face.

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p img {display:inline-block; margin-right:10px;}
.alignleft {float:left;}
p.showcase {clear:both;}
body#browserfriendly p, body#podcast p, div#emailbody p{margin:0;}

from Webdesigner Depot https://www.webdesignerdepot.com/2017/06/5-essential-open-source-tools-for-web-designers/

New relationship born between Epiphany and Stokke

International premium baby and children’s furniture manufacturer, Stokke, has appointed Epiphany, a Jaywing agency, to handle its digital marketing activity. As well as developing a new website for the high-quality brand with ongoing CRO, Epiphany will manage Stokke’s multilingual PPC, display and paid social strategy. Epiphany will be supporting Stokke, headquartered in Norway, to drive [more…]

from TheMarketingblog http://www.themarketingblog.co.uk/2017/06/new-relationship-born-between-epiphany-and-stokke/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=new-relationship-born-between-epiphany-and-stokke

Combining digital marketing with offline marketing

The digital world is still a relatively new concept in comparison to traditional marketing methods, only becoming mainstream in 1999 and growing even larger since then. Practically everything we do has some form of online component nowadays, whether that is a connection to the web that makes the experience smoother and enhances it or a [more…]

from TheMarketingblog http://www.themarketingblog.co.uk/2017/06/combining-digital-marketing-with-offline-marketing/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=combining-digital-marketing-with-offline-marketing

The 10 Best WooCommerce Plugins For Boosting Your Revenue

Online sales climb higher year after year and now is the best time to get into the ecommerce game. If you’re looking for a platform to start with then WooCommerce is easy to setup, very secure, and it runs on WordPress which means it’s 100% free.

But just launching WooCommerce is only the first step. You then have to setup a usable shop with features that actually encourage users to buy.

That’s why we’ve curated this list of 10 great plugins you can use to boost your WooCommerce shop’s revenues and keep customers coming back for more.

1. Product Enquiry

You should do anything you can to ease customers towards a purchase. This might include adding tons of product photos, user reviews, or even adding a question box with the Product Enquiry plugin.

This is a free plugin for WooCommerce that lets customers ask questions directly about a product they’re considering buying. It’s a great way to clear up any confusion on materials, sizing, shipping, or anything related to your products (physical or digital).

Naturally you could just add a contact page on your site and tell users to message you there. But with Product Enquiry you can grab their attention right on the product page. It also lets you forward emails to different people and you can offer specific enquiry options based on the item.

It’s definitely a subtle feature but for a newer shop this can go a long way towards building trust with hesitant customers.

2. WPB Related Products Slider

The popularity of “related posts” can be seen on every major blog and news site on the net. And with the Related Products Slider plugin you can add this feature to your ecommerce shop too.

Related items work well to keep visitors on your site and possibly increase the size of their order. But adding related items manually is exceptionally tough, so it’s best to let an algorithm automate the process.

This free plugin handles all the product selection based on tags, categories, and keywords.

Each slider is fully interactive and responsive for all devices. It comes with two default themes but it’s also very dev-friendly so feel free to carve up a theme that matches the design of your site.

3. Product FAQs

If you’ve ever shopped on Amazon or eBay you’ve likely seen the “buyer question” areas. Customers often have specific questions about products before buying and this product FAQ plugin adds the same functionality to your WooCommerce store.

Whenever a new question gets submitted you can be notified by email right away. This lets you answer questions promptly and even delete some that are duplicates or just don’t make sense.

But if the customer has an account they can even get notified when you answer the question too.

You can set certain FAQs to publish live on the site for everyone to see while others can be answered privately. This is best used as a public plugin since it benefits all of your customers.

4. WPB Accordion Menu

Larger ecommerce shops often have multi-level categories that don’t fit into traditional horizontal menus. But dropdown accordion menus solve this problem since they can be lengthy and they’re toggleable within any category.

The WPB Accordion Menu plugin is totally free and perfect for all WooCommerce users.

Once installed you can drag the accordion widget into your sidebar and setup the details. This lets you assign a menu along with ordering the items and certain display properties. It even comes with built-in icon support if you want to add custom icons onto each category in your list.

This is a freemium plugin with some options to go pro. But for most users I think the free option is more than enough.

To see this in action take a peek at the plugin’s demo video.

5. Order Delivery Date

If you’re selling physical products then delivery dates are always a concern. With some ecommerce shops guaranteeing 1-day or 2-day delivery it’s good to support your customers as much as possible.

That’s why the Order Delivery Date plugin is an excellent addition to any checkout process. This adds a custom date picker into the form so your customers can select when they’d prefer to have the item delivered.

You have full control over the calendar’s settings including which dates are excluded(for example weekends). This plugin even counts the total number of deliveries per day so you can limit the amount to a reasonable number.

I think this works best for companies that offer services or direct consultations along with products. This way you’re physically in charge of the delivery and not reliant on a mail carrier to match your deadlines.

6. WooCommerce Image Zoom

Almost every ecommerce site you visit will have the hover-to-zoom feature for product photos. Whenever the customer needs a closer look at any product they can just hover to get a close-up shot.

This requires high-resolution pictures and a plugin like WooCommerce Image Zoom. With a one-click install this plugin is ready to go right after you click “activate”. The default settings work perfectly and it’s extremely lightweight.

The entire zooming feature runs on a jQuery plugin called Elevate Zoom. This means it does require jQuery, but WordPress typically includes this by default in most themes.

If you’re looking for more customizable features this does have a pro version too. But for any simple WooCommerce website I would recommend sticking to the free version, especially when first testing it out.

7. My Account Widget

To build your email list and increase sales you should encourage user signups. Once a user has an account on your site they’ll have an easier time buying something and feel more comfortable with the process.

By adding the WooCommerce My Account Widget into your layout you can add a personal touch to the user account setup. Once the user logs into their account they should have access to their cart, their current orders, and any unpaid orders currently pending shipment.

It’s a wonderfully well-designed plugin and it should blend into just about any website. By default it has a pretty bland style but it’s also incredibly simple to redesign. And the user account links are genuinely helpful which can ultimately increase time on site and overall sales volume.

8. Product Slider

The first step of a sale is getting the user’s attention and showcasing some products. And by adding a custom slideshow you can immediately grab attention while showing off a bunch of products at once!

WPB’s free Product Slider plugin can fit anywhere on your site with tons of customizable settings. You can add pretty much any products you like regardless of style or photo size.

This also comes with a simple flat design that’s fully responsive and easy to re-style as needed.

On the settings page you can change the rotation speed, pagination style, total products on display and many other minor features. This is by far the best free product slideshow plugin for WooCommerce and it’s a cinch to setup.

9. Wishlist Plugin

When customers see your site as a brand they’ll be more likely to use their profile frequently. That’s why the Wishlist Plugin is such a valuable asset for more established ecommerce shops.

If someone has an account on your site they’ll see a button next to each product to add that item into their wishlist. Potential customers can bookmark products they like and keep them all saved in one handy location.

On this page the user can add certain items into their shopping cart, view total inventory, and even check when certain items go on sale.

This comes with a very simple design but you also have access to edit the CSS and customize the layout yourself. It’s definitely a top-notch plugin to keep people coming back for more.

10. WooCommerce Cart Tab

The WooCommerce Cart Tab plugin offers one incredibly valuable feature: a shopping cart flyout menu.

When customers add items into their cart they usually need to click onto a new page just to view everything. Most of the time this is fine. But why not give them easier access when possible?

Once you install this plugin you can choose how it displays and what features should be included. It is definitely one of the cooler plugins in this list and it’s a feature most online shoppers appreciate when available.

But think of combining this plugin with a few others from this guide to really improve usability and ultimately increase sales.

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p img {display:inline-block; margin-right:10px;}
.alignleft {float:left;}
p.showcase {clear:both;}
body#browserfriendly p, body#podcast p, div#emailbody p{margin:0;}

from Webdesigner Depot https://www.webdesignerdepot.com/2017/06/the-10-best-woocommerce-plugins-for-boosting-your-revenue/

8 ways remote video conferencing helps you run your remote teams better

It’s hard enough to manage a team, but running remote teams is an entirely different ballgame. Here’s how picking the right video meeting tools can help you manage your team with better, more efficient results:   Eliminate Travel Video, first and foremost, removes the need for travel. That has a number of possibilities. Just calculate [more…]

from TheMarketingblog http://www.themarketingblog.co.uk/2017/06/8-ways-remote-video-conferencing-helps-you-run-your-remote-teams-better/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=8-ways-remote-video-conferencing-helps-you-run-your-remote-teams-better

How to Increase Conversions: 10 Tips to See Positive Results

As a marketer, many of your campaigns may be built around one primary objective: getting people to fill out a form.  Often, designing a compelling advertisement isn’t enough to encourage people into handing over their details. Many factors can deter someone from submitting a form, including the unwillingness to provide contact information.

Here are some content design strategies and tips that you can employ today to effectively nudge people toward conversion:

Just Say ‘No’ to Distractions

When driving people to a form, one of the biggest mistakes you can make is to distract them with detours. Landing pages should be built as simple as possible. Here’s how:

1. Drive people to a landing page—not your website.

You want people to do one thing, and one thing only: fill out that form. You must drive them with a simple and engaging email to a landing page that is specifically built for your campaign. Sending someone to your website offers a plethora of distractions, including images and text that don’t apply to your campaign’s appeal, multiple links to other information, and in some cases, flashing beacons of light that are begging folks to take some other action. If you want people to drive directly to your destination, don’t drop them off in the middle of Las Vegas where sparkling lights from competing assets beg for their attention. Likewise, steer clear of cluttering your emails with the same distractions.

2. Remove ALL navigation from the landing page.

Don’t offer an exit ramp when you are trying to capture a person’s information on a form. Doing so can make your lead stray away from your primary call-to-action. Will they find their way back to your form?  Maybe.  Most of the time—no. At that point, you may have lost their impulse to decide. Instead, your landing page should be designed simply, and with only ONE action they can possibly take: fill out that form.

Be Consistent

Emails, advertisements (online and offline), and social campaigns should have a similar look and feel. Using too many different images, layouts and copy between assets can create a disconnect for people, and can even make a person feel like the content is not reliable.  Instead, try to use the following techniques in design:

  1. Use the same (or reasonably similar) header image in the outbound email and on the landing page.
  2. Repeat copy from the email on the landing page—especially the headline.
  3. Use the same color scheme in emails, landing pages, and on the form.
  4. Always provide a clear call-to-action:  don’t make people search for it!  One of my colleagues calls this the “BOB” (Big Orange Button). Top-converting emails and landing pages always contain some version of the BOB.

Do More with Less

All too often, I have seen emails and landing pages designed with too much text, and entirely too many images.  Asking people to read an entire magazine before filling out your form will certainly contribute to losing their interest.  Here are some tips on how to do more with less:

Create an impulse decision.

  • A compelling headline with a short summary of details in an email can create an impulse to react.

Don’t give up the farm!

  • Your email should be quick, to the point, and provide just enough information to drive them to the landing page—and don’t forget the BOB!
  • The juicy details should be found in the downloaded content after submitting the form, not in the email, and not all on the landing page either. Otherwise, what’s the point of filling out the form?

Keep all the important stuff above the fold.

  • Remember old-fashioned newspapers?  If you haven’t heard “above the fold” in the past, it refers to everything you see on the newspaper page before the paper folds. All the interesting, juicy, enticing, infomation and your call-to-action should be above the point where someone needs to scroll through the email or landing page in their browser.
  • Just remember “If a person must scroll, it takes a toll.”

Use a short form.

  • This may seem like a no-brainer, but I have seen a ton of long forms out there. On average, forms with five fields or less have higher conversions. Several factors can impact conversion on even short forms, however. For example, making the telephone field required is a typical detour. In some cases, simply moving the telephone field to the bottom of the form can help. Results can vary based on your content and your audience. To optimize your forms, try an A/B test and see which one is performing the best.

In this exciting new digital age, social media has impacted customer behavior in a way that creates multiple challenges for marketers. Today’s savvy internet surfers are accustomed to getting all the information they need in a short social media status message or in a brief article online. We can learn from this behavior. These micro status messages entice people to follow links to landing pages. Your content marketing strategy should do the same.

Creating short, simple, and actionable marketing messages using the techniques I described here can have a positive impact on conversion rates. While this is not an exhaustive list of conversion strategies, these basics can significantly impact your results.

Do you have any conversion strategies that you use? Please share them here!

The post How to Increase Conversions: 10 Tips to See Positive Results appeared first on Marketo Marketing Blog – Best Practices and Thought Leadership.

from Marketo Marketing Blog http://blog.marketo.com/2017/06/increase-conversions-10-tips-see-positive-results.html

Will customer service lose the human touch?

10 years ago customer service was a very different concept. Apple introduced the iPhone on 29th June 2007; now in 2017 it is not uncommon that businesses aspire to be as customer-centric as the technology giant. Customers still expected great service however they weren’t in as much of a hurry as they are today, with [more…]

from TheMarketingblog http://www.themarketingblog.co.uk/2017/06/will-customer-service-lose-the-human-touch/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=will-customer-service-lose-the-human-touch